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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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Welcome to the


To return to the workplace or not? That is the question… but as one of the lucky ones who’s worked mainly from home for almost two decades, it’s not a dilemma I face. If it was, would I be happy about coming out of furlough or lockdown for work, when I can’t yet get together with my daughter – also self-isolating as vulnerable - or camp overnight at a distant beautyspot? No I wouldn’t. But if I worked for a company whose existence relied upon my presence… one that was struggling because of lockdown limitations, which I might just be able to save, with a little courage and a resigned commitment to the daily commute…? What then? Save my job and potentially endanger my family, or stay put & let down my company…? It’s a toughie, isn’t it?

According to a new survey by online training provider The Skills Network, the majority of people are concerned about returning to work. The survey quotes 56%. I'm surprised it's not higher.

One respondent - a furloughed retail worker for a non-essential business with stores across the country, (KBB-related I wonder?) said: "I'm worried that the business I work for is rushing to reopen. We haven't heard much from management on whether PPE will be provided or if social distancing will be adhered to. On top of this, I'm reliant on public transport to get to and from work. I don't want to go back to a daily routine just yet and even more so when I'm not comfortable mixing with co-workers and customers if there isn't going to be the necessary PPE."

Apparently, people's biggest concerns were: mixing with co-workers (49%), communicating face-to-face (32%), going back to a set routine (30%), commuting (30%), dealing with office politics (13%) and having to look presentable (9%).

Do employees have to return to the workplace? Kathleen Heycock, employment law solicitor at Farrer & Co, says employees are not obliged to work in an unsafe environment and that if an employer hasn't complied with the obligation to protect employees' health & safety, there will come a point when telling people to attend work is unlawful and unreasonable. The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides employees with protection from being dismissed or treated to their detriment as a result of their refusal to return to the workplace.

Interesting times ahead, eh?


Jan Hobbs



25th May 2020

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