Government must crack down on non-essential companies making staff attend work, says TUC

The TUC has today (Wednesday) called on government to intervene to stop companies forcing those in non-essential services to go work.

There have been widespread reports of companies insisting that staff come to work despite the government’s instruction that no one should leave home unless absolutely necessary.

The TUC is calling on the government

  • To provide more specific guidance on what jobs fall into the essential services category.
  • To explicitly tell employers that their staff shouldn’t be travelling to work if their job is non-essential.
  • To clarify that workers who don’t attend work in a non-essential role cannot face disciplinary action or dismissal for this reason. It’s essential that employers use the government’s Job Retention Scheme to continue paying their workers.
  • To directly intervene if companies continue to operate against official instructions.

This is a necessary step to protect workers in the NHS and other key services, and to control the spread of coronavirus, according to the union federation.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Companies like Sports Direct shouldn’t be putting their profits before people’s lives. No one in non-essential services should be forced to go to work. And no one should be sacked for following official instructions and staying home.

“To end any confusion, government should provide specific instruction on what jobs fall into the essential services category.

“And if companies continue to flout the rules, they shouldn’t just be held accountable in the court of public opinion. Government must intervene to make them close their doors.”

The TUC is also calling on government and employers to ensure that workers in essential services have the personal protective equipment they need. Employers should also do all they can to allow social distancing, including where possible:

  • Staggering arrival and departure times to reduce crowding on public transport.
  • Rearranging work stations to ensure people can stay two metres apart.
  • Splitting shifts so that fewer people are attending work at any one time.

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