If an employee refuses to attend work due to Covid-related health and safety concerns, will a dismissal be automatically unfair? A recent Tribunal judgement has provided useful guidance.
Facts of the case
The employee refused to attend work due to Covid-related concerns, stating there was an imminent danger to his health and safety. He was dismissed and brought a claim for automatic unfair dismissal.
The Tribunal decided the dismissal was fair in the circumstances – the employee did not have a reasonable belief of serious danger in the workplace – simply that there was danger everywhere. Even if he did believe the danger was work-related that belief was unreasonable given the employer had put measures in place to reduce the risk of Covid transmission.
Here are a few takeaways:
Risk assessment – make sure yours is up to date to demonstrate you’re continually thinking about the risks employees face. There’s no expectation for you to eliminate risk entirely, but you do need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risks.
Clear policies – communicate the measures you’ve put in place and what’s expected of employees. Set out how employees can raise their concerns. Click here for how to access our safe return to work policy.
Communicate – ensure employees have access to your policies and procedures and communicate with regular reminders the steps you’re taking to keep everyone safe. Where employees do have concerns, listen proactively, keep a record, make adjustments where necessary, and reassure that you’re taking all necessary steps.
If you need support with some of the challenges arising from welcoming employees back to work, get in touch to access our ‘safe return to work’ policy or further advice.