An employment law specialist has offered advice to help businesses avoid potential legal wrangles as they bring staff back to work.

Anna Lovett, an Associate in the employment team at Burnetts Solicitors, which has offices in Carlisle and Penrith, said it was important for employers to remember employees had the right not to be dismissed, or treated detrimentally, for refusing to return to work when it was dangerous.

It was important businesses understood and assessed the potential risks at their workplace, took measures to reduce them and consulted with their staff.

She said employees classed as extremely vulnerable should not be made to return to work.

"Insisting on a return to work may lead to claims under the health and safety legislation," she said.

"Minimise your risk and make the most of the furlough scheme and statutory sick pay for shielding employees."

If people were classed as clinically vulnerable but had not been advised to shield, then employers should do a risk assessment and take advice from medical experts.

"Make the most of the furlough scheme and consider unpaid leave before insisting on a return to work or disciplinary action," she said.

If employees said they did not want to return to work because they believed they would be in danger, despite being well and in neither of the first two categories, disciplinary action may be possible. However, for this to happen it was important employers had followed Government safety guidance.