Employment Law: Covid-19 Employment Appeal Tribunal | June 2022

Employment Law: Covid-19 Employment Appeal Tribunal | June 2022

In this Employment Law update, we're taking a look at the case of Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting, where an Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision to dismiss an employee after he refused to return to the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Rodgers asserted that he had left and/or had not returned to his place of work because he believed there were circumstances of danger, that were serious and imminent, arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic and in terms of section 100(1)(d) ERA, he could not reasonably have been expected to avert. The claim was heard on 29th January 2021 and the judgment was sent to the parties on 1st March 2021.

The workplace in question was a large warehouse type building that normally contained 5 people working in that environment. The case relates to a work colleague of Mr Rodgers, who developed Covid-19 in March 2020 during the first national lockdown and despite this, the company had chosen to remain open while putting in place various measures including social distancing/ventilation etc and risk assessments carried out by external experts.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's dismissal of the claim, as his employer had taken reasonable measures to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace and the the fact that the employee did not believe there to be a serious and imminent danger in the workplace, but rather a serious and imminent danger in the world at large.

In addition, the EAT ruled in this case that the employee could reasonably have taken other steps to avert the danger. He could have taken similar steps both at large and at work, such as wearing a mask, socially distancing, sanitising and washing his hands.

This is one of the first cases to go through the tribunal process relating to Covid-19 and a refusal to return to the workplace. However, whilst it is unique to the individual circumstances, in this case it is worth noting that a precedent such as this will no doubt be reflected in any future cases of this kind.

Click here to find out more about this case

NB: The above information is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law. However, if you have any HR issues on this or any other HR matters and would like to talk them through with our team, please contact us.

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