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New law: Workers now protected from ‘detriment’ for steps they take to protect their health and safety at work

Author: Atom Content Marketing

Published: 01 May 2021

Employers must avoid subjecting workers (as well as employees) to a detriment if they take steps to protect themselves from work risks, based on a reasonable belief their health and safety is at risk, under new employment laws in force from 31 May 2021.

Employees have long been protected against detriment from their employer if they take certain steps to protect themselves against what they reasonably believe to be risks to their health and safety at work – for example, if they:

  • Leave, propose to leave, or refuse to come back to work because they reasonably believe being there would put them in serious and imminent danger.
  • Take (or propose to take) steps to protect themselves (or anyone else) from what they reasonably believe to be a serious and imminent danger.

Detriments could include disciplinary action or not being paid, for example.

From 31 May 2021 this protection is extended to workers, and not just employees.

This is a particular issue for employers currently, as employees – and now workers – are increasingly considering whether they are as protected as they should be from COVID-19 while at work and are taking steps to protect themselves if they do not believe they are.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Employers should review their workplace health and safety policies and procedures, to take account of the new protections against detriments for workers in addition to employees.

This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Copyright © Atom Content Marketing

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Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.