The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 was laid before Parliament on 1 March 2021 and is due to come into force on 31 May 2021. If approved, it will extend the rights currently conferred under section 44(1)(d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 not to be subjected to a detriment in certain health and safety cases to workers.
Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 currently protects employees from being subjected to a detriment by their employer in specific health and safety cases, including in the following circumstances:
- Absence or proposed absence from work due to a reasonable belief that attendance at work would put them in serious and imminent danger and they could not have been reasonably expected to avert that danger (section 44(1)(d)).
- Taking or proposing to take appropriate steps to protect themselves or others in the reasonable belief that there is a serious and imminent danger (section 44(1)(e)).
This has been used much more frequently in the last year by employees who are worried about travelling to and from work, or being in work, during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 will extend the protection so that it covers ‘workers’ rather than just ‘employees’. This is being done because of the decision in R (Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another  which held that confining such protection to employees was a breach of the EU Health & Safety Framework Directive.
The proposed change will provide clarity to businesses and workers and will apply to any detriments taking place on or after 31 May 2021.
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If you have an employment law issue please contact one of our specialist employment law solicitors at LincsLaw on 01522 440512 or if you are unsure about your employment status and want more information, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/supreme-court-ruling-on-employment-status/
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
LincsLaw Employment Solicitors