Responding to offers of work 1, The employer is under a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of employees and others present in the workplace (including temporary staff for whom it is not the employer). 2, This means that the workplace must be safe in general terms and for you specifically. Your agency also has a general duty of care towards you when placing you in workplaces in relation to your safety. Before it offers you work, the law says that your agency must consider whether it will be safe for you to work at the proposed workplace. Coronavirus crisis: 3, You should therefore ask the agency the following questions. Is it satisfied that it is safe to offer you work at all in the current circumstances? Has the agency considered your own circumstances (your health, that of your family members or other relevant circumstances)? Is the agency satisfied that the proposed workplace is safe? What steps has it taken to ensure that it is? Has it asked for and examined the risk assessment undertaken by the employer at that school? Has it satisfied itself that the risk assessment is adequate on the following key matters in particular: social distancing – will this be maintained appropriately in class groups and at other times eg start & finish, circulation around the schools; cleaning provisions – are these adequate? PPE provision – will this be provided as necessary? 4, Is the agency satisfied that the workplace is safe for you personally? Has it informed the employer of your personal circumstances? Has it ensured that the employer has specifically assessed the risks to you and decided it is safe for you to work at the school? Will you be allowed (during paid time) to fully familiarise yourself with working arrangements before commencing work? Use our advice on vulnerability at work and let your agency know about anything that may make it difficult or impossible for you to work at that workplace – including your own health or that of family members, or other matters such as childcare difficulties or issues with travelling there. If you work via an umbrella company arrangement, it is legally your employer and you are legally its employee. This means that the umbrella company has responsibility as your employer for conducting a risk assessment and taking steps to protect your health and safety as an employee if you return to work. If you have any concerns after going into any workplace, find out the name of the NEU rep and speak to them in the first instance. If there is no NEU rep, contact your NEU district officers. Seeking support if you are threatened with being penalised The Government is advising all employers to engage with any legitimate concerns about returning to work. This applies just as much in moral terms to agencies – and certainly applies in legal terms to umbrella companies as legal employers. You should seek support from your NEU district officers if you are threatened with any penalty for saying that you are not available to work on health or other reasonable grounds or refusing to work in any workplace which you reasonably believe to be unsafe.