Skip to main content

Employers Must Make Reasonable Adjustments Or Pay The Price.



You may have come across this article because of the latest announcement made by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson about relaxing the lockdown measures. The announcement caused divisions in the public with many confused as to how things will work.

Even the UK government are not in agreement over the new message been changed from STAY HOME SAVE LIVES to STAY ALERT. The Scottish first Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed the "stay at home" message remains in place and has disapproved the stay home message from the any Scottish media outlets. 

As it stands, only England will be following the new message “Stay Alert”. The news came with unclear instructions on which business can reopen. Today the Prime Minister answered some questions about what to do and how to get by. You should only go back to work if you cannot work from home and try to do so by avoiding public transport as much as you can. Employers are expected to follow some guidelines on making this place safe for employees to work in.

I Don’t Feel Safe Going Back to Work

A lot of people have been speaking out on social media platforms about going back to work. The government has left this to the employer to decide upon. With nurseries still shut and schools still shut till June 1 the earliest for reception, year 1 and year 6, a lot of workers don’t have the resources to look after their kids while they are at work. The lockdown still means no visits to grandparents so it’s almost an impossible mission to return back to work.

With some employers already informing their employees to get back to work, we look at some of the issues employees will be facing and what you can do. Ever heard of section 44 employment rights? Some unfair employers would probably be hoping that employees don’t know about this.

According to gov.uk, full wordings can be found here


This act provides employees with the rights to contest the capability and/or suitability of safety arrangements without fear of getting a sack or facing any disciplinary action or suffering any detriment such as loss of wages, bonus or benefits.

An Employee has the right stay away from the workplace if he/she feels unsafe because the employer has not made reasonable adjustment to his/her working conditions. Now this is left for a debate, an employee could claim constructive dismissal in event he/she had to resign because an employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments to make the employee safe. Now this is the worrying part, constructive dismissal cases are very difficult to claim so employees who intend to do so must not follow certain guidelines; it is advisable to seek legal counsel before you resign from your post.

What is reasonable adjustment?

Employers are expected to make the workplace safe for employees to return to work. This is the worrying part for employers. No doubts there would be a surge in employment tribunal claims once the lockdown measures are relaxed and almost all the industries have reopened.
Claims from redundancy, discrimination claims and constructive dismissal claims are going to be very popular. Employers need to stay alert and follow employment laws thoroughly so they are not found guilty of breaking it.

The government will be announcing steps and guides for employers to put in place to make workplace safe for employees to return to work.

My Workplace is Safe but What About My kids, Transportation Issues?

It’s a bit of a dilemma on this one. For some workers, even if the employer makes their workplace safe to return, it would be unreasonable for you to make it to work. Some of the challenges might be where to put your kids or how to get to work without putting yourself and family at risk whilst using the public transport. Some employers may feel that their employer is been unreasonable on how he/she can make it to work without using the public transport or having to look after kids who can’t be in school and no childcare services to look after them.

Unfortunately, the current laws only protect someone who has a health condition(s) that affects their ability to perform work duties – disabled person. This current pandemic lockdown issues will definitely open new windows to more translation of the employment laws.

Employers are expected to be reasonable in their demands to bring back their employees however; it appears there are no musts in doing so. Everyone is lost on this one and I can say that the first step is making your request known to the employer for a change of working conditions. If it is not possible to go to work due to the welfare of your kids or a loved one who you are responsible for, this can be classed as a health and safety issue.

One of the Health and Safety HSE employee responsibilities is - “take care of your own health and safety and that of people who may be affected by what you do (or do not do);” This is open for argument but it can be said that your kids will be affected by your actions. It is evident that there are no child services open for business and you can prove that you are responsible for their well-being, then your employer is expected to act reasonably to work things out with you on how you can safely return back to work. It may be that your return to work will put your kids at risk.

Hopefully, things are resolved between you and your employer but whatever you do, read your contract terms and your employer's health and safety guidelines. If you are having problems with your employer, you can contact Acas for help.

Please subscribe for more employment news and resources.

Comments