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Dealing with employees’ health and safety concerns

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As more and more of you are making efforts to return to ‘normal’, you’ll be taking steps to keep your employees and customers safe. Unfortunately for some employees, these may not seem like enough.

Employees could raise their concerns with you directly, or even refuse to come to work when asked. This can be a challenge, as employees may have statutory protection if they do one of the following:

  1. raise health and safety concerns
  2. raise concerns that you’re not complying with any legal obligation that’s in the public’s interest
  3. carry out the duties of a health and safety representative
  4. walk out of their workplace to avoid serious and imminent danger to health and safety

Employment law risks 

Any employee who suffers a ‘detriment’ as a result of the above can bring an Employment Tribunal claim for loss of earnings and/or injury to feelings with uncapped compensation being available to them.

Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid a claim for unlimited compensation when managing challenges around health and safety.

  1. Investigate thoroughly – you need to establish whether the concerns raised by the employee are genuine. The outcome of that investigation will determine whether you’re entitled to discipline etc. or whether you need to act upon the concerns raised.
  2. Designate an individual to raise concerns with – showing you take concerns seriously and have the appropriate reporting mechanisms in order to address issues early to avoid them spiralling out of control.
  3. Respond in writing to any concerns raised – this will ensure you have an adequate audit / evidence trail should you need to justify your actions.
  4. A ‘safe return to work’ policy – clearly communicating the steps you’re taking to keep colleagues and customers safe, what you expect of your employees and what to do if they have any concerns. Click here to access our policy.

Click here to access our Post-furlough Guidance Note.

This update is accurate on the date it was produced (30 April 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.