Your employer is obliged under the law to provide you with a safe place of work.
Unions are receiving on a daily basis reports of workplaces failing to operate the very basic requirements of social distancing (on the factory or shop floor, in vehicles and rest facilities) proper, regular and clean facilities to ensure frequent handwashing and the appropriate personal protective equipment.
This is not acceptable nor lawful and trade unions can instruct their lawyers to prepare for legal action should employers consistently refuse to implement these very basic and life saving measures.
Members must know their individual rights There are some protections for employees.
The most relevant are those which protect employees from being subjected to a detriment or dismissal (contained in S44 & S100 of the Employment Rights Act) on grounds that:
‘in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believes to be serious and imminent and which they could not reasonably be expected to have averted, they left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to their place of work or any dangerous part of their place of work’; or
‘in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, they took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect themselves or other persons in danger.’
It is for individuals to make their own decisions in their own workplace as to whether there are ‘circumstances of danger’ which they ‘reasonably believe’ to be ‘serious’ and ‘imminent’ so as to justify leaving the workplace or (while any danger persists) refusing to return or taking appropriate steps to protect themselves.
This advice is intended only to communicate what the law is; however if trade union members suffer a detriment or dismissal on the basis of a genuine and reasonable belief then your UNION WILL SUPPORT YOU. You should contact your rep or officer if you can before or as soon as possible after you have removed yourself from danger.
If you aren't in a trade union - JOIN NOW https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union
adapted from UNITE advice https://unitetheunion.org/media/3085/legal-s44-100-advice-to-members-returning-to-workplaces-180520.pdf