Staff wary of Covid can't use it as reason to stay away from the office, employment tribunal rules.
Staff cannot use a fear of catching Covid as a reason not to go back to the office, an employment tribunal has ruled.
An tribunal ruled fear of Covid can't be used as reason not to return to the office.
It comes after a woman accused her employer of discrimination for refusing to pay her after she declined to return to work in July last year.
A tribunal held in Manchester this month heard that the claimant refused to return to her workplace in July 2020 because she had a “genuine fear” of contracting coronavirus and passing it on to her partner, who was at high risk of becoming seriously unwell.
This is because worries of getting infected with the virus and spreading it are not a legally protected philosophical belief.
In his ruling, the judge said he accepted that the woman had a genuine fear, but he did not believe it met the criteria for a philosophical belief which would be protected under Section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.
Asked what her belief was, she told the tribunal: “A fear of catching Covid-19 and a need to protect myself and others.”
A stay-at-home order was first introduced in March last year and many switched to working from their houses unless it was impossible to do so.
After the first lockdown was lifted, many employers encouraged staff back to the office in the summer.
In a statement to the tribunal, the woman said she had 'reasonable and justifiable health and safety concerns about the workplace surrounding Covid-19' and the risk posed to her was 'serious and imminent'
The Government this month reinstated the advice to work from home where possible.