Should I be working from home or going back to the office? - Everything you need to know about returning to work

Following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on July 19, people will no longer be asked to work from home – Here’s what Citizens Advice in Sunderland you need to know if you’re asked to return to your normal workplace.

After months of pandemic-related constraints, England has finally reached the last step in the Government’s unlocking road map on Monday, July 19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for caution as the country unlocked and led a press conference virtually on Monday as he self-isolates following contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has Covid-19.

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The changes mean face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport, limits on gatherings have gone, the work from home guidance no longer applies and social distancing rules ended at one minute past midnight.

See Citizens Advice's working from home guidance. (Shutterstock)

Can my employer now ask me to return to my normal workplace?

Yes, when you enter into a contract to work for an employer you have to comply with ‘reasonable management requests’, so your employer can ask you to return to your normal workplace if your original contract specified that you would be office-based or based elsewhere.

However, many employers are looking into or are actively encouraging a blended working model with some time at home and some time in the workplace.

Citizens Advice suggest having an open conversation with your employer and to consider making a flexible working request, which is a legal right all employees have.

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What can I do if I’m worried about safety measures at work?

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Your employer has a legal duty, and under your contract, to ensure that your workplace does not pose a risk to your health and safety.

Currently, guidance says employers should complete a Covid risk assessment and take steps to prevent transmission, including frequent cleaning and social distancing – which is due to be updated.

Wearing a mask is no longer mandatory but employers will still be free to set their own policies like requiring workers or customers to wear masks.

What happens if I need to self-isolate?

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You must tell your employer that you have to self-isolate – Citizens Advice say it’s worth telling them in writing so you have a record for later use.

If you’re unable to work from home, you may be entitled to benefits, sick pay or a self-isolation payment of £500 from your local council.

Staff who have been furloughed before, might be able to be furloughed again for the period they need to self-isolate.

Rules on self-isolating are changing from August 16, so if you’ve had your second vaccination, you won’t need to self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

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Denise Irving, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Sunderland, said: “With restrictions ending and workplaces reopening, people will understandably have questions about their rights. While you can ask to continue working from home, your employer doesn’t have to agree.

“If you have any concerns, it’s important to talk with your employer as soon as possible so that you can reach a solution that works for both of you.

“For more information visit the Citizens Advice website or contact Citizens Advice Sunderland on 0808 278 7950.”

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