Guidance – Health and safety protection during COVID-19 crisis

If you have concerns about your treatment at work, it is important that you give your employer the opportunity to resolve the problem. It is best that you do this in writing so that there is clarity about what your concerns are and these are shared with your employer in a way that you can look back on and check out whether these have been properly addressed.

Below is a template letter. You may feel confident enough to fill this out yourself and send it to the hospital.

A template letter is not as good as getting advice. Advice from an appropriate agency would make sure that any letter was specific to you unique, employment status and experiences. You can ask for this from your union (UNISON, UNITE, GMB or the Royal College of Nursing) or you can get advice from, Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, local Citizens Advice Bureau or a local solicitor who is an employment law specialist.

You can use this letter in the following circumstances:

• If you have been sent home on sick pay and you want to ask for health and safety adjustments or furlough.

• If your employer (to your knowledge) has not carried out a risk assessment

• If you have not had adjustments to make your work safe or been offered suitable alternative work.

• If you have left work temporarily because of a serious and imminent risk to your health from a health and safety breach.

• If you are requesting furlough because you are unable to work during your pregnancy as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Contacts

GMB

https://www.gmb.org.uk/coronavirus

Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council

01604 400808    info@northamptonshirerec.org.uk

UNISON

Secretary Name Mr SJ Roberts

01604 616011          Unison Office, St. Andrews Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5DGT

UNITE

https://unitetheunion.org/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19-advice/

Royal College of Nursing

0345 772 6100 Email: eastmidlands.region@rcn.org.uk

Law Society – Find a Solicitor

 https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/

Model letter

You should fill in the sections in [square brackets] with your own information.

If any part of this model letter is not relevant to your situation you can delete it.

Dear [employer’s name] [date]

I am writing to ask for urgent health and safety protection at work.

I am requesting a risk assessment in relation to my job and the risk of infection from Covid-19.

Risk assessment

All employers are required to undertake a workplace risk assessment under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, reg. 3. If you employ women of childbearing age you are also required to assess the risks to new and expectant mothers. This includes risks of exposure to the coronavirus Covid-19 as there is a higher risk of exposure in my work than outside the workplace.

There is more information about workplace risk assessments from the Health and Safety Executive here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/faqs.htm

I am concerned about the following aspects of my job and would like to be able to discuss it with you as part of my risk assessment. [Include information on any pre-existing health conditions and other information about your job that you are concerned about and would like your employer to take into account.]

Reasonable action to remove health and safety risks

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, reg. 16, require employers to take the following action to remove any risks identified:

Take reasonable action to remove the risks by altering working conditions or hours of work,

Provide suitable alternative work, without loss of pay, or

Provide suspension on full pay for as long as the risk remains.

[delete whichever does not apply to you]

I am asking for the following reasonable adjustments/PPE at work [give details of what adjustments you have discussed with your employer or what is needed to keep you safe at work]. Or

I am asking to work from home in accordance with Government guidance on social distancing. Or

As it is not possible for me to do my job safely in the workplace and there is no suitable alternative work that I can do from home I am entitled to be suspended on full pay for as long as the risk remains. Or

As I am not currently able to work safely in the workplace or from home, I am entitled to be suspended on full pay until the adjustments have been put in place.  

Temporary removal from workplace – delete if not relevant

I have temporarily removed myself from the workplace because I believed there was a serious and imminent risk to my health and safety as I have underlying health conditions and I have not been provided with health and safety adjustments/Personal Protective Equipment. The Employment Rights Act 1996, s.44 provides that an employee is protected against loss of pay and other detrimental treatment if they reasonably believe there is a serious and imminent risk of danger as a result of a health and safety breach.

Furlough – delete if not relevant

I would like to be considered for furlough (special leave) under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as I am not able to work as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. This would enable you to claim the costs of my salary up to the start of my maternity leave while I am not working. All employers/agencies can claim 80% of wage costs under the scheme up to £2500 pcm for employees who are unable to work during the coronavirus scheme, including those who are pregnant or have underlying health conditions. Government guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employers is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Direct Discrimination – delete if not relevant

I believe that I have been the victim of unlawful racial discrimination. I believe that I experienced less favourable treatment on the following occasions:

[time] [date][ward] when I was asked by [name of managerial staff member] to work with COVID-19 patients. I believe that this was discrimination because:

[If you have any evidence such as an email or other directive to use staff of a specific nationality, national or racial origin, give the details here]

I was asked to work [time, date place] on [state number of occasions] and my colleague who is [state if of another nationality] was not approach/was approached [lower number of times].

I find this additionally concerning because:

[please use this space to detail dates, times and places of where you have felt at risk]. [If you have colleagues that are able/willing to corroborate your experience you should detail this too.]

Indirect Discrimination – delete if not relevant

Indirect discrimination is defined as a provision, criterion or practice which an employer applies or would apply equally to all workers (or to all workers of a particular group), regardless of whether they possess a particular protected characteristic, which (s 19 Equality Act 2010):

–  puts, or would put, persons with the same protected characteristic as the worker at a particular disadvantage when compared to other persons;

–  puts, or would put, that particular worker at that disadvantage; and

–  the employer cannot show to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The phrase provision, criterion or practice includes not only formal conditions and requirements, but can also include informal work policies, rules, arrangements, conditions, prerequisites, qualifications, and one-off or discretionary decisions (para 4 Equality Code).

The statistics show that people of [insert national origin eg South Asian, Indian, African] descent, like myself, are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. The requirement to continue working therefore puts me at a particular disadvantage and amounts to indirect discrimination.

I look forward to a response in the next 5 working days.

Many Thanks, [name]

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s