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Coronavirus – selection of worker concerns published by BEIS Committee

30 March 2020

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has today published a further selection of submissions from concerned workers, following a recent appeal for the public to get in touch with the Committee on the measures their employers are putting in place to help support them during the coronavirus crisis.

 The BEIS Committee published an initial tranche of submissions on Thursday. The Committee has now received over 2,000 emails and tweets following the public appeal for evidence and aims to publish a further selection of submissions later this week.

The submissions are from employees across all sectors of the economy and from all regions of the UK.  While the work settings are diverse, a series of key concerns recur across submissions:

  • Concerns over sufficient social distancing, protective equipment and safety measures within the workplace;
  • Confusion over whether certain workplaces should remain open;
  • The Government’s Job Retention Scheme and who is eligible;
  • Rules around self-isolation and sick pay, including the use of annual leave and holiday pay;
  • The rights of pregnant women, people with existing health conditions and those living with vulnerable relatives to continue to go to work;
  • Rules around working from home.

Chair's comments

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said:

“This is a very concerning time for businesses and workers. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact us about their workplace during this crisis. These submissions highlight a series of critical issues – on safety at work, on whether workplaces should stay open, and around issues of self-isolation and working from home – which the Government and businesses need to do more, and quickly, to address.

“Many companies, big and small, are doing the right thing. They are downing tools, shutting up shop, and paying their employees to work at home. Their actions will save lives. 

“When this pandemic passes, businesses will have to answer for how they treated their workers and suppliers. The Government will be judged on the effectiveness of their response.  Many businesses will be able to tell of how they did everything they could while others will be found wanting. The BEIS Committee will continue to press for action on these issues and hold the Government and businesses to account for their response to this pandemic.”

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the BEIS Committee, has written an open letter to people who responded to the call for evidence to thank them for their submissions.


On Friday, Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer picking up on concerns raised by respondents about the challenge of childcare. On Thursday, the Committee published an initial selection of submissions received from workers. News item Selection of submissions.

On Tuesday, Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, wrote to  Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for BEIS [letter available via link] 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.

Further information