Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Coronavirus – workers need clear guidance, Chair says
Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, has written to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for BEIS to call for clearer Government coronavirus guidance for workers to help address concerns that workers are being forced to go to work or that their employer is not offering enough support.
On Tuesday, Rachel Reeves asked workers to contact the BEIS Committee with their concerns and the letter to the Secretary of State references the fact that, within hours, the Committee had received over 250 emails [update - now at over 400 messages] from people working in a wide range of sectors and settings including office-based staff, furniture manufacturers, travel agents, estate agents, law firms, and TV engineers.
Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said:
“The Department for BEIS and the whole of Government are working incredibly hard to help support businesses and employees during these difficult times. But when workers are coming forward in their droves to say they are being forced to go to work or that their employer is simply not offering enough support to help them work safely, then it’s vital the Government comes forward with immediate clarification on which businesses are truly “essential” - and are expected remain open - and which should be sending their employees home.”
The correspondence also calls on the Government to support businesses by helping to provide more specific guidance for workplaces on social distancing.
The correspondence to the Secretary of State includes specific examples from workers who contacted the BEIS Committee raising a series of common concerns, including about working in an office even though they could easily work from home, a lack of social distancing at the workplace, using public transport to get to their work, living with vulnerable relatives, a policy of all staff being in the workplace when not all staff are essential workers, executives working from home whilst other staff are expected to be in the office, and fears over job security should concerns be raised with senior management.
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