NI: Health and safety protections to be extended to gig economy workers

NI: Health and safety protections to be extended to gig economy workers

Diane Dodds

Health and safety protections will be extended to gig economy and precarious workers in Northern Ireland next month following a landmark court ruling in London last year.

The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2021 will come into effect on 31 May 2021.

The Order will extend protection against detriment in health and safety cases to workers in relation to any action they may take to protect themselves or others where they reasonably believe there is serious and imminent danger in their place of work.

These protections currently over cover employees, but the High Court in London ruled last November that this felt short of what was required under EU rules. The UK government decided not to appeal.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which organises gig economy workers, brought the judicial review to secure members’ right to personal protective equipment (PPE) and to refuse unsafe work.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “This Order is about more than about responding appropriately to the decision of a High Court ruling. It will also give clarity to business and individuals. As businesses emerge from lockdown, everyone will need to be protected during the transition back to the workplace.

“This Order will allow some of our most vulnerable workers the legal protection they need to act to ensure their own safety and the safety of others without fear of suffering detriment for doing the right thing. This includes protecting them against being denied promotion or training opportunities.”

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