TUC warns over Covid safety confusion

The TUC is warning of Covid confusion come 1st April due to guidance conflicting with employers’ duties over workplace safety.

Woman wearing face mask in a work setting with a laptop


The TUC has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warning that workers’ safety is being put at risk by confusion created by guidance announced by the Prime Minister on Covid-19 and workplace risk assessments.

The Prime Minister’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan, presented to parliament on 21st February, states that from 1st April, employers will no longer have to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments.

However, the TUC warns that this change conflicts with the statutory duty employers have to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work”.

The union body says that the regulation requires any risk to health to be incorporated in a risk assessment and says this must therefore include the ongoing risks working people face from contracting Covid-19, including subsequently developing long Covid.

Infection rates for Covid and hospitalisations and deaths have been rising steadily over the last week. Daily cases at the end of last week were up nearly 30,000 on the previous week. Hospitalisations with Covid were up by over 1.3K, although the numbers going into Intensive Care are still low. Deaths are up by four. Figures for hospitalisations and deaths include any person who went to hospital or died with Covid, even if Covid was not the main cause of hospitailsation or death. Research out last week suggested that even mild Covid could result in brain shrinkage and affect mental function.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Wherever you work, you have a right to be safe. And your employer has a responsibility to fully assess the risks you face and take appropriate action.

“But ministers are sowing dangerous confusion on Covid safety at work. Longstanding rules on workplace safety clearly indicate that employers should consider Covid risks, but the government has sent out a conflicting message. And this may leave working people facing risks that could and should be prevented.

“We want ministers to clear up this confusion by advising employers that they must still consider Covid-19 in workplace risk assessments. And we are advising workplace health and safety reps that they should continue to request specific information on Covid-19 when they are consulted on risk assessments.”

Meanwhile, the TUC is also warning that the Government’s plans on umbrella companies, some of whom are accused of exploiting temporary workers and denying them basic rights such as holiday pay, are not adequate. It is calling for a ban on the companies and says Government plans to regulate the sector may not apply to some independent contractors and that the inspectorate which is likely to enforce the plans does not have sufficient staff to do the job properly.

In other news, over 40 large UK businesses have formed a coalition to press the government to arrange jobs and accommodation for thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Businesses including Marks & Spencer, recruitment giants Robert Walters and FDM as well as jobs firm Impellam have created a consortium, co-ordinated by entrepreneur Emma Sinclair, to ensure Ukrainians secure visas, suitable accommodation and even language training. The coalition has told the government it has up to 10,000 jobs available for refugees from Ukraine. Morrisons said it has contacted the Home Office to offer its assistance while the Co-op said it would welcome applications for 3,300 vacancies. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asos and Greene King are among other businesses to have also offered assistance.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises