Can staff refuse to adopt a new working pattern or attend a different venue proposed as part of risk mitigation measures/school closure response/redeployment of workforce?

We find ourselves in exceptional circumstances and, like our colleagues throughout the NHS, we are trying to support staff to stay well and at work. We also have a particular onus on us as a Public Health institute and Category 1 responder to ensure that we control and reduce the effects of such an emergency. 

To respond accordingly at the scale required, we are trying to adapt to new ways of working, and at pace. Any changes to ways of working, e.g. working pattern, work location, or role should be carried out in a reasonable manner, both in terms of the notice that is given and the extent and duration of the changes. Obviously, the current situation has meant that changes are being made at shorter notice than is typical.

Wherever possible we are seeking to make these changes on a voluntary basis. If an individual has any difficulty with proposed arrangements, e.g. moving to a new working pattern or changed role, then it is really helpful to understand the reasons why they are unable to comply or would have particular difficulty in complying, and these will be taken into account on a case by case basis. We would encourage managers and individuals to discuss in the first instance and to seek advice tailored to their specific circumstances by emailing the People and OD team at