WE SAID THIS WOULD HAPPEN! PHE says workplaces are 2nd highest cause of COVID outbreaks

20 August 2020

 Damning report from Public Health England say workplaces are 2nd highest cause of COVID outbreaks after Care Homes


The rush to open up the economy without proper safeguards has killed workers and put many more at risk


“Right from the start, we warned that the Government’s rush to end the lockdown and open up the economy would put workers at risk” said Martin Mayer Secretary of Sheffield TUC. “Instead of forcing bosses to do a risk assessment and make it public as the TUC recommended, the Government simply made them advisory” added Martin Mayer “ensuring bosses were free to bully their employees back to work in unsafe conditions with no fear of sanctions, let alone inspections.”

Here in Sheffield there are plenty of examples of bad bosses forcing their employees back to work when it’s not safe to do so. From fast food to distribution warehouses, from food processing to manufacturing, too many bosses have ignored social distancing and sanitation requirements. Workers who refuse to come back are dismissed or their zero hours contract remains literally just that – zero hours. A further problem is those self-isolating or even catching the disease are getting no more than SSP at £94 per week which is not enough to live on, so inevitably they attempt to return to work, risking the infection of their work colleagues.

We demand:

  • Compulsory risk assessment as a legal requirement, and for them to be publicised. Where there is no trade union recognition, the boss should be made to pay for a trade union assistance to compile and agree a risk assessment as would happen in a unionised workplace
  • Urgent reintroduction of unannounced factory inspections by HSE (something which hasn’t happened for years as successive Governments have sought to deregulate health and safety)
  • Strong sanctions against bosses who fail to abide by strict guidance on social distancing, PPE (if required), sanitation etc and new powers for Local Authorities to close down premises
  • Enforcement of the right under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Act for employees to refuse to return to work if it is not safe to do so, and protection from dismissal/disciplinary
  • No loss of pay for those off sick with COVID or self-isolating, and proper community support for them to stay at home till they are safe to return to work

“The risk is not just to the workers at these unsafe premises, but to the whole community,” said Martin Mayer. “That’s why we need strong regulation and enforcement so that workplaces are safe. If we don’t, we risk repeated outbreaks of COVID infections across the community.”


 “The message to all low paid workers is clear” said Martin Mayer “join a trade union!” Any workers who want to discuss how to do this and get help organising should get in touch with Sheffield TUC in the first instance by emailing tucsheffield@gmail.com or sending a message on our Sheffield TUC Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Sheffield-TUC-136443963099901/



For more information, please contact Martin Mayer Secretary on 0776 1078482