Carers: Discrimination

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 3rd September 2020.

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Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Shadow Solicitor General

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to monitor compliance with his 11 May 2020 guidance to employers on not acting in ways that may discriminate against people with caring responsibilities.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Shadow Solicitor General

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to enforce compliance with his 11 May 2020 guidance to employers on not discriminating against people with caring responsibilities.

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (London)

The guidance is non-statutory but does not change existing obligations relating to health and safety, employment, or equalities. Employers, therefore, need to bear in mind the particular needs of different groups or individuals, and make sure that the steps they take to address the risk of COVID-19 do not unjustifiably impact on some groups compared with others. Some workers, whether through specific vulnerability, family caring responsibilities or an abundance of caution may be reluctant to re-enter a workplace even though the employer feels it is safe to do so. The Government would encourage employers to engage constructively with such workers and their representatives and try to find solutions that are agreeable to all.

If anyone has concerns that employers are not taking all reasonably practicable steps to reduce the risks of COVID-19, they should get in touch with their employee representative or union, or with the Health and Safety Executive. Health and safety legislation is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and by local authorities. We have been clear that there will be Health and Safety Executive spot checks on businesses to ensure they keep their employees safe. If the enforcing authority finds that an employer is not taking action to properly manage workplace risk, a range of actions are is open to them including specific advice or issuing enforcement notices.

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