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Returning to work

At the moment, anyone who can work from home should continue to do so. However, with more businesses now able to open again, you may be asked to go back into the workplace. If you have concerns about childcare or safety when you go back, this page has further information that can help.

What are my childcare options if I need to go back to work?

With restrictions easing, getting childcare has become more straightforward. Our page on childcare explains your options.

I've been asked to go back to work but can't get childcare, what are my rights?

Who can be asked to go back into the workplace?

Currently the advice is that if you can work from home, you should. This applies to all sectors and occupations, including key workers. If you can’t work from home and your employer needs you to come back into the workplace, they should talk to you about this first so you can be included in any decisions where possible. There’s useful information about returning to work on the ACAS website.

Can I ask to continue working from home?

Currently the advice is that if you can work from home, you should. So if it’s possible to do your job from home, you should continue to do this. The Scottish Government is asking employers to be as supportive and flexible as they can, to allow people with caring responsibilities to carry on working from home. You can see the joint statement from the Scottish Government and Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) about fair work during the coronavirus pandemic here.

Can I ask for a reduction in hours, or to work at different times of the day?

The Scottish Government is asking employers to be flexible with employees who are currently unable to return to work, working from home or are working under different arrangements due to childcare commitments. This means they should consider any requests for paid leave, reduced hours or different working patterns. Employers are being asked to take account of travel to work considerations and childcare arrangements, so should listen to your requests and help you if possible.
 

Can I ask to be furloughed?

If you’re currently on furlough, you can ask to be kept on furlough for a bit longer. If you’re a parent who has been on extended leave, you can ask to be furloughed now. You can find out more at the UK Government website.

Can I get parental leave?

You may be able to take unpaid parental leave. You can find out more about this on the Scottish Government website.

Can I take time off as holiday or unpaid leave?

You may be able to arrange with your employer to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave. You can find out more about this on the ACAS website

Can I be made redundant if I can’t go back to work because of childcare issues?

During the coronavirus pandemic, you still have the same employment rights. These include your rights around redundancy. If you believe you’ve been unfairly selected for redundancy, or that your employer didn’t follow a fair redundancy process, you can appeal. You can find out more about your redundancy rights at the ACAS website.

Can I be made redundant because I chose to be furloughed?

Your rights as an employee are not affected by being on furlough. This includes your redundancy rights, which means your employer can’t make you redundant just because you chose to be furloughed.

What can I do if I feel I’ve been discriminated against because I'm caring for children?

If you feel you’ve been discriminated against or stereotyped because of your sex, you should raise this issue with your employer. The ACAS website has more advice on what to do if you believe you’re being discriminated against.

What financial support is available if I can’t go back to work or have to work reduced hours?

You may be able to apply for Universal Credit if your income is reduced, or you're not working. You may also be able to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund. Our page on financial support has more information.

What if I have safety concerns?

Is it safe for me to go back to work?

Employers must make the workplace as safe as possible for staff, customers and anyone else who visits.

The Scottish Government is working with employers, trade unions, regulators and others to develop guidance to help different sectors create safe working environments for when people return to work.

As each workplace is different, businesses are being asked to work with trade unions or workforce representatives to decide how best to do this.

You can read the Scottish Government’s guidance for the following sectors here:

Guidance for other sectors will be added here as it’s published.

If you have concerns about returning to work, talk to your employer. They should listen to your concerns and take steps to protect you if at all possible. For example, they could offer extra car parking where possible so that you can avoid using public transport, or arrange for you to work different hours temporarily to avoid peak time travel. The ACAS website has more information

If you're disabled you can also request reasonable adjustments to help you do your job.

What if don’t think my workplace is safe?

If you’re worried that your workplace isn’t safe, you have rights under employment law. The ACAS website has more information. If you’re a member of a trade union, you can also speak to your trade union representative. You can also raise enquiries about working safely with the Health and Safety Executive and with Local Authority Environmental Health Officers.

Can I be made redundant if I don’t go back to work because of safety concerns?

During the coronavirus pandemic, you still have the same employment rights. These include your rights around redundancy. If you believe you’ve been unfairly selected for redundancy, or that your employer didn’t follow a fair redundancy process, you can appeal. You can find out more about your redundancy rights at the ACAS website

I’m shielding, do I have to return to work?

On 1 August shielding was paused altogether, which means you should be able to return to work, if required and it is safe to do so. If you can work from home, you should continue to do so.

Employers must make workplaces safe for all employees. They should take into account the needs of people with underlying health conditions. You can find out more about the risk assessment process and download a useful tool you can use with your employer here.

If you have any concerns about returning to work, talk to your employer about it. You may be able to arrange to be kept on furlough, to get paid or unpaid leave, to continue to work from home, or to change your hours so you don’t have to use public transport at busy times. There’s more useful information about returning to work on the ACAS website.

If you’re worried about money because you can’t work, the MyGov.scot website has more advice.

Someone else in my home is shielding, do I have to return to work?

If you have any concerns about returning to work, talk to your employer about it. You may be able to arrange to be kept on furlough, to get paid or unpaid leave, to continue to work from home, or to change your hours so you don’t have to use public transport at busy times. There’s more useful information about returning to work on the ACAS website.

I’m pregnant, should I go back to work?

If you’re pregnant and you can work from home, you should do so. If you can’t work from home, talk to your line manager or HR team about how you can modify what you do so you can minimise the amount of people you come into contact with. If you work in a public-facing role, your employer should carry out a risk assessment and you should only carry on working if the risk assessment supports this. 

If you’re in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks’ pregnant), or have an underlying health condition (such as heart or lung disease) you should work from home where possible, avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, and try to socialise with as few people as possible.

The ACAS website has more information on your rights at work when you’re pregnant.