The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has catapulted the world into uncharted waters. Each of us in the UK, from individuals to businesses, is continuing to try our best and adjust to the new circumstances in which we find ourselves. We have isolated ourselves from our friends and family in order to protect ourselves and give our health service the best possible chance of fighting the virus and helping those that do contract it the best chance of making a recovery.
Although we as individuals have an obligation to adhere to the new coronavirus legislation (and up-to-date government advice) there are situations that remain out of our control. We can continue to travel to work where necessary and in that situation we are required to trust that our employer will take the necessary steps to ensure our safety. There are also particular positions where close contact with other individuals will remain necessary, for example care home workers, bus drivers and retail workers.
Although we appreciate that this is a difficult time for businesses, this does not mean that they can disregard the safety of their employees and put them at unnecessary risk.
Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that you have a safe environment in which to work. This means they should take all reasonable steps to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing. If your employer fails to do so they may be held liable for any injury or losses you sustain as a result of their negligence.
In the current climate, this includes protection from coronavirus and if you contract the disease as a result of your employer’s actions you may suffer pain and ill-health, as well as a loss of earnings or other losses.
If your employer does not take reasonable measures to protect you and other members of staff, and you sustain an injury, your employer may be held liable for you losses.
A few examples of situations that we would encourage you to seek legal advice should you contract COVID-19 include:-
- Where you can work from home, but your employer will not let you;
- Lack of PPE to ensure you can carry out your work safely;
- Where your employer does not take steps to ensure social distancing where possible, including providing an environment where you can remain at a distance of 2 meters from colleagues or customers
Where a situation like the above arises we recommend that you keep notes of your employer’s failure to maintain your safety, a note of when you began to experience symptoms and the severity of those symptoms. If your colleagues are also absent with COVID-19, remember their names. If you receive a formal diagnosis of COVID-19 ensure that this is recorded. Where appropriate, follow the government advice regarding contacting your GP and the NHS. Keep a record of your losses, including wages lost as a result of absence from work.
At Jackson Boyd we have extensive experience of pursuing injury at work claims. As above, these are unprecedented times, and that means that each of us needs to do all we can to remain safe and protect the NHS. This also applies to our employers, and they must ensure they comply with their responsibility to keep us safe, as far as possible. For more information contact Jackson Boyd for a free telephone consultation.