'My boss made me come to work and I caught Covid'

A worker wearing a mask
Jane works as an administrator for a private health care company in Oxfordshire, a task she is expected to be doing in the office even when locked.
However, since she caught Covid-19 at work before Christmas, she chose to work from home because she feels more secure - something that is causing trouble for her boss.
"The office is so small and it's impossible to distance yourself socially," she tells the BBC.
"My boss also didn't follow the guidelines when I got sick and no one was asked to isolate themselves. It was so irresponsible."
Jane argues that her work, which is computer and phone based, can easily be done from home. She feels like she is just following government guidelines.
Concerns about bosses violating Covid's safety rules
Can my boss make me go to work?
Plumbing company so workers can get vaccinations
However, she says her boss wants her to come back and she can't hold out much longer: "I have to pay a mortgage, I can't risk losing my home."
Under the current lockdown restrictions, people across the UK who can effectively work from home should also do the same in areas such as healthcare.
Construction workers in masks
However, there are concerns that the bosses are violating Covid's safety rules and the boss of the UK unions is calling for stricter enforcement.
Between January 6 and January 14, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received 3,934 coronavirus-related complaints and took enforcement action in 81 cases.
However, this usually meant an oral or written warning with only one company facing tougher action.
Police work can also be a problem as some workers fear retaliation if they speak up.
George says he works in the office of a construction company where social distancing rules are "ignored or undermined". He's torn whether to complain.
Worker has the temperature checked
He and 10 close colleagues were able to do their jobs from home with ease - and they did so during the initial lockdown - but this time it's not an option despite half of them being over 60 and two people in the high risk category .
"I received a template letter that said we couldn't work from home even though we had made it so easy every six months before," he told the BBC.
"There is only one way to report this internally and this clearly indicates to you redundancy."
He says the situation is forcing you to "consider having a job in the pandemic or standing up for what you think is right".
What are the rules for work?
Under the current lockdown restrictions, people across the UK who can effectively work from home should do so. They should only travel to work if they cannot do their work remotely.
These include health professionals, teachers, child carers, transport workers, those working in construction or manufacturing, funeral directors, and key retail workers.
For jobs that remain open in England, employers are required to "conduct an adequate Covid-19 risk assessment" in order to develop a "specific" strategy to contain the spread of the virus.
In England the guidelines lay down strict measures that employers must adhere to, e.g. These include, for example, minimizing the number of unnecessary visits to the office, frequent cleaning of the work areas and ensuring that employees maintain a social distance of 2 m whenever possible.
There are similar guidelines for employers in a number of sectors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Read more from our Explainers team here.
The HSE, which has carried out 33,000 on-site visits since March, informed the BBC that it had "expanded" its checks on employers.
The Union Congress (TUC) wants the government to step up enforcement and give the HSE more resources.
Some say nothing will change unless the government changes the rules to ensure that only people who do essential work enter.
John (not his real name) from Gloucester is part of a team that installs smart meters in people's homes for SSE, Ovo's energy company.
Construction workers with checked temperatures
He tells the BBC that he doesn't feel safe at work, which is why he has to go to five or six houses every day, usually for several hours.
And while he accepts that his work cannot be done from home, he believes that utilities should only do essential emergency work like the initial lockdown, not install smart meters, which are mostly about improving energy efficiency .
"We all know the fastest way to spread a virus is through contact," he tells the BBC, adding that employees like him should be on vacation.
"They gave us face covers and gloves, but the NHS staff wear good quality PPE and still die."
An SSE spokeswoman said the safety and wellbeing of employees were her "primary focus" and the company was open to discussing vacation options with employees.
"We have strict protocols for working at home, including the ability for the engineer or client to cancel an appointment or quit a job if they are not comfortable," she said.
'Makes no sense'
Steve, who has worked at a fulfillment warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent for the past three months, is shocked at the site's disregard for coronavirus rules.
He said social distancing was "non-existent" and people worked "side by side" but when he complained the managers did nothing.
"They were more interested in getting the product out," he adds.
However, he felt he had no choice but to keep working, even after learning that someone had met Covid in the camp canteen.
A government spokesman said he had worked with unions, corporations and medical experts to create "comprehensive Covid-Safe guidelines" so that companies allowed to stay open can do so safely: "This will be as we understand the virus to evolve. "
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