Health and safety detriment protection extended to workers


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The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 came into force on 31 May.

The Order amends section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996). This now protects both employees and workers from being subjected to a detriment by their employer when they are absent, or propose to be absent, from work due to a reasonable belief that attendance at work would put them in serious and imminent danger. It also protects them from detriment due to taking, or proposing to take, appropriate steps to protect themselves or others in the reasonable belief that there is serious or imminent danger.

The Order was drawn up following the High Court's decision in R (Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and anor that the UK had failed to properly implement the EU Health and Safety Framework Directive by limiting protection from detriment on health and safety grounds under section 44 of the ERA 1996 to employees, and excluding workers from protection.

Protection under the amended ERA 1996 only applies to detriment experienced by workers after 31 May 2021.

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