Labour Research April 2021

Law Matters

Section 44

Regulations to extend provisions of Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (see Labour Research, February 2021, page 23) to all “workers” and not just “employees” are expected to come into effect next month on 31 May. These protect individuals from detriment for leaving or refusing to attend the workplace where there is a risk of serious or imminent danger.

Section 44 has become much more widely known during the pandemic. Workers have relied on it to avoid retribution for refusing to attend workplaces that they believe put themselves or others at risk of getting COVID-19.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order 2021 implements the ruling of the High Court that restricting S44 to employees only did not properly implement EU health and safety directives (R on the application of IWGB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and anor [2020] EWHC 3050).