Navigating the new normal

People Management: Lucy McLynn on what can an employer do if someone refuses to return to work?


All content on this page is correct as of June 2, 2020

Lucy McLynn, partner in our Employment team has spoken to People Management to give her opinion on how to approach the knotty issue of asking staff to come back to a workplace and the key employment law principles to consider.

The coronavirus lockdown has created an abundance of unforeseen and unprecedented workplace conundrums for UK employers. And there is another tough task looming: asking people to come back into the workplace, in light of prime minister Boris Johnson’s amended guidance, issued 11 May, that those who cannot work from home should return to work. 

While usually an employee refusing to attend work would be fair grounds for disciplinary and potentially dismissal, the pandemic has turned employment law gospel firmly on its head. 

Speaking to People Management, Lucy said that an understanding of why the employee doesn’t want to return needs to be obtained “first and foremost”. “Employers are just going to have to be systematic and really probe into employees’ individual circumstances and understand exactly why and what the reasons are so they can work around it”.

She adds that “sensible employers” will already have a sense of what their workforce feels about returning by “gauging opinions through surveys and factoring that into their planning for reopening the workplace”. 

Click here to read the full article and find out more.


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of June 2, 2020.

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