Employees concerned about Delta variant return to office. Can you choose to stay at home?

Unrest among employees is increasing now that the Delta variant of the corona virus is spreading in the Netherlands, the unions notice. “Many office workers are very careful,” said Piet Fortuin, chairman of the trade union CNV in the AD.

At the end of June, the homework advice was adjusted. Employees have since been allowed to work in the office for a maximum of half of their working time, provided that they can keep a distance of 1.5 meters. But due to the increasing number of infections, the concern among the staff is increasing. “In a short space of time, we’ve gone from optimism about returning to the office to growing concerns about how safe it is in the office,” said Fortuin.

Also read: Amazon’s 1997 shareholder letter is a free MBA lesson on leadership — these are 4 tips from former CEO Jeff Bezos.

‘People are now much more concerned with hygiene’

According to the chairman, most companies seem to do their best to ensure a corona-proof office. Yet in a recent union survey of about 900 (former) home workers, one in five employees said they did not yet feel safe in the office. 16 percent think that the offices are open too early to work safely. They are annoyed, among other things, by employers and colleagues who no longer take the corona rules into account.

Fortuin thinks this mainly applies to smaller companies, partly because employees have become much more aware of the risks and look more critically at safety and hygiene measures. “A keyboard or mouse used to be not exactly clean, but people are now much more concerned with hygiene,” said the CNV chairman. Fortuin emphasizes that extra measures cannot be enforced. “Employees can demand that there are sufficient disinfectants with which they can clean the devices themselves. But no, they cannot demand that the employer clean the place ten times a day.”

Also read: Unemployment decreases again due to the reopening of the economy: 9.1 million people have work in the Netherlands.

The FNV trade union also sees the concern among staff growing. Employees are concerned, among other things, about the crowds in public transport and how they can get to the office safely, Vice-President Kitty Jong said in the AD.

Jong emphasizes that concerns are growing especially among healthcare staff and staff in other sectors where keeping a distance is sometimes difficult. “There is a lot of attention for office employees, but they have the choice to work from home in close consultation with the employer. There are many workers who do not have that choice. Think of all the people who work in factories, slaughterhouses, the food industry or in healthcare.”

Also read: 77-year-old actor who played player 001 in ‘Squid Game’ is inundated with offers but has no manager.

Can you refuse to come to the office?

Corporate law and employment law attorney Sander Schouten, of AMS Advocaten, also endorses the importance of consultation between employer and employee. Business Insider spoke to Schouten last year about whether you can be forced to come to the office as an employee.“You can’t say: I don’t feel comfortable with this,” says Schouten. As long as your employer ensures that the guidelines of the RIVM can be complied with, you must therefore appear at work if you are asked to do so.

Of course, the question is whether such a strict requirement is always sensible. An employer must also consider the feelings of employees. After all, there is a chance that people will call in sick if they do not feel safe, even if they are actually fit for work.

Also read: These Rotterdam twins came up with a recruitment tool that selects candidates for a job through games.

In the office it is therefore better to determine in consultation how everyone can do their job best.

“Some employers offer employees to take vacation days or unpaid leave if they are not sick, but still do not want to work. This may be because they do not feel completely safe despite a safe working environment. I think such a solution is a nice gesture,” says Schouten, who emphasizes once again that you can’t just sit at home because you think it’s necessary. “This is not a license to sit and do nothing.”

Author: Jobly