Before your employer can ask you to return to work, there are several things they have to do to make sure that going back to work is as safe for you as possible. If your employer is asking you to return to work, go through this checklist and make sure they have completed all the steps:
1. Has your employer conducted a risk assessment?
Before your employer asks you to return to work, they should complete a risk assessment to understand how to best control the health and safety risks in their workplace.
2. Has your employer consulted their workforce as part of the risk assessment?
As part of this risk assessment, your employer has to undertake a collective consultation with their workforce. If your workplace has a recognised trade union, then your employer has to consult the health and safety representatives of that union. If your place of work doesn't have a recognised trade union, then your employer still has to consult with representatives selected by the workforce to represent their interests.
3. Has your employer told you about the risks, and made a plan for how to reduce them?
Once your employer has completed the risk assessment, they should let everyone at work know they've done this. They should inform everyone of what risks they have identified, and what measures they have taken to prevent or reduce the risk of harm. In general, workplaces that do re-open will need to provide their workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) unless they can show that they have dealt with the health risks of COVID-19 using other measures which are just as effective, or more effective, at controlling the risk of the virus.
I haven't heard about any risk assessments at my workplace - what should I do?
If your employer hasn't been in touch yet to tell you about their risk assessment, the first step should be to ask them whether they have completed a risk assessment already - and, if not, when they plan on doing this.
If the risk assessment hasn't been completed yet, you should find out who your health and safety reps are and make sure you let them know about any specific concerns you have around your safety at work - for example if you're pregnant, have a chronic illness, autoimmune condition, or other health condition that makes you particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.
My employer did complete a risk assessment, but I still don't feel safe - what should I do?
If the risk assessment has been completed, but you don't feel that the steps your employer has taken to reduce the risk are good enough, you can use this template to voice your concerns and start a constructive conversation with your employer about workplace safety.
If you use this template to start a conversation with your employer and this leads to a disagreement you need help resolving, or if you have any questions about safety at work that weren't answered by this blog post, please get in touch using the form below and we will put you in touch with one of our approved lawyers:
Disclaimer: Any guides provided by Organise are for self-help only. These templates are not tailored to your specific circumstances, do not constitute legal advice from qualified lawyers and are not covered by lawyer-client privilege. All decisions you make on legal matters are your full responsibility and you agree to obtain advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any legal issue of enough importance to reasonably require it.