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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 decide not to work

You might be more worried about working if you:

  • have a health condition that means you’re ‘vulnerable’
  • have been shielding
  • are living with someone who's extremely vulnerable - they might have been shielding
  • are pregnant
  • are over 70

Check the guidelines for staying safe at work

You should be working from home unless it's not possible. 

When 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 disabled it could be easier to negotiate with your employer about making your workplace safer.

If you've been shielding because you're extremely vulnerable

Scottish government guidance says you can go back to work from 1 August 2020 if you can’t work from home and your workplace is safe enough.

Check NHS inform guidance if you’ve been shielding.

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’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 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 don't want to work

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.

Your employer will only be able to furlough you if either:

  • you were already furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July 2020
  • you’re returning from maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

If you’re returning from one of these types of leave, your employer must also have used the scheme to furlough other employees before 1 July 2020.

If you’re currently furloughed, ask your employer to keep you on the scheme.

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:  

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 - for example, nightclubs, dance halls and discos.

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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