The Employment Tribunals (ET) are now seeing cases with a Covid connection coming through the list. In an interesting judgment in the case of D Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Limited, the ET found that an employee (with less than 2 years’ service) had not been automatically unfairly dismissed for refusing to come to work relating to concerns about Covid in the workplace, and about infecting his young family including a child with a medical complication.
It was found that although Mr Rodgers did indeed hold significant concerns about the pandemic and the possible impact of getting the infection on his unwell child, and newborn baby, Mr Rodgers did not in fact believe there were circumstances of imminent danger in the workplace, but rather that the dangers were “all around”. Further, even if Mr Rodgers genuinely believed there was imminent danger in the workplace, this belief was not objectively reasonable given the measures the employer had put in place to make the workplace Covid-secure. He could also have averted any danger in the workplace by following government guidance in the workplace.
It was significant to the finding of no (objectively reasonable belief in) imminent danger in the workplace that the employer taken all steps to ensure the workplace was Covid-secure, including appointing an external expert to undertake a risk assessment and putting in place all the measures recommended by this assessment including staggered lunchbreaks and start and finish times.