(Ref L1Ai rev)
Guidance on using the letter template
This letter template is for you to send to your employer if your job can’t be done from home, your employer wants you to attend work, but you have medical issues and so want to self isolate from coronavirus by staying at home.
We raise some legal matters relating to your condition. In particular we focus on your right to stay at home in the circumstances, which is in keeping with the health and safety protections offered to employees in section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which we quote in the letter.
We recommend you ask to be placed on ‘furlough leave’ under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is a temporary scheme providing for 80% of your salary up to £2,500 a month and is the solution proposed in the letter.
You should insert the information that relates to your individual circumstances where indicated in the square brackets (remember to delete the instruction and the brackets before sending the letter). If you add any more detail, remember to keep it short, factual and to the point – your goal is to keep communications with your employer amicable, assuming you would like to keep your job.
You can find more information in our website article about your employment rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Ref L1Ai rev)
[Employer name and address]
Dear [Recipient’s full name]
I am writing regarding your reluctance to let me stay at home.
Due to underlying medical conditions I am at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) and as such must be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. Staying at home enables me to do this.
[Insert the following if appropriate: As the medical condition is long term, it amounts to a disability and the company has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments. Staying at home would be such an adjustment.]
Furthermore, according to the government rules, it is only permissible to travel for work which is strictly necessary, and I do not believe that my work is strictly necessary.
Also, my right to stay at home in the circumstances is consistent with s.44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 subsections 1(d) & (e) on health and safety, which state:
(d) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work, or
(e) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.
As my work cannot be done from home, I propose that you put me on the government’s furlough leave scheme, also known as the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. This is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers ‘whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).’
There is no doubt that your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, therefore the scheme is for you. Furthermore, there is nothing in the scheme which suggests that it only exists to prevent redundancies. In fact, the scheme states:
“Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this. Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.”
Under this scheme the government will reimburse you 80% of my salary up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You can apply through the HMRC website.
[Insert the following only if you agree with it: I am happy to receive only 80% of my salary, so it will not cost you anything]
I appreciate we are going through unprecedented times, but I think the government scheme provides a solution. I would be grateful if you could reconsider your position and allow me to stay at home on furlough leave for my safety and the safety of others.
[Your full name]