Can I still work?

Can my employer go on working and can I still go to work?

The simple answer is that except those specific businesses ordered to close by government, you can continue to go to work so long as you or your employer:

  1. Are not a business that’s on the list required to close
  2. Can’t work from home
  3. Respect government social distancing rules at work

My note to constituents on this issue:

Many people ask this, perhaps because the first line of government advice is Stay Home - which some interpret to mean ‘don’t go to work’.

But the exceptions to the Stay Home message are as important as the message itself and they include going to work if you cannot work at home. 

In practice that means for example almost all working in construction, machinery plants, manufacturing or engineering businesses. I have a lot of constituents in these sectors, some of whom have been in touch.

So here are the ground rules. Only those businesses which have been ordered to close by the government must do so. (The full list is here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876905/300320_Revised_Guidance.pdf)

If you or a member of your family are working in a business not on this list which can continue to operate safely  then of course those businesses can go on doing so - and you too should carry on provided:

a.) you’re not showing coronavirus symptoms

b.) neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. 

This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Employers with staff in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

As set out in the section on closing certain businesses and venues, the Government has published guidance on which organisations are covered by this requirement. Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.

At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows symptoms.

I hope this is helpful and confirms that the government is not trying to shut down the whole economy - but it does expect both employers and employees to be very responsible about safety in the workplace and to follow the rules.

The full guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#going-to-work

Stay Safe and do contact me if you have any queries!