Why are Workplace Rights important in the middle of a pandemic?

We have just had one of the strangest end of year, or Christmas, that most of us have ever experienced. As we begin 2021 we are still facing unprecedented times. The Coronavirus pandemic has revealed, and is exacerbating, deep-rooted inequalities and human rights concerns; and it has become even more evident just how entrenched racial inequality is in our society. Action is urgently needed to build a more equal Wales.

With all the different current rules and restrictions and the worries, it can be difficult for people to navigate complicated employment laws and policies. 

But these restrictions don’t take priority over employment law and doing the right thing; not simply because it’s the law, but because it is the right thing to do.  That’s why we welcome the Welsh Government’s Workforce Rights Campaign, to raise awareness of employers’ responsibilities and workers’ rights. By supporting workers, employers can help keep them safe and well and in work.  By workers knowing their rights, they can help their employers navigate their way through these turbulent times.

It’s good to know that you are not on your own - there is support and information available to help you.  At the Equality and Human Rights Commission we have developed guidance for employers in the context of Coronavirus, to help you support your staff and to support your decision making. 

We know that you may have difficult decisions to make so our Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employers can help.  It is important that you consider our guidance when making decisions around redundancies, furlough and retaining staff, without making assumptions about people’s lives, such as caring responsibilities.

As an employer, you are still under legal obligations to ensure the decisions you make in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) do not directly or indirectly discriminate against employees with protected characteristics.  In addition to the general guidance we have specific guidance on supporting disabled employees and for pregnancy and maternity.

2021 has had a bumpy start, I hope that as we progress through the year we will see economic recovery in Wales starting, with human rights and equality at its heart.

If you are an employee and you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone:          0808 800 0082
Textphone:    0808 800 0084
Email:           using the contact form on the EASS website
Visit:             our advice and guidance page

BSL interpretation, web chat services and a ‘contact us’ form are also available through the website.

Blog by Rev Ruth Coombs, Head of Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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