Any return to work must be safe

Yesterday (Sunday 10 May) the Prime Minister announced what appear to be slight changes to the advice about work during the Coronavirus emergency. This is what he said on going to work:

We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.

And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.

Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister, Sunday 10 May 2020

We believe that, if you set aside the rhetoric in the media, this isn’t much different from the previous advice that if you can work from home you should work from home. If you cannot work from home, and it is safe to do so, you should go to work (unless you are otherwise unable to, for example due to illness, childcare, etc.).

Our General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“The return to work must be safe. There must be no cutting corners, no playing fast and loose with employees’ safety. The economy is important, but lives are too.

“If safety isn’t paramount, then infections will increase and there’ll be a second wave that risks overwhelming the NHS and social care.

“Many health, care and other key workers use trains, buses and tubes to get to work. Their safety must not be compromised by crowded public transport.

“The government must also ensure the NHS and the care sector have guaranteed supplies of protective equipment and there’s a comprehensive test, track and trace programme in place before any mass return to work.”

We will be updating the information and advice on the branch website later today (Monday), but if you feel you are being asked o attend work in an unsafe workplace or where your employer isn’t doing enough to protect you from catching or spreading Coronavirus then you should contact us now using our online contact form.