I recently met Scope, the disability charity, which expressed concerns to me about a number of disabled people being compelled to return to work from furlough. We know, for example, that just 8.5% of people in the clinically extremely vulnerable category have received both doses of the vaccine, and the Government’s own figures show that 14% of disabled workers are employed in the wholesale and retail trade.
The petition has been presented to me, and it asks that the Government amend the coronavirus job retention scheme so that any disabled worker who is concerned about returning to work during the pandemic has the right to be put on furlough if they cannot work from home. The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider ensuring that people with disabilities can make the decision on whether to return to work or remain on furlough. The onus should be on employees to decide, not the employer.
The petition states:
The petition of residents of the constituency of Glasgow East,
Declares that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge changes to the working patterns of many people across the UK, with the furlough scheme helping to support many businesses; further that restrictions across the UK are beginning to ease, with more businesses opening their doors, meaning that many people are returning to work; further that, despite the necessary safety precautions, some people with disabilities do not feel comfortable returning to work as of yet, and would rather wait until infection rates and COVID-19 cases have fallen further; further that the UK Government should ensure that nobody, particularly a person with a disability or health concern, is forced to return to work; further that the Government should commit to ensuring that the onus is on the employee to make the decision over their return to work, not the employer; further that if an employee wishes to stay on the furlough scheme they should be able to make this decision without repercussion and fear of losing their employment.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to consider ensuring that people with disabilities are able to make the decision on whether to return to work or whether to remain on furlough and that this should be the employee’s decision, not the employer’s.
And the petitioners remain, etc.