Ok thanks. As far as social distancing is concerned, that is not mandatory, but only required wherever possible. There are plenty of jobs where that isn’t possible and other methods of mitigation are adopted, such as facial coverings, screens, better hand-washing hygiene, etc.
When it comes to safety in the workplace in relation to Covid-19, the legal position has not changed, in a sense that employers have certain duties, both under common law and statute, in relation to the health and safety of their employees. These duties can be summarised as follows:
· Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 an employer has a general duty "to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees.”
· Provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees at work
· Ensure that places of work under the employer's control are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe for work and without risks to health
· Provide and maintain a safe working environment with adequate facilities and arrangements for welfare at work. including necessary PPE relevant to the risks
If the employer has introduced adequate measures considering the specific nature of the work and the risks involved, an employee can only remain off work if they are still shielding or self -isolating, which would only be covered by sick pay.
However, if the employer’s measures are unreasonable and wholly inadequate, or they have not taken any measures at all to protect their employees’ health and safety, there is one option the affected employees can take. This comes under sections 44 and 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which provide protection where employees refuse to come into work because they genuinely believe they are going to be exposed to a serious and imminent danger. If an employee relies on this protection, their employer should not penalise them in any way and if they do, the employee could potentially challenge them further in the Employment Tribunal.
See here for more details on this:
Does this answer your query?