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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3369
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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My partner works for argos and doesn't feel safe going to

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Good evening. My partner works for argos and doesn't feel safe going to work at the moment with the coronavirus. He and his colleagues feel that the employer is only worried about their profit and doesn't care about their employees safety or wellbeing. Employees are having to share headsets and epods without being given ppe or cleaning supplies to make sure they don't catch the virus. Argos does not sell any essential items, but has managed to stay open by claiming their staff work for sainsbury's so that they can still keep trading. They have found a loop hole to continue making profit. Not to mention less than 24 hours after the lockdown was announced they started doing big sales which has increased the amount of items drivers have to deliver. It's worse than Christmas trade and the drivers can't cope safe
JA: Was this workplace safety issue discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Not discussed with anyone yet. My partner has decided to stay off work for the past week due to having asthma and being scared of catching the virus, but he's been told he won't get paid after 2 weeks.
JA: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: They have an employee union
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I'd like to know where he stands and if he is able to use section 44 of the employees rights act 1996

Hi thank you for your enquiry and patience

If he has worked for the employer for at least 2 years and he can show that the safety conditions are not conducive and that their lives are being put at risk by sharing equipment and not being provided with the sanitising equipment then yes he can rely on section 44 of the employees rights act 1996.

Without symptoms of the coronavirus and without proving they have been in contact with someone infected if Argos has remained open and classed as key then he cant just self-isolate without risking disciplinary action.

I hope this helps and I would be grateful for your rating at your earliest convenience. All the best

Also, I'll check back in with you in 6 days on 4/1/2020. I can also answer any additional questions that may arise. Don't worry, there's no additional fee for this follow-up.
SolicitorRM and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
He's not self isolating. He's not claimed he has any symptoms. He's decided to stay home due to fear of catching the virus and how it would affect his asthma. He doesn't intend to go back until he feels safe that he's not at risk of catching it and I agree with him.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I can't afford the £44 for the call
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
What does it mean pay wise if he's able to claim under section 44?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Also, argos itself hasn't been classed as key workers. They've created letters for their staff that say they work for sainsbury's, but they are employed by argos not by sainsbury's
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Are you still able to see my messages?

Hi, thank you I went off line at 19:45.

If work knows that he has asthma have they not classed him as vulnerable and at high risk?

If he is not returning and he is opting to say working conditions have forced him to quit work then he would be claiming constructive dismissal and he would not be receiving pay whilst he is pursuing his claim because he will be effectively saying her has been dismissed. If he does not have symptoms, and does not live with someone at risk and his asthma does not make him vulnerable or at high risk then to not go to work and to say he will return when he feels its safe to do so will definitely result in disciplinary action because that would be unauthorised absence. He can then defend his decision on the basis of section 44 which if not accepted and he is dismissed he can claim unfair dismissal

Please note that I am not always online however when I log on I get to see all your messages and I can respond then

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Okay thank you for your help. He's not received a letter from the government yet to say if he's in the vulnerable group, but if he still doesn't by sunday he's going to contact his GP as it requests people to do if they feel they should have been on the list.

Hi that makes a lot of sense and will be handy should the employer want to accuse him of walking out for no valid reason. All the best