Coronavirus – selection of worker concerns published by BEIS Committee
26 March 2020
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has today published a small selection of submissions from concerned workers, following a recent public appeal for the public to get in touch with the Committee on issues such as whether staff are being forced to go to work or that their employer is not offering enough support.
The published submissions are a handful of the over 1,000 emails and tweets received by the BEIS Committee in recent days but this selection exhibits a series of themes running through many of the wider group of emails received. The BEIS Committee may publish further submissions in due course.
Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said:
“Following my public appeal for workers to come forward to the BEIS Committee with their concerns about working during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve received over 1,000 emails and tweets in recent days of people highlighting their often distressing personal stories about being forced into work or lacking protection in their workplace.
“From the evidence we’ve received it’s clear that many businesses are still not doing the right thing. This must change now. This is a health emergency – it cannot be business as usual. Workplaces, even those deemed ‘essential’, should be doing all they can to ensure that their workers are able to work from home or, if they do have to attend work, that they can undertake social distancing.
“The Government came forward with an income replacement scheme – there can be no question of workers being, in effect, forced to take annual or sick-leave when they are doing the right thing and keeping themselves safe.
“Businesses need to stand by their workers and keep them safe. In time, businesses will have to answer for their decisions during this pandemic and whether they did the right thing.”
The Committee has received submissions 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.
On Tuesday, Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, wrote 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.
The correspondence to the Secretary of State included 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.
Image: Parliamentary copyright