London, UK, Jan 17, 2021 -- A system where workers can report employers who are forcing them into work during the pandemic should be considered, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary has said.
Jonathan Reynolds said he supported the idea of a helpline to allow workers to raise concerns about bosses who are pressuring them into work. He told Times Radio on Sunday that there should be "a way of people being able to raise [concern] – not just for their own safety, though clearly that should be paramount."
More than one in nine workers have said they were ordered back to their workplace when they could have worked from home, according to a survey carried out for the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Return to work after Covid
Of 1,172 workers surveyed, four in 10 said they had worked within 10 days of a positive coronavirus test result.
In addition, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors were contacted 2,945 times between 6 and 14 January about safety issues in workplaces. The HSE said it had carried out more than 32,000 site visits during the pandemic.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "If the government is upping enforcement, ministers should start with employers who break Covid safety rules."
She also called for an increase in resources for the HSE "to stop rogue employers getting away with putting staff at risk. Every employer needs to know an inspection could happen any time."
Call to work from home
A government spokesperson said: "The law is clear that people can only leave the home to work if they cannot reasonably work from home.
"We have worked with trade unions, businesses and medical experts to produce comprehensive Covid-secure guidance so that businesses permitted to remain open can do so in a way that is as safe as possible for workers and customers. This is kept under review as our understanding of the virus develops."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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