Workers also get protection from suffering a detriment on health and safety grounds including the right to be provided with PPE!

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Workers also get protection from suffering a detriment on health and safety grounds including the right to be provided with PPE!

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Workers (not just employees) should also get protection from suffering a detriment on health and safety grounds including the right to be provided with personal protective equipment (“PPE”) held the High Court in the case of The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain v The Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and Others. 

In this case, the Union sought a declaration that the government had failed to properly implement European Union directives on health and safety at work including the provision of PPE to its lower-paid members in the “gig economy” (namely those which classified as workers rather than employees) including taxi private hire, bus and coach drivers, all of which were at increased risk due to Covid-19. On consideration of these directives, including the PPE Directive which states that an employer must provide PPE if the risks of an activity cannot otherwise be avoided, it was held that the definition of a “worker” for the purposes of these Directives should be the same as used in others, such as equal pay and working time. 

What does this mean for the larger workforce? Well, in the event any forthcoming appeal does not overturn this decision, the government will be required to introduce legislation to extend the scope of these protections and include the broader category of “workers” which will no doubt have a significant impact, particularly in public or customer-facing roles. Ultimately, this is a positive decision that will provide extended protection for workers in the same way it does for employees.

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