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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 74402
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Due to Covid -9 i'm on furlough and have a shielding letter

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Due to Covid -9 i'm on furlough and have a shielding letter covering me to 30th June. Last week my employer contacted me saying as of 15th June he wanted me back to work full time Mon- Fri 09.30-17.30. Obviously because of the shielding the earliest I can go back is 30th June. I also have 2 primary school children and my husband is a key worker on shift work. I have no alternative childcare cover. He is not offering me part time, any flexible hour working or working from home option which was my suggestion to him. I have offered to work part time hours from 30th June. He has declined both PT and working from home hours. Please can you advise where I stand with this. My contract states up to 40 hours per week, with flexibility from both parties. We seem to be in a stale mate situation, please can you advise.
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: It is a small family run business. There is no HR dept and he is the company MD.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Employee
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I joined the company in September 2019

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What reason has your employer provided for rejecting your request? Please upload a copy of your contract on here

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He rejected it saying "he just needed full time staff as cant operate with PT anymore". During lockdown he has made redundant 1 part timer. There is still 1 person on PT hours (she is on furlough)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Will scan the contract now

OK thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
File attached (474GS34)

Thank you. Leave it with me for now, although please note it is extremely busy at present due to the ongoing situation so there may be a delay in replying, but I will get back to you at some point today. Please do not reply in the meantime. Many thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you

Many thanks for your patience. If you have a shielding letter then you are legally entitled to be off sick for the period you are shielding. The employer cannot force you to return to work.

The current situation is creating a lot of difficulties for many people across the country as it is unprecedented to have to look after your children at home, whilst not being able to rely on any outside help, whilst also working at the same time.

However, the law has not changed in terms of your options and these remain as follows:

· Dependency leave – this is only for emergencies and you could have likely used it to start with but once it has become apparent that this will be happening on an ongoing basis, it will no longer be classified as an emergency

· Parental leave – you get 4 weeks of unpaid leave per year per child that you can take, although you need to give at least 21 days notice. If the employer cannot accommodate your chosen dates they must offer you an alternative. Even if you take one day off a week it will still count as a whole week off your entitlement

· Holidays – to be applied for in the normal way

· Unpaid leave, if approved by your employer

· As a final resort, you can just take the time off unauthorised but that risks disciplinary action so only do it if absolutely necessary and you have no other option.

The employer also has the option of using the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furlough you, claiming for part of your wages from the State, but that is entirely up to them and you cannot force them to do it, even if they could.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
he has asked me to write to him to say I can't cover the full time role at the moment due to my situation, then shall I mention the above points to see if he will allow any of these? Would it be down to him to release me from my position, or would it be me having to say I cant work? Just thinking if I need to claim Universal credit it is better that he makes my job redundant?

This is not redundancy so you cannot realistically expect that to happen. He can however look at dismissal if he believes you cannot o your work any more. The only issue with benefits is that if you are resigning instead of being dismissed, they can be delayed by up to 26 weeks, although if you can show there was a good reason for leaving, that won’t necessarily apply.

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Can he now change my existing contract to state Mon-Fri 09.30 - 17.30 5 days per week.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
to fix my hours now at 40 per week

Not without your consent or a contractual clause allowing them to do so

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