Following the UK government’s announcement on the easing of lockdown measures, thousands of workers in England are being encouraged to return to work.
The Westminster Government has set out detailed guidelines on how to make workplaces safe for employees in England.
With hundreds of deaths still being recorded everyday in the UK there are concerns among workers and unions over safety in workplaces, despite the government regulations.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has attempted to provide reassurance saying at the daily press briefing on May 12: "Employers have a duty to keep their employees safe in the workplace - that is absolutely enshrined in law.
But what are your rights as a worker following the loosening of lockdown measures in the UK?
What steps must my employer take?
The government have instructed that where possible employers should wherever possible encourage employees to work from home. Employers should therefore only travel to their work place if it is open and not possible to work from home
If you are required to go into work your employer are required to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment and share it with employees.
Employers must consider what could cause harm to employees and then take steps to eliminate the harm.
Your employer should also have measures in place to ensure that it is possible for employees to maintain social distancing, as demanded by the government.
Employers should also ensure that the workplace is regularly sanitised and in some circumstances ensure that there is sufficient access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
If an employee is concerned that enough safety measures aren’t being taken, they should raise this issue with their employer and their safety representative.
If your employer continues to flout social distancing you can contact your local Public Health Office, who can inform you on what further action can be taken.
Do I need PPE?
If social distancing and workplace adjustments aren’t sufficient your employer will need to consider other measures.
In some circumstances employees should be provided with PPE to ensure the safety of employees.UNISON states that “You are more likely to require PPE if you are providing direct care to service users, or cleaning premises contaminated by COVID-19.”
How can I protect myself on my commute?
First, if you have concerns about your commute to work you should raise them with your employer. Employers should consider flexible working hours, free parking and consider providing private transport.
The government states “you should avoid using public transport where possible.
Employees should instead try to walk, cycle, or drive. If you do travel, think carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel will mean we will all have more space to stay safe.
The government also advise that if using public transport passengers should wear a face covering.
What should I do if I am experiencing Covid-19 symptoms?
Stay at home and inform your employer that you can not go into work if you or someone in your household are exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.
While self-isolating you should be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, but you must self isolate for at least 4 days to be eligible.
You may be expected to work from home, with full pay, if you are self-isolating but aren’t sick.
What if I am in a vulnerable group?
The government “strongly advises” that you work from home if you have an underlying health condition.
According to Unison “refusal of home working for a disabled person might amount to unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.”
If this is not possible employers should consider re-deploying you to an area of work where you can work from home.
Employers may also be required to provide you with special leave if you are advised to shield from coronavirus.
If you live with someone who is shielding employers shoudl also allow you where possible to work from home or provide you with special leave.