Can I be forced to network?

As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in the UK before full lockdown came into place, some employers put restrictions on their employees attending events to try to stop the spread of the virus.

When lockdowns and restrictions were in full swing, live, in-person business events either ground to a halt or moved online.

Now the restrictions are lifting, events are starting to return and, while many people are keen to get back to seeing their business contacts in person, some may be more apprehensive after more than a year of isolation.

We have been asked by concerned employees whether their employers can force them to attend business events which are taking place in person if they are concerned about their exposure to coronavirus.

You cannot be forced to attend a business event as such; particularly if you have raised genuine fears for your health and safety to your employer or in the event you have not yet been vaccinated.

In reality, however, most business events will undoubtedly operate within the government rules and therefore should be Covid-secure with social distancing, minimising risk to individuals.

It is important however to balance this carefully with your obligations as an employee and the need for all of us to help drive the economy forward.

As an employee you should adhere to all reasonable requests and instructions from your employer and in any event most employees are contractually obliged to undertake additional duties and responsibilities such as active networking for the proper and effective performance of their role.

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