My partner is a dedicated and conscientious orthopaedic surgeon of more than 20 years. His underlying health conditions mean that he is at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) and therefore vulnerable.
Despite his employer being aware of his vulnerable status, my partner was told by his line manager on a Sunday afternoon to report for duty as normal the following morning. If he had done so he would have put himself at a very high risk of death. A number of his colleagues have subsequently tested positive for the virus and sadly two of his colleagues have now died.
My partner faces life and death situations every day. He spends his life fixing people in a life changing way, working under enormous pressure. I have never seen him as distressed as he was that Sunday afternoon. We will always be grateful that we had access to Nick Hobden, of Head of Employment at Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP in Kent.
Nick gave us immediate, clear and brilliant employment law advice, about protecting an employee from detrimental treatment or dismissal where their employer insists that they come into their normal workplace to work. He pointed out that an employee can reasonably resist an employer’s direction to return to the workplace if the employee reasonably believes that dangerous workplace conditions exist, which are serious and imminent.
As a result of Nick’s advice, my partner successfully insisted that he should not be compelled to come in to work, but be able to continue to work from home, so that he is still able to make a difference to people’s lives without putting his own life in danger.
I would not hesitate to recommend Nick to anyone who finds themselves in a highly stressful situation where the right timely employment law advice can literally make a difference between life and death. Heartfelt thanks Nick from both of us.