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Sexism and Bullying by Employer during COVID-19 Pandemic

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Sexism and Bullying by Employer during COVID-19 Pandemic

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 am a full time employed professional and my husband is a Surveyor. We have both been working home, in addition to providing home learning for our two children (in two different year groups). Our children’s school has not yet decided when to open for their year group. Both of us have informed our employers however, my husband’s employer has made several suggestions which surmounts to sexism and bullying. His employer has asked him to come into work, despite my husband informing him that we shall have no childcare. He has reminded his employer that the government has only suggested travelling to work if it is not possible to work from home. They can work from home and have been. My husband has informed his employer of his improved productivity (we have worked out a system which works for our family and insures that my children can learn, whilst allowing us both to fulfil our work responsibilities during working hours. The company he works for is a small  business and my husband’s employer has admitted finding it difficult to work from home himself and therefore wants things to return ‘to normal’ so that he (the employer) can leave his wife with their kids to resume work in the office.

Today was the final straw where his employer said ‘I pay you from 9 to 5, therefore if you have to stay at home due to childcare then I am paying for your childcare’. He has made several suggestions that the childcare should be left with me (despite me earning more than my husband). We have evidence of all the work my husband has undertaken including the office risk assessment which is the employer’s responsibility. We have evidence of several remarks of bullying etc. when my husband has expressed concerns of travelling via the London underground to work. All staff (except the employer) have been able to work home effectively from home.

 

My husband is at the point where he is become overly stressed with this situation. Please can someone advise us what our legal position is?

 

Thank you in advance.

Working hard to be money and people wise
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Replies

  • gary83gary83 Forumite
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    your husband has no legal right to insist that he continues to work from home. If his employer is insisting he comes into work then he can ask what steps have been taken to ensure a safe working environment. Has anything been done to make the building Covid secure? I.e. are the desks over 2 metres apart? One way systems around the office? Sanitiser and cleaning procedures being rigorously enforced?

    putting it bluntly, whilst you’d hope an employer would be a lot more empathetic, childcare issues are not their responsibility, if they insist on him coming into the office and can demonstrate that they’ve complied with health and safety guidance to make that environment as secure  as possible, then that’s what he’ll have to do.
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    There is a job to do and it is the employer's prerogative to choose how and where that job is done.  If an employee refuses, then the employee may not have a job to go back to.

    There are now employers recruiting for 'immediately availability' to fill the roles of people refusing to return to work following lock-down and once they are up to the strength required will set about dismissing those that did not want to go to work.
  • YBRYBR Forumite
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    What are the comments that you consider sexist - do they amount to "leave the kids with little wifey?"

  • alrightalright Forumite
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    @Garygary83 said:
    your husband has no legal right to insist that he continues to work from home. If his employer is insisting he comes into work then he can ask what steps have been taken to ensure a safe working environment. Has anything been done to make the building Covid secure? I.e. are the desks over 2 metres apart? One way systems around the office? Sanitiser and cleaning procedures being rigorously enforced?

    putting it bluntly, whilst you’d hope an employer would be a lot more empathetic, childcare issues are not their responsibility, if they insist on him coming into the office and can demonstrate that they’ve complied with health and safety guidance to make that environment as secure  as possible, then that’s what he’ll have to do.
    Hi Gary thank you for your reply. The employer wants my husband to come into work to move furniture around in order for the desks to be apart. So no, the employer has not ensured this and is trying to get the employees to sort this out. Deep cleaning and sanitisers are yet to be in place. 

    We have never had any childcare issues and cannot pay for a nanny (we would happily do so) as government advice is that we are unable to do this. They attend school however, their school has not yet opened for their year group. His employer has never complained about my husband's work, My husband has been able to carry all forms of his job including performing onsite inspections during this pandemic (travelling by car) however, he is unable to come into the office from 9 to 5 because our kids are not in school (this is not by choice, but as a result of the pandemic which forced their school's closure). 
    Working hard to be money and people wise
  • unholyangelunholyangel Forumite
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    Your husband would have the right to ask for time off (up to 4 weeks per year) to spend with your children, but it would be unpaid unless his contract of employment specifically states it is to be paid leave. 

    Separately there is also the right to time off for dependants, but that would only allow up to maybe a few days maximum as it is intended for you to deal with emergencies only (ie time off to make alternative care arrangements rather than time off to provide the care yourself)
    Money doesn't solve poverty.....it creates it.
  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    Ultimately you need to decide how important your husbands job is. The business has to function fully to survive. The disease is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. If he is unwilling to travel/engage constructively with the employer then perhaps time to look for alternative employment closer to home that fits in with your lifestyle. There's no easy answers to personal decisions. The business will carry on regardless. Everyone is dispensable. 
    “Markets have been so good for so long, that many investors are trivialising the advanatages of actively managing portfolio risk" - Gervais Williams
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    I find this quite amazing that "a full time employed professional and a Surveyor" couple had no idea that after some period of time both working at home and have found a way to manage child-care between them, it was an absolute shock and they had no plan for the concept that, at some point, one or other of them might need to go back to a regular 'out-of-the-home' type of employment.

    The market salary for a Surveyor is pretty generous and, the OP has told us, the "full time employed professional" earns more than the Surveyor.  So, their combined household income must be sufficient to support the costs of some childcare, or a Nanny (though the OP specifically states this is not affordable).  If not, there must be a lot of living beyond means and time to review the family budget.  

    Then, astonishment that the office at the Surveyor's p,ace of work did not magically re-organise itself to be COVID-19 compliant, but that requires someone to go and make it happen.  Quite possibly, also, the company may realise that there are compromises to be made somewhere here and involving the employees allows the best solution to come out and challenges to be understood.

    At every turn, the OP hides behind "government advice" as to why they cannot do something more self-supporting.
  • I thought this was meant to be a support forum. The sarcasm and criticism is uncalled for. 
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