Health & Safety protections extended to include workers

Morton Fraser Partner Innes Clark
Innes Clark
23 March 2021

New legislation extends protections previously only provided to employees

In November last year the High Court in England handed down a judgment in a Judicial Review application confirming the UK had failed to properly transpose aspects of two EU directives into domestic law.  While the EU Health and Safety Framework Directive provided protection from detriment for leaving the workplace in the event of serious, imminent or unavoidable danger to workers, the UK implementing legislation under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 applied only to employees.  The Court held that limiting the protection to employees was a breach of the Directive.

In consequence of this judgment, Regulations have been introduced that will extend the protection from detriment for leaving or refusing to return to the workplace in circumstances of serious and imminent danger to workers.  The Regulations are due to come into force on 31 May 2021, and will apply to any detriments taking place on or after that date.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase in claims of this sort being made by employees.  With the extension of the protection to workers, we can expect to see that number increase further later in 2021.   


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