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Coronavirus - if you're worried about working

This advice applies to Scotland

If you’re worried about work because of coronavirus, there are:

  • laws your employer should be following to make sure you’re safe
  • things to think about if you’re deciding whether to work
  • ways you might be able to keep getting paid if you can't work or decide not to 

You have the right to be safe at work whether you work full time or have a zero-hours contract.

If you're on the shielding list

In level 4 areas, if you can't work from home, you shouldn't go to work. 

The Scottish government has said that you can go back to work from 26 April if the areas you work and live in move to level 3 or lower. You should have a letter from the Chief Medical Officer with information about going back to work.

You can check your area's protection level using the Scottish government protection level checker.

There’s advice about work and shielding in the shielding guidance on mygov.scot.

If you can't work from home

You can ask your employer if they'll furlough you - find out more about being furloughed.

If your employer doesn’t furlough you, you might be able to get statutory sick pay (SSP). You can use your shielding letter as evidence to prove you can’t go to work - you don't need a fit note from your GP. Check if you can get SSP

If you can’t get SSP, you should check what benefits you can get.

If your employer tells you to return to your workplace

If you feel you have to go to work to keep your income or avoid losing your job, this could be disability discrimination. You can find out how to talk to your employer or raise a grievance against them.

Your employer could be breaking the law if they tell you to return to your workplace after you’ve told them you’re shielding.

If you decide not to go to work, you could ask your doctor for a fit note to say you can’t work. You can check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

You should also check what benefits you can get.

If you think your employer is treating you badly, you can talk to an adviser.

Check what your employer should do to keep you safe at work

You should work from home unless it's not possible. Read more about working from home on the Scottish government website.

If your job can’t be done at home, your employer should keep you safe from coronavirus. This could be by:

  • letting you travel to work at quieter times of the day
  • reducing how much face-to-face contact you have with the public
  • making sure that staff stay at least two metres apart in your workplace.

You must wear a face covering in indoor communal areas in workplaces, like canteens or corridors.

You can read the Scottish government guidance for making workplaces safe.

The law in Scotland says that any businesses that stay open must:

  • take action to ensure that people stay two metres apart, except two people in the same household or a person and their carer
  • only allow small numbers of people to enter at a time
  • take action to ensure there are two metres between people queuing to enter.

It’s a good idea to check if you’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010. A disability could be physical or mental - you could be covered even if you don’t consider yourself disabled.

If you're on the shielding list because you’re extremely vulnerable, you’re likely to be covered.

If you’re disabled, your employer might need to do extra things to help you work. It could also be easier to negotiate with them about making your workplace safer.

If you’re disabled

Your employer might have an extra responsibility to make changes to your work to help you work. For example, they might have to give you a different job to do. 

This is called making ‘reasonable adjustments’ – check how to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments.

You might also be able to get support from Access to Work to help you work. For example, they could pay taxi fares if you can’t safely use public transport because of coronavirus. You can find out more about Access to Work on GOV.UK.

If you live with someone vulnerable

Your employer doesn’t have to make changes to protect people you live with, but you should still ask your employer what they can do to help. They might agree to let you work in a way that will keep everyone safe.  

You can find out how to avoid spreading coronavirus to other people on NHS inform

You can also check what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.

If you care for someone vulnerable

You should explain your situation to your employer as soon as possible. Government guidance says you can ask to be furloughed.

You can also check what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.

If you’re 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.

Check your rights at work if you’re pregnant.

If you think your workplace isn't safe

Talk to your employer if you think there’s more they could do to keep you safe. Try to be constructive and explain what you need to happen so that you’ll feel safe at work.

If you’ve been unfairly dismissed in the last 7 days 

You might be able to get your employer to keep paying your wages if you've been unfairly dismissed for certain reasons, like: 

  • health and safety 

  • whistleblowing 

You should talk to an adviser for help. 

If you don't want to go to your workplace 

Your employer doesn’t usually have to pay you if you stop working. There are things you might be able to agree with your employer that mean you can still be paid if you stop working.

If you're not already furloughed, you can ask your employer if they'll furlough you. You’ll be paid 80% of your normal pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

You should tell your employer if you have a health condition that means you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ - they might be more likely to agree to furlough you or extend your furlough. 

If you can, ask your doctor for evidence of your condition.

If your employer agrees to furlough you, find out how the scheme works

If your employer can't or won’t furlough you

There are other things you can do. For example, you can ask your employer if you can:

  • use some of your annual leave to take paid time off
  • take unpaid time off
  • take unpaid parental leave - if you look after children.

You should also check what benefits you can get.

If you’re extremely vulnerable, you could ask your doctor for a fit note to say you can’t work. You should check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

If your employer won’t help with your concerns

You should contact your nearest Citizens Advice. An adviser could help you negotiate with your employer.

If you think your work should be closed

Some businesses have been told to close because of coronavirus - this will depend on where the business is and which protection level it’s in.

Check which businesses should be closed on the Scottish government website.

If you’re still working and you think the business should be closed, you can report your employer to the police or Trading Standards. Find your local Trading Standards Office on GOV.UK.

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