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The Highland Times

News From and Around The Highlands of Scotland

No Return to Work Until Workplaces Fully Safe


Nicola Sturgeon must ensure companies do not ask staff to return to workplaces until it is fully safe, Richard Leonard (pictured) has said amid concerns that Boris Johnson’s advice is being followed by some employers in Scotland.

Civil servants based in Scotland were mistakenly advised to return to work this week, while a major food outlet is also understood to be drafting furloughed workers in Scotland back on site.

In a letter to the First Minister, the Scottish Labour leader has called on the First Minister to raise awareness of legislation which protects workers from recriminations if they absent themselves from the workplace to protect themselves “in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:

“As the Scottish Trades Union Congress has made clear, people should not be expected to go back to work until it is fully safe to do so.

“That means that testing and contact tracing should be in place, alongside adequate personal protective equipment and effective enforcement measures.

“We must ensure guidance is agreed with trades unions and employers on a sectoral basis, and that the jobs retention scheme is continued.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s constructive engagement with the trade unions so far, and the First Minister’s statement that Scottish workers should continue to stay at home where possible.

“But it is clear that Boris Johnson’s irresponsible intervention on Sunday night has caused confusion.

“So, we are asking the Scottish Government to remind employers of their responsibilities, and remind workers of their rights – as well as the benefits of trade union membership and collective action.”

Mr Leonard has called on the First Minister to make a public statement “setting out this statutory right, and reiterating the duty of employers to ensure that workplaces are safe”.

He said this information should also be included in the Scottish Government’s public information films on TV.

Scottish Labour supports the continuation of the furlough scheme, and has called for it to be followed by a job guarantee scheme.

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