COVID 19 – know your rights
Guidance for disabled members and those with underlying health conditions.
We know that disabled people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than non-disabled people. The government has acknowledged this and has produced guidance for two groups of workers with underlying health conditions that it calls “clinically vulnerable” and “extremely clinically vulnerable” (or “shielded”).
Although the government has made some changes to its guidance, it is still advising that these workers should work from home if possible. The advice is even stronger for extremely vulnerable or “shielded” workers.
But what does this mean in practice for you and your job? Employers have a particular duty to look after the safety of their disabled staff during the current crisis and this guide outlines your rights at work.
The Equality Act 2010
Whether you are in the “vulnerable” or “extremely vulnerable” category, if you are a disabled worker as defined by the Equality Act 2010 then you have additional rights that are particularly important at this time. The Equality Act defines a disabled person as someone who has a mental or physical impairment which has lasted, or is likely to last, 12 months or more. Disabled people have the right not to be directly or indirectly discriminated against in employment. You also have the right to reasonable adjustments if you experience disadvantage at work.
Disabled people face a disadvantage at work as they are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Working from home may therefore be a reasonable adjustment for these staff. If your employer is unwilling to accept this then please speak to your UNISON rep.