Pressured to return to office but cases rising locally. Where is their duty of care?

(477 Posts)
Nutsoh Sun 20-Jun-21 21:59:57

Despite WFH successfully since last March we’ve been told over the past few weeks that our offices now have to be manned to 50% in a bid to transition back to full occupancy.

Some managers have turned the thumbscrews on their teams to —force— encourage part of their departments back, they’ve pushed the teams that have a lot of static equipment back in FT and allowed those with laptops the benefit of coming and going when they please with their laptops.

Despite the 2m rule we are allowed to sit in the office, anything up to 10 of us without masks, just needing to put masks on to walk around. There is a one way system but the kitchen is a free for all and you can go into the toilet right after someone else has just used it even though ventilation is poor.

So, I didnt have too much of an issue with this but cases are now rising locally and I feel it’s only a matter of time that it’s going to go through the office. We’ve all had at least one jab but I’m starting to feel a little anxious about someone getting it and it running through the whole building.

So, from a duty of care POV, if someone gets Covid through work and it leaves them seriously I’ll or with long Covid where does that leave the company legally seeing as they’ve more or less forced people back in despite the guidance still being to WFH if you can.

Can people take action against their company if this happens?

OP’s posts: |
CarrieBlue Sun 20-Jun-21 23:27:46

Teachers can’t against the education Secretary.

BeckyWithTheGoodHair5629456 Sun 20-Jun-21 23:29:58

Plenty of people have worked throughout lockdown. Healthcare professionals, teachers, cleaners, supermarket staff, workers in manufacturing... etc etc etc.
You're being ridiculous.

Temp023 Sun 20-Jun-21 23:30:26

Go back to work! Are you going to sit at home forever? You are vaccinated, those around you are vaccinated, time to get on with your life!

RaspberryCoulis Sun 20-Jun-21 23:33:07

You might think you've been working from home successfully. Your employer disagrees.

You say you and your colleagues have all had a jab which offers good protection.

You appear to be over anxious and no, you can't sue your employer. You are of course free to hand in your notice if you don't wish to work there any more.

Justwingingit2005 Sun 20-Jun-21 23:34:42

The way I see it (and I'm wfh still) is when I'm told to go back I will do and not worry.
I am going shopping, going to pubs etc and I have kids at school. I will be vaccinated.

We can't live like this forever. Life has to go on.

What if a teacher gets covid and is seriously ill. They can't wfh. What about all the nurses and drs who died of covid last year.

roobicoobi Sun 20-Jun-21 23:45:32

Cases are rising but restrictions are not being implemented. Many people have been at work throughout.


RosesAndHellebores Sun 20-Jun-21 23:46:53

Hmm. So you have more personal value than: Drs, nurses, retail workers, hospitality workers, police, armed forces, teachers, bus, taxi, train workers.

Please op tell me you have relied entirely on supermarket deliveries, haven't been to a pub or restaurant since 23rd March and most certainly aren't contemplating a holiday.

The only bit of your post I agree with is about masks. If one member of the team isn't comfy with another not wearing a mask you all wear them.

You do realise the proportional risks are very low. 127,000/66,000,000 = 0.19% of dying. That's 99.81% of not dying.

Perspective op.

RoseRedRoseBlue Sun 20-Jun-21 23:59:11

You just don’t want to go back to the office full stop do you? I get it, neither do I. But that’s life and we have to get on with it.

XenoBitch Mon 21-Jun-21 00:01:24

Not sure how you arrive to the conclusion that your employer has a duty of care to you regarding Covid, when it is something you can pick up absolutely anywhere.

Distance yourself from colleagues, wear a mask if able, and don't share stuff.

helpmebeanadult Mon 21-Jun-21 00:12:10

Going against the grain here OP, but I see your point. The guidance is to wfh where possible and employers that go against this are wrong. Wfh protects those that can't wfh and those that can.

Lazypuppy Mon 21-Jun-21 00:14:23

Everything you describe is pretty standard in every office, and has been for most of the year for covid restrictions.

Same as in restaurants about no masks when sat down and toilets...

Wellbythebloodyhell Mon 21-Jun-21 03:12:13

Suck it up buttercup some have been working in such "conditions " and in many cases worse conditions all the way through. Welcome to reality!

yeahdarling Mon 21-Jun-21 03:18:34

10 in an office? Adults that can socially distance?

Lots of work places offer nowhere near this level of covid security.

However, to help keep people who cannot socially distance in their jobs it's important that everyone who can work from home does.

