CORONAVIRUS ALL MEMBERS: Employer and employee legal responsibilities

This legal briefing from Thompson solicitors sets out the statutory duties on employers and employees and includes some frequently asked questions. The key duties are as follows:

Employers have a duty to:

  • Assess the risks at work of COVID-19, in consultation with TU health & safety reps;
  • Implement “reasonably practicable” preventive measures to eliminate or reduce the risks identified;
  • Consider safe systems of work first and make use of PPE as a last resort. In practice the risk presented in the particular job or workplace must be balanced against the time, cost and difficulties involved of taking preventative measures;
  • Inform staff of the risks and preventative measures taken and;
  • Monitor and review the situation in consultation with employees and appropriate health and safety reps;
  • Not discriminate against individuals in the measures they put in place, and how these are communicated to employees, including making reasonable adjustments for disabled workers who are particularly vulnerable.

Employees have a duty to:

  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others;
  • Cooperate with any measures the employer has put in place to prevent the spread of the virus e.g. by following good hygiene rules or by staying away from work if advised to self-isolate;
  • Inform the employer in accordance with the sickness absence policy should they feel unwell.

The frequently asked questions cover rights and responsibilities relating to self-isolation, taking time off to care for children during the school closures, and concerns about catching coronovirus at work.

Thompsons will be updating this briefing and the FAQs as the situation develops.