Employment tribunal finds that concerns about coronavirus are not sufficient reason to not attend work.

In the case of Mr D Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Mr Rodgers worked in a large warehouse with around 5 other people. He has a child with a chronic condition and said that he did not feel safe coming into work during the first national lockdown because of his fears of catching COVID-19. His employer said that his failure to attend work was not reasonable as his job could not be done from home and they had put in place appropriate safety measures to protect staff. They sent out an employee communication on 24th March saying, “we are putting measures in place to allow us to work as normal.” The tribunal found that these measures lived up to generally accepted standards.

Mr Rodgers was sacked in April 2020. The employment judge dismissed Mr Rodgers’ claim. While he recognised that Mr Rodgers had serious and understandable concerns about the risk of catching Coronavirus outside his home, these fears were not related to the workplace. Mr Rodgers never raised concerns about workplace safety with his employer. He also accepted that social distancing was not hard in the workplace and that frequent handwashing was practised.

This case demonstrates the complexity of such issues. The case no doubt fell down on Mr Rodger’s response to the perceived threat. The steps he took to protect himself were not appropriate. The business had thorough measures in place to protect its employees and cannot be made liable for the particularly risk-averse nature of one employee. Ultimately, if businesses adhere to government guidelines, they are unlikely to be made liable for this type of claim.


Original article ‘Is Coronavirus a reason not to come to work?‘ Written by Makbood Javaid Published by The HR Director


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