Concerns about returning to work
The Scottish Government has said people can return to work from 26th April if unable to work from home or choose not to. Here we answer some FAQ’s about returning to work when you have health issues.
I have been working from home and may be asked to return to my workplace soon. I do have some health issues, so can I ask for some changes to be made so I will feel safer?
Employers do have a legal duty to make the workplace safe for their staff and to carry out full risk assessments considering the needs of all staff members. They should be open to discussing any concerns you may have. If you are considered to be vulnerable because of health issues, they should be willing to make some adjustments to ensure you feel safe, as long as the adjustments are compatible with the needs of the organisation.
Adjustments could include allowing you to continue working from home, a change of hours so you avoid peak travel times, giving you tasks which enable social distancing or providing you with a separate workspace, reducing contact with any public etc. There would always be the proviso that any change would need to be appropriate in the work situation.
There is a lot of information on gov.uk and gov.scot about making workplaces safe in coronavirus times, and there are lists of health conditions which need special consideration from employers.
Does being pregnant mean I could get special treatment?
Pregnancy is considered to make people vulnerable and employers should be told so they can properly assess the risks.
What can I do if my employer is not helpful?
If you still feel unsafe after discussing your concerns with the employer, you can seek further advice from Occupational Health Service (if there is one), a Health & Safety Rep, Human Resources Team (if there is one), a Trade Union / professional body or indeed CAB.
If your employer tries to dismiss you rather than making adjustments, do please seek advice from CAB.
Do I have a right to flexible working?
If you are an employee and have worked for 26 weeks in a row and have not made a similar request in the last year, then yes you have a legal right to ask. There are limitations if you are an agency worker. The employer does not have a legal duty to grant your request and negotiation is the best route to follow. You will need to consider your request from the stance of the employer, who will have to think about cost implications, disruption to other staff, quantity of work suitable for you and possible impact on the quality of work /customer service etc.
Bear in mind any flexibility agreed may become a permanent change, unless it is agreed to be temporary. Your pay should be at the same rate, but on a ‘pro rata’ basis if hours are reduced. Similarly, holiday and other benefits would be on a ‘pro rata’ basis.