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Want to know more about staying safe and healthy at work? Ask GMB Union’s experts - £100 voucher to be won

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JustineBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-May-20 10:51:47

Coronavirus has changed work in ways we could never have anticipated. If you’ve been furloughed or you’re working from home, recent encouragement for some employers to get their employees back to work may have left you feeling confused about how this can be managed safely. So, for part 2 of GMB Union’s Work Clinic, their experts would like to help answer your questions about your right to return to work safely.

Here’s what GMB Union has to say: “GMB is the trade union for everyone. Our job is simple: protecting, defending and extending your rights in the workplace and beyond.

That means being there to fight your corner if you have a problem, big or small – and working to get you a better deal. Whatever the issue, we have thousands of highly trained staff and expert activists to support you. From securing proper sick pay in workplaces and ensuring wage support, to leading demands for proper protective equipment at the Government top table – we make sure our members’ voices are heard locally and nationally.

That’s the power of getting a union on your side. With GMB that’s what you get: a family that stands up for you.”

Want to know who will be answering your questions? Find some information on GMB’s experts below:

Lynsey Mann, National Health & Safety Officer at GMB

“Lynsey is GMB's National Health, Safety and Environment Officer. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Environmental Health. Before joining GMB she worked at London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) for 9 years, in various Environmental Protection and Public Health roles. During her time at LBBD, Lynsey was also a GMB equality activist and a founding member of GMB Sisters women’s self-organised group. In her spare time, Lynsey is a long distance runner who runs half marathons most weekends and is training for her second London Marathon. She also enjoys baking cakes and knitting clothes for her family and friends' children.”

Susan Harris, Director of Legal Services at GMB

“Sue is a solicitor and has been Director of Legal Services at GMB since March 2018, particularly dealing with collective issues. Previously employed at Thompsons Solicitors for 28 years as an employment law specialist, Sue acted for unions and their members on an individual and collective basis. She was appointed as a salaried partner with Thompsons when pregnant with 1st child (1993) and full equity partner when pregnant with 3rd child (1996). She is now a mother of 3 daughters, 3 cats, 4 tortoises and numerous fish. She has an abhorrence of exercise; was a regular theatre goer in pre-lock down world, so is now reading more!”

Rehana Azam, National Secretary, Public Services at GMB

“With over two decades’ experience of fighting for workers' rights with GMB, Rehana is one of the trade union movement’s most senior BAME women. She leads national negotiations with employers to improve workers’ pay, terms and conditions and is a fierce campaigner. Rehana is a proud mum of one boy safely brought into the world thanks to the NHS, as well as a gorgeous King Charles Cavalier named Archie. She's a couch to 5K type of runner, but has marched hundreds of miles for the NHS and will dust off her marching boots again after lockdown.”

Would you like to understand what your employer should be doing to enable safe and protective physical distancing? Perhaps you’d like more information on what your employer should now be providing so that you can do your job safely? Do you want to know what your rights are if you don’t believe your workplace to be safe?

Whatever your questions surrounding health and safety in the workplace at this time, please ask them below by midday on the 26th May. GMB Union’s experts will be back between 3 and 4pm on Thursday 28th May to answer your questions.

All who post a question (regardless of whether it is answered or not) will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £100 voucher for the store of their choice (from a list).

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!

MNHQ

Insight Terms and Conditions apply

BrandyandBabycham Mon 18-May-20 14:42:07

I work 16 hours a week at The Range but haven’t been in since just before lockdown as I was so worried about being exposed to Covid 19. Because the store remained open, I wasn’t able to claim any wages but was told I wouldn’t get into trouble or lose my job. I wanted to ask if there’s a cut off point where if I still haven’t gone back, my Manager could assume I have left. I am considering going back when the schools go back ( my daughter is 11 & in year 6) but of course that may not happen. So many uncertainties for all of us.

BristolMum96 Mon 18-May-20 15:27:08

Can I refuse to work and still be paid if there is no available correct ppe? (Work at general dentist so ppe must be exactly right), if the conditions are not met can my employer refuse to pay me if I refuse to work unsafely?

crosser62 Mon 18-May-20 15:44:58

I work front line nhs. We have been sent from central government masks to wear that expired in 2016. There has been a label placed over this expiry date that says “expiration 2019”.

My colleagues have each taken a picture of this in case anything happens to them, their families have some evidence.

This is not right, we know it’s not right, but what can be done either now or when my colleagues begin to get ill or even die because of this?

TheModicum Mon 18-May-20 17:36:58

I am self employed but work in a large building with a lot of other commercial units in it (though I'm working from home at the moment). The landlord has closed the building up until now but seems to have taken the shift from 'stay at home' to 'stay alert' as a signal to reopen this week, presumably because they've had to give us a break on the rent while it's closed and they'd like to stop that asap. I'm concerned about hygiene in a building used by so many people. Up until now there's been a cleaner coming in to clean loos and sweep/mop floors once a week but I don't think that's enough in the circumstances (it's barely enough in ordinary times). What rights do people working here have to compel the landlord to do more? Is there a union or similar bargaining organisation people here could join? Most of us are in creative industries. If we formed a union shop ourselves, could we get it affiliated to a bigger union? Or do we need to just suck it up and do the best we can for ourselves?

