health and safety detriments – workers now offered protection
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 (SI 2021/618) came into force on 31 May 2021.
Previously section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 only gave protection to employees from being subjected to a detriment. However, following the High Court’s declaration in R (on the application of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and anor, that limiting the protection to employees was a breach of the EU Health and Safety Framework Directive, the Government sought to amend section 44 extending the protection to workers.
From 31 May 2021, workers have the right not to be subject to a detriment (i.e., treatment which leaves that individual worse off) if they refuse to go to work or do a task if they reasonably believe being at work or doing a certain task would put them in serious and imminent danger.
Acas have also updated their guidance following this change to law. You can access it here: If staff are worried about going to work: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Acas
This update was written by Joanne Sinclair, Trainee, didlaw.