Your rights: treated unfairly at work because of raising Covid19 concerns?

21st April 2020 2 min read Chris McAvoy

The worldwide spread of Covid19 has forced governments to effectively put their economies into deep-freeze, which has led to incredibly uncertain times for employees and employers alike. Record numbers of people feel that they are being, or have been, treated unfairly at work: suddenly dismissed, forced to take a pay cut or work in environments that they feel are unsafe.


Where do I stand at work?

We know that employees who displays Covid19 symptoms should isolate (including not go into work) and, if eligible, receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). However, the position for a healthy employee, who is afraid to attend work, is more complicated. If the role undertaken by such healthy employee requires them to be in contact with other, potentially infected people, their fear is unsurprising.


Where does the law leave you if you decide that you do not wish to go into work?

An employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. Can the risks associated with Covid19 be effectively mitigated in order to provide a safe workplace for employees? In some cases, we expect the answer to this question may be “yes”. However, in many cases, we expect the answer will be “no”. 

On 10 February 2020, the Secretary of State formally declared that coronavirus posed a serious and imminent threat to public health. Naturally, some employees will, therefore, believe that attending their workplace may put them in serious and imminent danger. Where an employee refuses to attend work because of a reasonable belief that they may be in serious and imminent danger, and their employer dismisses them, that dismissal may be automatically unfair. This is irrespective of whether the employee has two years’ service, or not. Other claims may arise where employees are given other disciplinary sanctions (e.g. warnings), forced to accept a pay cut or forced to resign. 


Please get in touch with us here at People Legal if the above circumstances apply to you and you have been or you think you are in the process of being:

  1. Dismissed
  2. Issued with a warning
  3. Forced to resign
  4. Forced to accept a pay cut 
  5. Forced to work in an unsafe environment


We can help

People Legal

Please call us on 0800 368 8470, email us at [email protected] or arrange a chat at We offer free initial legal advice and a range of funding options if you decide to pursue your case.