If your boss wants you to go back to work they have every right to ask – but you can still make the case for more flexible working, or for them to make reasonable adjustments
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Employees are being asked to return to their workplaces in great numbers as Covid restrictions ease, but many still feel uncomfortable about the risk.
Not only that, but many workers who are able to work from home have grown to like it, and don’t want to go back to commuting to a separate workplace.
A third (33%) of workers would refuse to go into work five days a week, according to a survey by serviced office provider IWG.
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Your rights if you refuse to return to the office
Legally your employer has every right to ask you to go back to work now government-imposed restrictions have been lifted, according to Alex Kiernan, a solicitor at Loch Employment Law.
But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to. Firstly, employees can try speaking to their employer to see if they will allow more flexible working.
The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), which represents HR professionals, says decisions on whether you can continue to work from home will depend on factors such as your individual circumstances and the type of job.
If you have at least 26 weeks’ service you could also consider submitting a flexible working request to apply to your employer to work from home.
However, your employer does not have to accept the request and can turn it down if there is a valid business reason for doing so.
Ultimately, your employer does not have to agree to allow you to work from home permanently.
But they do have to make reasonable adjustments in some cases.
Kiernan said: “If you have a disability your employer is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for you to do your job and this may involve continuing to work from home.
“If you think this applies, you should raise it with your employer. An employer should consider this request in line with their obligation to make reasonable adjustments and their duty of care for the health and safety of employees.”
Obviously anyone who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work.
Anyone with symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate until they have the results of a PCR test.
Last week the government warned that health and care workers who refuse to be double jabbed could be shifted to back office roles.
Care minister Helen Whately sounded the warning after making the Covid vaccine compulsory for care home workers – and threatening to do the same in the NHS.