Which employees are allowed to travel to work during the period of "lockdown" to control the coronavirus outbreak?

On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister made an announcement instructing people to stay at home except for very limited purposes. The Government has published Full guidance on staying at home and away from others, which states that people can leave their homes for four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities;
  • one form of exercise a day;
  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

It goes on to say that "even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household."

Therefore, to comply with this guidance, employers should require employees to travel to and from work only if it is not possible for them to work from home and only if they can keep two metres apart from others. It does not appear to be the case that the type of work has to be essential.

However, the strong guidance is that employers should allow employees to work from home if at all possible, to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).