What the law says

The relevant sections of legislation are pasted below. The law gives us the right to take “appropriate steps” to avoid “serious and imminent danger”, and to be protected from suffering any detriment, including loss of pay, for doing so. Clearly, an employer inclined to argue the toss could contend that their refusal to guarantee full pay to anyone self-isolating does not represent a “serious and imminent danger”, or that refusing to work until they do is not an “appropriate step”.

But the stronger your action, and the more workers involved in it, the flimsier their ability to make that argument will be. Given everything we know about the highly contagious nature of this virus, there is a clear case for arguing that forcing potential carriers to come to work, in direct defiance of public health advice, because they can’t afford to do otherwise is a “serious and imminent danger”.

For more info on the law and how it works, we recommend this briefing, from the RMT union: https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/serious-and-imminent-danger-bo…

And this website: https://section44.co.uk/

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regs), Reg 8:

Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas 8
(1) Every employer shall— (a) establish and where necessary give effect to appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to persons at work in his undertaking; 
(b) nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement those procedures in so far as they relate to the evacuation from premises of persons at work in his undertaking; and 
(c) ensure that none of his employees has access to any area occupied by him to which it is necessary to restrict access on grounds of health and safety unless the employee concerned has received adequate health and safety instruction.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1)
(a), the procedures referred to in that sub-paragraph shall— (a) so far as is practicable, require any persons at work who are exposed to serious and imminent danger to be informed of the nature of the hazard and of the steps taken or to be taken to protect them from it; 
(b) enable the persons concerned (if necessary by taking appropriate steps in the absence of guidance or instruction and in the light of their knowledge and the technical means at their disposal) to stop work and immediately proceed to a place of safety in the event of their being exposed to serious, imminent and unavoidable danger; and 
(c) save in exceptional cases for reasons duly substantiated (which cases and reasons shall be specified in those procedures), require the persons concerned to be prevented from resuming work in any situation where there is still a serious and imminent danger.

(3) A person shall be regarded as competent for the purposes of paragraph (1)
(b) where he has sufficient training and 5 experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him properly to implement the evacuation procedures referred to in that sub-paragraph.

Employment Right Act 1996, Section 44 (Health and Safety Cases)

An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that
(a) having been designated by the employer to carry out activities in connection with preventing or reducing risks to health and safety at work, the employee carried out (or proposed to carry out) any such activities,
(b) being a representative of workers on matters of health and safety at work or member of a safety committee
(i) in accordance with arrangements established under or by virtue of any enactment,
(ii) by reason of being acknowledged as such by the employer, the employee performed (or proposed to perform) any functions as such a representative or a member of such a committee,

(c) being an employee at a place where
i) there was no such representative or safety committee, or

(ii) there was such a representative or safety committee but it was not reasonably practicable for the employee to raise the matter by those means, he brought to his employer’s attention, by reasonable means, circumstances connected with his work which he reasonably believed were harmful or potentially harmful to health or safety,

(d) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work,
(e) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(e) whether steps which an employee took (or proposed to take) were appropriate is to be judged by reference to all the circumstances including, in particular, his knowledge and the facilities and advice available to him at the time.

(3) An employee is not to be regarded as having been subjected to any detriment on the ground specified in subsection (1)(e) if the employer shows that it was (or would have been) so negligent for the employee to take the steps which he took (or proposed to take) that a reasonable employer might have treated him as the employer did.(4) Except where an employee is dismissed in circumstances in which, by virtue of section 197, Part X does not apply to the dismissal, this section does not apply where the detriment in question amounts to dismissal (within the meaning of that Part)..

This advice was originally posted at https://www.workersliberty.org/covid-action

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