Can those who are vulnerable, shielding, or living with someone who is vulnerable, refuse to attend work?

Last updated: 06 Aug 2020

The provisions about refusing to work in circumstances of serious and imminent danger will apply to workers who are in the vulnerable categories.

If a worker is at greater danger because of serious health concerns the employer should take all reasonable measures to protect their safety at work and any failure to do so may give rise to claims of unlawful detriment and/or automatically unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act.

The employer may also have additional duties to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act in these cases, for example by ensuring the employee has the ability to continue working from home, adjusting hours, or changing duties.

While the Government has ceased specific protection for the vulnerable groups, including the end of SSP, from 1 August, employers will still need to consider their obligations in terms of health and safety and equality.

This page is designed to give general information about members’ rights on returning to work. It does not cover all circumstances and should not be treated as a definitive answer. Members should contact Prospect either through the Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 or contact their union rep or full-time officer for specific advice.