The STUC today issued a stark warning to employers as it was inundated with complaints from workers about companies keeping open for non-essential work and pressuring employees to present for work even while business was suspended.
It warned employers that they could find themselves in implied breach of contract and face future constructive dismissal claims if judged to be endangering workers. With Government advice making clear that only essential work should continue, the burden of proof would be on the employer to prove they had acted reasonably.
The STUC also said that employers have a statutory duty to risk assess for COVID-19, as it is a ‘substance hazardous to health’, and to put in place a safe system of work.
STUC General Secretary Designate, Rozanne Foyer said:
“While many employers have acted swiftly and correctly too many have not. This has caused general confusion and real alarm. Union offices across Scotland have been inundated with calls from members. Meanwhile the STUC is fielding questions by the minute from worried workers.
“Our advice to workers is clear, contact your union for support, join a union and in the meantime contact the STUC for advice. Speak to other workers and make a joint demand of the employer to present clear justification of a decision to compel you to work.
“Contact your health and safety rep if available or otherwise insist on seeing the full risk assessment your employer is obliged to undertake.”
For more information, please contact Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, on 07891026870.