Our Partnership is made up of organisations working closely together to plan services and address the challenges facing health and care services across the area.
In this section you will find links to useful information and publications about our partnership.
We are committed to meaningful conversations with people, on the right issues at the right time. We believe this is an important part of the way we work.
Engagement gives people an opportunity to have their say on services. By gathering people's views, it helps us understand what matters to people.
In this section you will find all Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to our Partnership. You can also ask a question of your own.
The government’s advice is that businesses and workplaces should make every possible effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government.
If your employer is asking you to come into work because you cannot work from home, it is important to point out that your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety. One key way your employer can show that they are protecting your health and safety is by following the government guidance on working safely during coronavirus. This guidance is specific to each sector, and is available here.
If you are afraid of catching coronavirus, your employer may agree to let you take some leave so that you do not have to come into work. Your employer may be willing to agree for you to take annual leave, unpaid leave, unpaid parental leave, a sabbatical or other period of leave. You would need to check how long the leave could last and if the leave would be paid or unpaid.
Yes, your employer can dismiss you if you are not coming into work. Remember, you should always tell your employer in writing if you are planning not to come into work and explain why. Otherwise, it can be treated as an unauthorised absence, and your employer may discipline you.
It is better to try to resolve issues with your employer informally, at an early stage. Explain in as much detail as you can why you do not feel safe coming into work, and what steps you think should be taken to make your workplace safer. You should tell your employer if your particular circumstances make it especially risky for you to be in work (for example, if you live with someone who is shielding, or you yourself are vulnerable to coronavirus).
However, if you refused to come to work because you reasonably believed there was a serious and imminent danger to yourself or others and it could not be controlled, and your employer dismissed you for this reason, then you may have a claim for automatic unfair dismissal (section 100 Employment Rights Act 1996). This means that you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer. There is more information on bringing a claim at the Employment Tribunal on the Working Families advice pages.
The government says that people should stay at home and work from home if they possibly can. As a carer, you have the statutory right to request flexible working. Check with your employer how they can support you with this.
As an employee, you also have a statutory right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off from work to see to an emergency or unforeseen matter involving your partner, child, parent, grandchild, or someone who relies on you for care. Also check your work policy on care leave. ACAS has further useful information on taking time off to look after someone else.
If you live with someone who is shielding and it is at all possible for you to work from home, then you should. The impact that working from home has on your employer’s business should not be taken into account when making the decision about whether or not you can work from home, as it would be for a normal flexible working request – the government has advised that anyone who can work from home should do so.
The government guidance updated on 4 April 2020 also makes it clear that employees can be furloughed if they are unable to work due to childcare commitments. It also mentions that you can be furloughed if you are shielding in line with public health guidance, or if you need to stay home with someone who is shielding.
If your employer refuses to put you on furlough
You could still have a right to be off work. You could attempt to say - as your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety and, if one of your ‘dependants’ (family members such as children who live with you and need you) has a pre-existing condition which would make them very vulnerable to coronavirus, it would be a breach of your employment contract (more specifically a breach of the mutual duty of trust and confidence) to force you to come to work. You could use this argument to attempt to negotiate paid leave, but we can’t guarantee that this would be successful. If your employer doesn’t agree to your request and you don’t attend work, they can treat this as unauthorised absence and could refuse to pay you or take disciplinary action against you. So instead, you may be able to take unpaid time off for dependants, parental leave, or annual leave.
If the person in your household that is shielding depends on you for their care and there is no one else to help for the time being, then you have the right to take time off for dependants.
Time off for dependants is unpaid unless it is a perk in your contract/employer’s policy or practice. This concerns not just children but other dependants too, such as a partner or parent. Time off for dependants usually lasts only a couple of days, it is aimed to allow you time to organise the care of your dependant. But your employer might extend this to last for the amount of time that your dependant has been told to shield by the NHS.
Unpaid parental leave
You can also take unpaid parental leave if the person you care for is under 18 years old. You can take four weeks per child per year. Your employer might be able to postpone this if the business would be particularly disrupted (whereas they cannot postpone time off for dependants). Strictly speaking, you need to give notice to take unpaid parental leave, but given the circumstances, your employer may let you take the leave even if you cannot give the required notice. Some employers offer paid parental leave; it’s worth checking your employment contract to see if that is an option. If your child is receiving DLA or PIP, you can take parental leave in blocks of one day (instead of one week).
If you can take special leave, that your employer has agreed specifically because of the coronavirus or as part as a more general kind of compassionate leave policy, then this could be a good option.
Your employer may also allow you to take some annual leave. Annual leave could also be useful if the person in your household that is shielding does not depend on you for their care. In that case, arguing for time off for dependants could be trickier.
If you are suddenly left without income, there may be certain benefits that you could claim. Check out this page on financial support for working families during the covid-19 crisis for more information.
No, if you do not want to send your child to school then you do not have to. The government has said that if you are able to care for your child at home, you should continue doing so. You do not have to send your child to school if you do not need, or want to.
If your child is in the ‘high risk’ group for coronavirus, you may have received a letter from the NHS to tell them that they need to be shielding. The instructions in this letter are very clear. They must stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks, except from you as their carer and healthcare workers continuing to provide medical care. There is more information on shielding on the government’s website.
If this is the case, then you should not continue sending your child to school and if you are an employee, you have a right to take time off work if there is nobody else to help with childcare.