Trade unions issue warning to businesses continuing non-essential work
Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has issued a stark warning to employers, following reports that some employers are continuing non-essential work, despite guidance from the UK Government.
STUC says it was inundated with complaints about companies remaining open for non-essential work and pressuring employees to attend, even while business was suspended.
It warned employers that they could find themselves in implied breach of contract and face future constructive dismissal claims if judged to be endangering workers. STUC believes that, with Government advice making clear that only essential work should continue, the burden of proof would be on the employer to prove they had acted reasonably.
The trade union congress, which comprises 37 affiliated trade unions in Scotland, also asserted that employers have a statutory duty to risk assess for COVID-19, as it is a “substance hazardous to health”, and to put in place a safe system of work.
STUC general secretary designate, Rozanne Foyer said: “While many employers have acted swiftly and correctly too many have not.
“This has caused general confusion and real alarm. Union offices across Scotland have been inundated with calls from members. Meanwhile the STUC is fielding questions by the minute from worried workers.
“Our advice to workers is clear, contact your union for support, join a union and in the meantime contact the STUC for advice. Speak to other workers and make a joint demand of the employer to present clear justification of a decision to compel you to work.
“Contact your health and safety rep if available or otherwise insist on seeing the full risk assessment your employer is obliged to undertake.”