Therefore, I feel that you should push to be able to work from home.

tappitytaptap Mon 21-Jun-21 03:20:46

You can’t stay at home forever…. Sounds fine to me. Do you never go to the supermarket, pubs or restaurants?!

HoppingHamster Mon 21-Jun-21 03:29:19

You do realise the proportional risks are very low. 127,000/66,000,000 = 0.19% of dying. That's 99.81% of not dying

You do realise that’s not how statistics work right?

NiceTwin Mon 21-Jun-21 03:30:43

Honestly, get a grip and get back to work. Stop thinking of action you can take for something that is yet to and may never happen.
Once you make that first step, it is fine. I have worked right through, distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing is just the new normal.
Our school is cleaner than it ever has been with the enhanced cleaning, so that's a win grin

BanningTheWordNaice Mon 21-Jun-21 04:18:16

I really don’t understand the people pushing everyone back to the office on MN and wonder if they even work. My office have cancelled coming back in 9-5 for a while because we’re working from home, anyone who does need to come in is given space to distance. I wouldn’t have respect for a manager or institution that did force us back but then it helps that it’s full of scientists who are aware of the severity of the situation.

BanningTheWordNaice Mon 21-Jun-21 04:19:16

Working really well* from home

DadAManger Mon 21-Jun-21 04:49:39

You asked a sensible question OP and have mostly received a rather vitriolic response.

There is a legal duty of care - which is based on what is reasonable at the time in the circumstances. I don’t personally think that your employer would be guilty of breaching this, however it is a long time since I studied employment law at law school.

However, you are not wrong to consider the dangers.

For those saying ‘you’ve had your jab’, note that the advice has shifted due to the Delta variant. You now need two jabs before you are anything like properly protected against the Delta variant - read what the Government has said on this if unsure.

For those saying ‘I’ve been working all the way through’ - some have and they have (and should have) our absolute admiration, especially those in the NHS who are incredible. That does not help the OP poster in her daily decisions however and her getting sick and potentially long-Covid will not help our NHS either.

If it was me, I would ask to clearly discuss with the most senior management you can, why you cannot continue WFH longer when you had done this for so long and when this is still Government guidance, where possible.

PiccalilliChilli Mon 21-Jun-21 05:55:26

I work in public transport so I've not been able to work from home smile.

Lots of ads saying, "Welcome back London!" when a lot of the working population never went away.

Right now I share buses with others, tube trains with hundreds of others, the Jubilee line is usually packed!

But vaccination has proved popular and most employers are trying to adapt their workplaces to the new normal, like office redesign, better ventilation, providing PPE and hand sanitiser.

I understand people's anxieties (I have them myself) but we have to be sensible. We have to get back to some kind of normal.

Can you negotiate to go in maybe one or two days a week? Or have a transition period (like settling children into nursery) with a gradual return over six weeks?

Are you in a union? My union made sure we worked safely at the height of each wave. Could you join one?

Waxonwaxoff0 Mon 21-Jun-21 05:59:29


10 in an office? Adults that can socially distance?

Lots of work places offer nowhere near this level of covid security.

However, to help keep people who cannot socially distance in their jobs it's important that everyone who can work from home does.

Therefore, I feel that you should push to be able to work from home.

As someone who can't WFH I find it SO irritating when people act like they are doing me a huge favour by staying at home. You're not. You want to WFH because you prefer it, which is fine, but just tell the truth instead of acting like it's a big noble act.

HappyTimeTunnelDinosaur Mon 21-Jun-21 05:59:40

I agree with you sort of. I also don't understand why everyone keeps shouting that people need to return ASAP. Many have been working just as well, if not better from home and the impact on the environment is amazing. To me more people being able to wfh is a fantastic opportunity for less car journeys and better air quality etc.

Mindymomo Mon 21-Jun-21 06:04:24

My DS2 works in manufacturing so cannot work from home, they have had 3 different occasions of covid amongst thrm, they now do LFT tests once a week and wear watches that ping if you are within 2 metres of someone. He takes food and drinks in, so doesn’t use the kitchen and sits in car or outside for lunch.

My DS1 works in a large office, no masks but they are fairly spaced out. He feels safe, he just tells people if they come too near to stand back. They are gradually getting more people back, some just doing 2 days a week. He struggled working at home as he works with a team and it’s easier being in the office.

user1487194234 Mon 21-Jun-21 06:05:42

I honestly think you should get back to work

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