MIIRSM Mon 18-May-20 17:51:00

Where is/who is answering these questions and where are the answers?
Or is it GMB members who post what they think the answer is?

foxessocks Mon 18-May-20 18:21:39

Do you think employees should have to share vehicles if there isn't enough vehicles not to?

torthecatlady Mon 18-May-20 21:16:03

I'm currently furloughed from my office, however will hopefully be back by the end of lockdown. My worry is that we often pass order forms to one another. What's the best way around this?

desperatehousewife21 Tue 19-May-20 17:09:26

My work has furloughed 75% of staff, the rest of the (working) staff has had a 20% pay cut but are still being asked to work our normal hours (from home). So the remaining staff are being paid the same as the furloughed staff, but still having to do 100% of the work. Is this legal?

SDM88 Tue 19-May-20 17:10:12

Can I refuse to work if I feel that the workplace is unsafe due to lack of PPE or other safety measures?

SnowyMouse Tue 19-May-20 17:31:03

I'm a carer. Can I be forced to work with clients who are covid positive?

OhWesternWind Tue 19-May-20 17:32:41

Our team has been told to come in and do work in (mainly) empty buildings but that we can’t use the toilets, wash our hands or drink the water as it will need rechlorinating before it’s safe to use. Is it legal for us to be in work without these facilities?

mummy81 Tue 19-May-20 17:33:12

I work in an office environment but don't have a set desk as most plp hot desk. How can I be sure the desk and eqquipment I use is free from the virus?

KateOxford Tue 19-May-20 17:39:19

What safety measures would you suggest putting into place for staff sharing a kitchen, and toilet facilities?

fishnships Tue 19-May-20 17:40:29

During the lockdown I have realized that I prefer being a stay at home mum - what would be the best way to terminate my employment?

Babe Tue 19-May-20 17:43:23

I have to commute into London to get to my office. Given there is no way that you can be 2M apart on public transport, am I allowed to refuse to return to work on those grounds?

Olinguito Tue 19-May-20 17:45:37

What are the rights of workers who may be willing to return to the workplace, but who cannot get there without using over-crowded public transport which does not feel safe, and can't work from home?

Sorryoo Tue 19-May-20 17:49:05

I am on the shielded list - my DH asked if he could be furloughed due to this and his company did not even know what the term “shielding” meant. Do you think the government are negligent in not properly protecting the rights of shielded workers
and their families? The government guidelines are just that - guidelines and so woolly and vague employers do not have to do anything - it’s all “should” and “could” not “must”. I believe that people in this situation need protecting and ideally they would be allowed leave similar to maternity leave ie paid and protected from dismissal. How do you think people could give this issue a higher profile and achieve this other than writing to their MPs (who do not answer)?

MarsBarRover Tue 19-May-20 17:54:08

I work in a secondary school. My son (who also attends the school) is asthmatic. There is talk of his year group going back to school soon. Do I have to send him? Will I be penalised if he doesn’t go back before September? Also, if I decide to stay off work to protect him, can my school refuse to pay me? Many thanks

36degrees Tue 19-May-20 18:04:05

Are employers being briefed on the varying potential of Coronavirus on different equality groups? As a line manager is there a clear and reputable source of advice I can access to keep my team safe and my employer protected?

MakeTeaNotWar Tue 19-May-20 18:12:48

I travel my Tube to my London office - it's too far to cycle. Can I refuse to come into work as I can't be sure that public transport is virus free?

elizaco Tue 19-May-20 18:28:33

Does having vulnerable people at home rather than being vulnerable myself (ie asthmatic, reduced immunity) provide me with any different working condition rights?

sarat1 Tue 19-May-20 18:41:37

What is the level of risk when using a shared printer at work?

MacBlank Tue 19-May-20 18:47:30

I don't currently work, but I know some are worried that with schools still closed, can an employer sack you for refusing to return to work while your kids are still home.

What rights does an employee have to refuse to go back to work if they've been furloughed?

Also I hear stories of those who've fallen through the cracks due to not being on the paybooks in time for when lockdown began, and the current employer refusing to furlough them, can they FORCE their previous employer to furlough them, so they can get something.

Hopezibah Tue 19-May-20 18:58:39

As a family we don't feel the decisions have been made in time to protect people as well as they could have been. So at the start of this we made the decision to take children out of school at the beginning of March before 1st UK covid death and self isolated since then. So I won't feel things are safe until risk level is below that point. I'm worried that we won't get a choice though and people will be forced back to school and work before it is 100 % safe to do so.

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