Ijeoma Omambala QC and Cyril Adjei are instructed by Harrison Grant LLP for the claimants, who are the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), in a challenge by way of judicial review of the UK Government’s failure to correctly transpose EU health and safety protections into UK law. The claim was issued on 22nd May 2020.
The IWGB’s members, who are mainly low paid, migrant workers and workers in the gig economy have been carrying out vital work throughout the pandemic. Carrying out this work without the implementation of protective measures has exposed them to the risk of contracting Covid-19 and of then passing this on to their families.
These workers should have had the benefit of the legal protections as regards their health and safety that are set out under EU law. More specifically, the EU’s Framework Directive 1989 and the PPE Directive 1989 both contain important health and safety protections.
Under EU law the term “worker” is broader than the UK’s concept of an employee. The UK claims to have transposed the obligations set out in EU in a range domestic legislation, in particular:
In the UK, these health and safety protections are only stated to apply to employees, when under EU law they should also apply to workers as defined under EU law.
The failure to properly transpose EU law into UK law is unlawful. The failure has also meant that IWGB’s members who have worked on the frontline during the Covid pandemic have been unable to assert their full legal rights in order to ensure that their health and safety at work is protected.
Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB General Secretary says: "As the Government looks to ease the lockdown in the midst of the pandemic, health and safety at work has never been more important. ….The UK is already compelled by EU law to extend health and safety protections to workers; it's a shame the Government would rather litigate than comply."
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