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Health & Safety Detriments - extension to workers

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New Regulations, The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 extend protection for health & safety detriments to workers (not just employees).

In plain English: an employee can claim in a tribunal if subjected to a detriment because (in simple terms) they reasonably believed that being at work would place them (or someone else, such as a household member) in serious, imminent danger. This right is found in s44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which was rarely used before last year but is now being used frequently by employees who are anxious about travelling to, or being in, work during the coronavirus pandemic.

These new Regulations extend the protection so that it now covers ‘workers’, rather than just ‘employees’. This is being done as a result of the decision in R (on the application of the IGWU) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, where it was held that confining such protection to employees was a breach of the EU Health & Safety Framework Directive.

The extension to workers applies to any detriments taking place on or after 31 May 2021.