New COVID-19 Lockdown measures and what this means for employers and workers:

  • Any return to work must be informed by a Covid-19 Risk Assessment which should be undertaken in consultation with workers. You will have done something like this already in order to arrive at your distancing measures. If you haven’t committed it to paper yet, do it now.
  • Insisting that a worker returns to work may lead to potential claims under health and safety and possibly discrimination laws.
  • You should consider, in conjunction with the worker, the extent of the danger, if any, and whether they could take other steps to avoid/reduce it.
  • The risk is that if the worker disagrees, you if don’t pay them and stop their furlough pay this is a potential detriment which could trigger a claim.
  • This is uncharted territory in employment law terms. The more remote the danger the more sympathy a tribunal is likely to have for you. The better the safety steps you’ve taken generally, the lower the risk of a claim.  And if you’ve brought other employees back to work before the worker in question, based on a risk assessment, again, more confidence you can have in your actions to encouraging some workers a return to work. Judges will be pragmatic and they know that if they get the balance wrong and expect too much caution then this could send out the wrong message and adversely affect the economy.
  • The reason to discuss the situation with a worker is to get information that will help you later if there’s a dispute over pay/employment rights etc.
  • If the family member has a medical condition, I’d probably say the balance tips against compelling her to att
  • Whilst there is a risk of the worker refusing and you have an employment claim based on health and safety laws etc, ultimately, you have put in place COVID-19 procedures – look at the Government guidance – and they will help to protect you not only against the virus but also against employment claims, so you that you may act with confidence in eventually returning back to normal.