COVID-19: What if my employee refuses to come to work anxious about becoming infected?

legal updates

The employer has a duty of care towards its employees to protect their health and well-being.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

There is no general entitlement not to come to work for someone who is not ill and is not deemed to be incapacitated as above but does not want to come to work for fear of being exposed to the coronavirus.

There is no advice at present to shut down workplaces, even after a contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

Having said that, the employer has a duty of care towards its employees to protect their health and well-being. This includes following the current advice on protecting the workplace against the coronavirus infection.

The employer, for example, will be expected to make available facilities for the staff to wash hands regularly, to sanitise work surfaces, to insist that members of staff showing the symptoms of coronavirus go into self-isolation as per our previous update. The Government is not currently of the view that face masks should be worn by healthy individuals as protection.

It may be helpful to have a consultation meeting with the employee concerned about catching the infection at work to allay the anxiety and perhaps to offer some adjustments. The Government has announced that working from home should be considered where possible. Flexible working should also be considered. Change of start and finish times may be helpful so that the staff do not have to travel to work at peak times.

A specific situation will arise if someone has a chronic anxiety disorder, which is aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic. The chronic mental health condition is likely to be classed as a disability, and allowing the employee to take some time off or to implement, or at the very least consider and consult with the employee about, any adjustments which may be helpful in reducing the anxiety is the employer’s duty.

If your employee does not have any anxiety-related disability, and refuses to come to work acting unreasonably, this should be dealt with as unauthorised absence and disciplinary matter.

Brave AgencyDriving growth in the automotive industry

Brave is an award-winning digital agency offering a comprehensive range of services aimed at helping your business grow. From rebrands and web development to marketing campaigns that get you noticed, we do it all. Since 2000, we’ve helped businesses across the automotive sector reach new heights. Could yours be next?

Kiril MoskovchukTrainee SolicitorRead More by this author

Related Legal Updates

Extension of Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and New Parents

Explore the strengthened redundancy protections for new parents with significant amendments to maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave rights, effective from April 2024, ensuring enhanced job security during critical family milestones.

Changes to Flexible Working

Unveil the new landscape of flexible working rights with the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, now granting ‘day-one’ rights to employees and setting a precedent for more adaptable workplace practices effective from 6 April 2024.

New employment legislation effective from 6 April 2024

Enhanced employee rights, offering day-one entitlements to carer’s leave, flexible working arrangements, and extended redundancy protection for pregnant employees and those on family leave.

Wages increasing from 1 April 2024

With effect from 1 April 2024, the hourly rates of pay are…

Employment Law: Carer’s Leave

The regulations explicitly safeguard employees from any detriment or dismissal resulting from taking or seeking to take carer’s leave.

Employment Law: Annual Leave Changes

Several significant changes came into force on 1 January 2024 that affect the statutory annual leave and pay entitlements.

The office Christmas party season is here

Where an employee makes comments concerning a person’s body parts or style of dress that are intended to be good-natured but are perceived as offensive…

Get in touch

Complete the form to get in touch or via our details below:

01480 455500

Vinpenta House
High Causeway

By submitting this quote you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.