Landmark court case clarifies absence rules around Covid safety, say HR Specialists at Haslers


With rates of Coronavirus infections rising again across the UK, HR specialists at Loughton accountancy firm, Haslers, have said that a new employment tribunal brings clarity on staff absences due to safety concerns.

A worker who refused to go to work over concerns about Covid safety and lost his job has had his appeal at a UK employment tribunal rejected.

The employee of Leeds Laser Cutting, referred to as D Rodgers, informed his workplace on 27 March 2020 that he would not be returning to work until after lockdown over concerns about his children’s health, one of whom had sickle-cell anaemia.

The company acted quickly and had put protective measures in place for employees, including mandatory mask wearing and staggered start times.

Despite these measures, Rodgers continued to refuse to come to work and was dismissed by his employer as a result of his absence.

He subsequently brought a claim for automatic unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act. However, the tribunal dismissed the claim, believing there was no serious imminent danger to anyone despite Rogers’s concerns.

This decision was, in part, swayed by Rodgers’s decision to work in a pub during lockdown, despite claiming that his work at Leeds Laser Cutting put him at risk.

This case is one of several cases brought by employees against the practices of employers during the pandemic and is likely to help form precedents that might be important in future employment disputes, according to Haslers HR.

James Boden, Head of HR at Haslers, said:

“The pandemic created a challenging period for many employers, with lots of businesses uncertain about the actions they should take regarding absences, especially where employees may have claimed to be avoiding work due to health and safety, or where they were protecting vulnerable friends or relatives.

“This case does give some clarity to employers who may be facing a comparable situation or who are unsure about how they should manage covid-related absences going forward.

“While for many of us the worst of the pandemic may appear to be over, the reality is that we live with this virus daily and the recent surge in cases has only highlighted the need for employers to continually review their policies regarding absence and sickness.”

If you need up-to-the-minute HR advice, speak to the team at Haslers HR by contacting James Boden by emailing

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