What should I do if I am asked to work without additional PPE?

18th August 2020

What should I do if I am asked to work without additional PPE?

My practice owner has not carried out risk assessments and is asking me to return to work without any additional PPE or screens and has said that they will only provide hand gel. I do not feel safe with this, what should I do?

Sadly, you are not alone in this scenario and employers have a duty of care to ensure everyone is safe; patients and staff. As difficult as it may be, you need to raise your concerns and advise that the government have said risk assessments must be done and workplaces should be covid secure.

Offer to do the risk assessments with them and then make suggestions on how to make your environment covid secure. If you remain unhappy, you may wish to raise this through your formal grievance procedure although I would hope this would not prove necessary.

It is worth being aware that Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996:

· Section 44. provides employees with the means to contest the adequacy and/or suitability of safety arrangements without fear of recriminations (e.g. getting sacked or transferred) or suffering detriment (e.g. loss of wages)

· Section 44. provides employees with the ‘right’ to withdraw from and to refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe. Employees are entitled to remain away from the workplace (e.g. stay at home) if – in their opinion – the prevailing circumstances represent a real risk of serious and imminent danger which they could not be expected to avert

· Section 44. entitles employees to claim for ‘Constructive Dismissal’ and (unlimited) compensation if an employer fails to maintain safe working conditions

· Section 44. means employees do not have to wait until they (or someone else) suffer injury before they can take action to get suitably safe working conditions

· Section 44. leaves employees with no excuse whatsoever for tolerating unsafe working conditions and acts as a deterrent against an employer either deliberately or carelessly devoting inadequate resources to the protection of safety in their workplace

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

What would you like to ask Tracy?

Tracy has worked in general practice management for over 13 years with a passion for turning around vulnerable or struggling practices and making a difference to patients. Tracy has been a Care Quality Commission (CQC) Practice Manager Specialist Adviser since 2014 along with being a peer appraiser, national trainer, dementia friend champion and a trustee board member with her local Healthwatch.

Tracy also worked nationally for 18 months as the General Practice Development and Primary Care Network (PCN) Lead supporting practices, PCNs and federations.

Tracy is a chartered fellow with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a fellow with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) holding postgraduate qualifications in strategic leadership.

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