It is expected that companies should prepare for a huge increase in claims from staff over discrimination and unfair treatment during the coronavirus lock down, with London’s finance sector expected to be the hardest hit.
Top UK employment lawyers have indicated that they expect to see a spike in complaints over health and safety concerns and unfair treatment through the UK wide lock down of the past 3 months.
At LawBid we have so far seen an increase of 30% in Employment matters being posted since the start of the pandemic, and we expect to see this increase as more and more sectors of the economy begin to re-open.
Many employees have raised concerns throughout the Covid lock down about whether their employers are falling foul of their duty of care towards employees. Concerns range from health and safety whilst working from home to discrimination against pregnant women and BAME workers plus whistle blowing issues during the lock down.
Employment lawyers advise that employees are now likely to be asking whether or not they feel safe at work, whether their employer can force them to act against government guidelines and whether their employer can refuse to allow continued working from home.
A large number of complaints are expected from workers who were required to continue working throughout the crisis but who believe that they should have been furloughed. They are likely to argue that it was unfair and discriminatory if their colleagues were allowed to stay at home on furlough whilst they had to work as normal.
As working life slowly starts to re-establish, these disputes are likely to be fuelled by employees talking amongst each other, which wasn’t happening whilst isolation was in force, and comparing notes on their lock down treatment which will lead many to believe they had been treated unfairly.
Legal experts have also warned that the global pandemic forced many businesses to make overnight changes to their way of work which may have left some employees feeling unhappy over their working conditions. Disputes are likely because many decisions had to be taken in haste in order to keep businesses from collapsing under the pressure of the unprecedented pandemic conditions and employees were not always placed first. Inevitably there will be things which could have been done better with hindsight and this will lead to discrimination claims.
Despite the difficulties faced by businesses of all sizes throughout this global pandemic, employers across the board are being warned to brace for a raft of discrimination and unfair treatment claims in the coming months.
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