Two recent claims brought to the employment tribunal are based on dismissals that took place at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first case, when the pandemic started, an employer sent home a pregnant zero hours worker who was viewed to be clinically vulnerable. Before allowing the pregnant worker to return to work, the employer advised it would be unsafe for the worker to undertake night shifts working alone, and the employer conducted a risk assessment and ensured adequate social distancing procedures were in place. For the duration of the pregnant worker’s absence from the workplace, the employer paid her a generous amount above what she was entitled to her under contract. The tribunal found the employer followed public health advice and Covid guidance, and dismissed the pregnant worker’s claims for discrimination and victimisation.
However, in the second case which events took place again at the start of the pandemic, an employee expressed health and safety concerns when they did not want to deliver equipment to their unvaccinated manager who was self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms. As an alternative, the employee offered to deliver the equipment to a different location to be securely stored. The tribunal found the employee’s dismissal was automatically unfair because it was principally based on the employee raising legitimate health and safety concerns.