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New government Covid guidance encourages a ‘race to the bottom’ on workers’ rights, says Co-operatives UK

News item

Published
1st April 2022
Last updated
8th April 2022
Topic
HR & Culture
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Officer worker on the phone wearing a mask
The burden has shifted onto employers and 'personal responsibility'

Today (1 April 2022) government guidance around Covid-19 was updated. But it still leaves many unanswered questions for employers and those businesses who 'do the right thing' may incur higher costs.

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “During the pandemic, businesses have faced ongoing challenges in how best to look after the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers. By removing the legal requirement on self-isolation and now further diluting its guidance in favour of ‘personal responsibility’, the Government has shifted the burden onto employers who must deal with the health and safety implications of having employees with Covid returning to the workplace.

“Businesses are being left to make their own judgement calls on how they negotiate these health and safety issues with their staff and customers. The danger is that this will encourage a race to the bottom, where co-operatives and other responsible and ethical businesses that continue to put provisions in place to protect their people against Covid-19 will face a cost burden, while other employers will face no such penalty as their staff and customers are made less safe.

"We urge government to look again at its guidance and how it can better support businesses to deal with the continued uncertainty around Covid in a way that is fair to employees and business.”

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