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Returning to work – what you should know

Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday that those who cannot work from home are encouraged to return to work, avoiding public transport, will raise lots of questions for many.
  • I am shielding and worried that returning to my job will put my loved one at risk
  • I am pregnant and am worried about returning to work
  • I don’t feel safe at work and social distancing isn’t working
  • I’ve been asked to return but I have childcare responsibilities – what can I do?
  • I’m worried if I don’t accept the new terms, I could lose my job.

With the furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) due to end 30th June, employers will be considering how to manage their businesses and employees going forward into the summer and autumn as restrictions (hopefully) ease.

Changes to staff members terms and conditions of employment will need to be considered carefully depending on the individual’s particular circumstances following their period of furlough. 

Employers cannot impose variations to contracts unilaterally without consent and without following the correct process.

Changes to employment contracts can be made by:

  • Mutual agreement
  • Collective agreement
  • Variations
  • Unilateral imposition of new terms
  • Dismissal and re-engagement on new terms

While considering employees returning to work, employers will also need to ensure they are complaint with relevant legislation and current Government guidance ie. Social distancing, provision of PPE, or having a specific Coronavirus risk assessment.

With so many of us working remotely from home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, this could alter our future ways of working.  All employees have the right by law to request flexible working.  These requests however can be turned down by an employer if they have reasonable cause to do so.  

The Prime Minister will be taking questions form MPs in Parliament after 3pm today and we will be updating our website with further clarification once this is received.

If you are worried about returning to work after being furloughed on terms and conditions you don’t feel happy with, contact Lisa Aitken who is our specialist employment solicitor who can explain the current situation and your legal rights. Email or call 07960 469988 for free initial advice.

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