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Workers Offered Protection For Health And Safety Detriment

on Friday, 19 March 2021.

An Order extending the protection from health and safety detriment to workers is awaiting parliamentary approval and is due to come into force on 31 May 2021.

Until now, only employees have been able to access the protection offered by Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act. Section 44 currently provides that employees cannot be subjected to detriment for:

  • raising health and safety concerns
  • leaving or refusing to return to an unsafe workplace
  • taking appropriate steps to protect themselves in circumstances where they reasonably believe they are in imminent or serious danger

From 31 May, this protection will be extended to the wider category of 'worker'. Workers are defined as those who have entered into:

  • a contract of employment
  • any other contract to perform work personally which is not a contract between a customer and a client

Tips For Employers

Employers should ensure that:

  • any relevant policies are updated
  • managers are aware that extra thought will be required when responding to health and safety concerns raised by workers, or situations where workers refuse to attend work because of health and safety concerns

The protection afforded by Section 44 has been brought to the fore during the pandemic and is likely to continue to be highly relevant in the context of providing COVID secure workplaces generally.

Coronavirus guidance employers

For legal support with this extension of protection, please contact Michael Halsey in our Employment Law team on 07554 432 829, or complete the form below.

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