Who is exempt from going back to work as Boris Johnson urges employees to return?

WORKERS have been told to down tools at home and to return to offices from August 1 but does everyone have to go back?

Boris Johnson has today confirmed workers in England should return if they can, while people have been told they can now safely travel on public transport.

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Employers, of course, still need to ensure businesses are covid-secure before workers can return.

This includes making sure people can safely social distance, and upping hygiene and cleaning regimes.

And Michael Newman, partner at law firm Leigh Day, told The Sun that now that the government has declared work places and public transport safe it will be very hard to argue against going back to your office or workplace.

He points out that employers are within their rights to tell you where they'd like you to work.

From August 1, the rules on shielding will also be scrapped meaning you no longer need to stay at home if you have a higher risk of contracting the virus.

But Mr Newman points out there are a few instances where it's still worth discussing your options and if you can continue to work from home with your employer.

Am I exempt from returning to work?

No-one is technically exempt from returning to work unless they're showing symptoms of coronavirus.

In this scenario, you should continue to self-isolate for at least seven days and you shouldn't go to work or even leave your home. See the NHS website for more on what to do in this situation.

You may be able to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) while you're self-isolating.

Workers can also claim SSP while shielding, although it's likely this will end from August 1.

If you come off shielding or you feel you're at high risk of catching coronavirus it's worth discussing your options with your employer.

If you're pregnant, for example, charity Citizens Advice points out that your employer has an extra responsibility to make changes to your job so it’s safe for you to keep working.

And if it can’t make changes to ensure you’re safe, it could give you a different role to do.

If you have a health condition or you're over 70 it's also worth talking to your boss to discuss your options if you're concerned about going back in.

Employment body Acas says employers should support your decision to work from home if you can continue to do so, and Mr Johnson today that working from home is still an option.

What if I refuse to go back to work?

If you ultimately decide not to go in and your boss fires you, Mr Newman says you may have grounds to bring an unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal.

According to Acas, your boss can't fire you if it's because you're pregnant, your age, or a health condition that's considered to be a disability.

Alternatively, if you feel you've been dismissed because of discrimination owing to your age or due to a disability, for example, you may also be able to bring a claim to an employment tribunal.

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