Health and Safety concerns should be taken seriously

During the pandemic, employers that require their employees to work during lockdown have had to implement additional safety measures. But some have been ignoring the Government guidelines, as well as their staff’s legitimate concerns. Worse, some have sanctioned their employees for raising concerns in the workplace – dismissing them on claims that they haven’t met standard of conduct.

That’s what three delivery drivers working for a franchise store of Domino’s Pizza in, Wales, believe happened to them. All three employees posted comments to a private employee-only Facebook group. The comments raised concerns about their health and safety, and that of their colleagues. They worried that not enough dedicated PPE was being provided, that the policies for delivery drivers did not go far enough to sufficiently ensure their safety, and that the food preparation staff within the store found it impossible to keep two metres apart, in part because of the number of staff on each shift, and the footprint of the store.

Approximately a week later, each of them had their contracts of employment terminated. The reason for their dismissal was put down to vague ‘conduct’ reasons and was not expanded upon. In doing this, the employer opened themselves to liability for unfair dismissal under sections 100 and 103A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which protects employees raising legitimate concerns about their health and safety or that of their colleagues. Employers will need to alleviate these concerns and balance these with responsible measures, otherwise they will cause problems down the line. Unreasonable refusals of reasonable requests will not be welcomed by the tribunals.

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