Covid: Disabled Having Work Requests Refused

One in five disabled employees had their request to work from home, be furloughed or redeployed during the pandemic rejected, research has shown.

Scope found 22% of disabled staff were put in an “impossible position” of having to choose between keeping their job or staying safe.

It wants the government to give people on the clinically extremely vulnerable list the automatic right to furlough.

The government said it was the employer’s responsibility.

In a statement, the Treasury said: “Employers must ensure the safety of those with disabilities when considering working arrangements, including whether work can be completed remotely, and it is for employers to decide whether to make use of the furlough scheme.”

Katie Cheval, 30, from Kent, has mobility issues, a learning disability, chronic asthma and mental health problems.

She was initially put on furlough from her retail job, but when she returned to work she did not feel safe and decided to resign. She is now looking for a new job.

“In a shop with no window you’re right in the thick of it,” she said. “We were given gloves which were too small and an apron, but I can’t wear a mask due to my asthma and anxiety.”

Ms Cheval said her employer held a meeting about safety precautions such as only one person using the till per shift.

“That went out of the window pretty quickly,” she said. “I didn’t feel safe.”

James Taylor, the executive director of strategy at Scope, said the fact it was “down to employer discretion” meant there was currently “no guarantee” disabled people would have their jobs and health protected.

“Furlough is a vital safety net for disabled people who don’t feel safe in the workplace, but whose jobs cannot be done from home,”

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