Health and safety protection extended to workers
With England’s lockdown restriction having now been eased, we are all having to readjust our lives accordingly.
One hugely important part of this change, which came into effect from 19th July 2021, was that employees are no longer being told by the government to work from home.
The Prime Minister made it overtly clear that it would not be necessary to instruct employees to work from home as the Covid-19 controls were eased. This was in the hope that it would allow employers and businesses to start planning for a safe and effective gradual return to the workplace.
In addition the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, is also gradually being phased out and will officially end on the 30th September.
It is highly likely that many employees and workers will be anxious and concerned about returning to their workplace, especially after being isolated from the world for well over a year. Workers (i.e. those not deemed to be an employee) may be increasingly concerned, as traditionally employees have been afforded increased protections compared to workers.
Nevertheless, on the 31st May 2021, Health and Safety Protections were extended to workers, rather than being afforded to solely employees. This was a very positive step for workers.
Workers have now gained the right not to be subjected to detrimental treatment for leaving or refusing to return to work if they believe themselves to be in a ‘serious and imminent danger’. Before this date, the right under Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 only applied to employees.
This right is therefore being increasingly used by both employees and workers who are worried about travelling or being within the confines of their workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whether you are a worker or an employee, you should not be made to feel uncomfortable about your return to work following the pandemic. If you feel that you are being subjected to a detriment due to raising health and safety concerns regarding Covid-19, please contact our Employment team here at Fosters for an initial free consultation over the phone. Please contact us on 01603 620508.
This article was produced on the 4th August 2021 by our Employment team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.