Social distancing and vulnerable people
Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – 'social distancing'. This includes:
- working from home where possible
- avoiding busy commuting times on public transport
- avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home
Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include:
- agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times
- allowing staff to work from home wherever possible
- cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology
The government has issued guidance that strongly advises people who are at a higher risk of catching coronavirus (‘vulnerable people’) to take strict social distancing measures.
Employers must be especially careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is in a vulnerable group. They include, but are not limited to, those who:
- have a long-term health condition, for example asthma, diabetes or heart disease, or a weakened immune system as the result of medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- are pregnant
- are aged 70 or over
- care for someone with a health condition that might put them at a greater risk
Working from home
Where work can be done at home, the employer could:
- ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working
- arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers
If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should:
- pay the employee as usual
- keep in regular contact
- check on the employee’s health and wellbeing
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If an employee does not want to go to work
Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they're afraid of catching coronavirus. This could particularly be the case for those who are at higher risk.
An employer should listen to any concerns staff may have and should take steps to protect everyone.
For example, they could offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport.
If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.
If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action.