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New Regulations extend Health and Safety detriment protection to workers

As it currently stands, employees are protected from being unfairly treated or dismissed as a result of them raising issues where they reasonably believed that they (or someone else) are in serious, imminent danger in the workplace. This protection seeks to encourage employees to raise any relevant health and safety concerns without fear of being subjected to detrimental treatment.

This protection is provided under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which was rarely used prior to 2020 but has become more common due to the current pandemic.

The Government intends to amend section 44 to extend the protection to cover workers.

Currently workers do not have the same rights as employees to receive protection from complaining about unsafe working environments, but The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 will grant workers the same rights.

The Order follows the High Court’s decision in R (on the application of the IGWU) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in which it was held that limiting such protection to employees was a breach of the EU Health and Safety Framework Directive.

The Order is currently awaiting Parliamentary approval and is due to come into force on 31 May 2021.

If you have any queries in relation to health and safety claims or any other HR queries, please contact our employment team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.

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