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    Protection from detriment in health and safety cases extended to workers

    Senior Associate in the Employment team, Fiona Mendel, gives her expert advice in Personnel Today.

    Workers who refuse to go to work because of health and safety fears will be protected from detrimental treatment from their employers under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021, which comes into force on 31 May 2021.

    Discussing the new legislation, Fiona Mendel said, “The new legislation will undoubtedly address the loophole for workers who refuse to attend the workplace due to concerns over their health or safety by providing added protections should they suffer a detriment by refusing to return. Whilst the legislation does not give workers a blanket right to refuse to return to work, should they possess a ‘reasonable belief’ that they (or others) would be in danger, the onus would rest on the employer to show it took steps to mitigate against the risk of this threat.”

    Fiona went on to comment that “Employers will therefore need to act quickly to ensure that any requests to return to the physical workplace are reasonable and that adequate safeguards have been put in place to reduce the risk of infection. Risk assessments must be undertaken as a minimum and staff should be consulted with as to the outcome of those assessments and what steps they intend to take, highlighting compliance with the latest Government guidance and other industry specific measures to make the workplace safe. Staff should be encouraged to discuss any hesitancies, taking into account their personal circumstances. This will make it harder for workers and employees to claim their fears in returning to the workplace, to be reasonable.”

    To view the full article online in Personnel today, please click here.

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