Safety at Workand Coronavirus

Safety at Workand Coronavirus

27th April 2020

Employers always have a legal duty to support their workers’ health, safety and wellbeing.  The Covid-19 outbreak means that they may need to introduce extra steps to protect their staff. 

Employers should keep up-to-date with the latest Government advice and they should make sure that they and their staff are following it.  For example they should make sure everyone is social distancing where this is possible and they should provide clean places for handwashing with hot water and soap, hand sanitiser and tissues.

Your employer should let you work from home if it’s possible.  When your job can’t be done at home, there may be other things that your employer can do to help you stay safe such as letting you travel to work at quieter times of the day or reducing how much face-to-face contact you have with the public.

Talk to your employer if you think there’s more they could do to keep you safe.

Some people may be especially worried about working for example if you:

•have a health condition that means you’re ‘vulnerable’

•are pregnant

•are living with someone who has to stay at home because they’re ‘extremely vulnerable’

•are over 70

People who are extremely vulnerable have been advised to stay in their homes for 12 weeks.  This is known as “shielding”.  They can work from home if that is possible but if they cannot work then the letter they received from the NHS is evidence for their employer – they do not need to get a separate ‘fit note’ from their GP.  People who are shielding may be put on furlough.

If you live with someone who is shielding you must take extra care to protect them by following the rules on social distancing and avoiding any close contact with the very vulnerable person while in the home.

If you are over 70 or have a health condition that makes you vulnerable and you are worried about going to work you should discuss this with your employer and ask them to consider putting you on furlough.  If you are put on furlough you will be paid 80% of your usual wage. 

If your employer will not put you on furlough you could:

  • use some of your annual leave to take paid time off
  • ask your employer to pay some of your wages as an advance or give you a loan - you’d have to pay the loan back
  • ask your doctor about getting a fit note to say you can’t work which means that you can get sick pay.

If you are pregnant your employer has an extra responsibility to make changes to your job so it’s safe for you to keep working.  If they can’t make changes to make sure you’re safe, they could give you a different role to do.

If it’s still not safe for you to keep working, you might have a right to stay at home and still get your full pay.

If your income is reduced you may be entitled to social security benefits. 

If you need help to claim Universal Credit you can ring the free CAB Help to Claim service on 0800 023 2581 or access our webchat service at