Lord Falconer, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, has today (Monday 11th) written to the Attorney General seeking for the legal framework following the Prime Minister’s statement last night.
The Prime Minister’s statement said “that anyone who can’t work from home…should actively be encouraged to go to work.” However, the Health Protection Regulations that have been in place to respond to the coronavirus crisis have not been updated to reflect leaving confusion over the safety of those who are asked to return to work. Lord Falconer has asked the following legal guidance of the Attorney General:
- “Is it proposed to change this provision, or is the position that the PM’s encouragement of people who cannot work at home to now return to work is already permitted by the existing [regulation]?”
- “Do you envisage it is for individual employees to make their own decisions about whether their workplace is safe?”
- “If an employee reasonably believes there is inadequate safety measures at his or her place of work to combat the virus, section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 permits the individual employee not to return to work, without the risk of detriment?”
Without clear legal guidance, Lord Falconer has warned that there will be “uncertainty, chaos and inconsistency” for those returning to work.