Health workers’ employment rights at risk during the pandemic

We’re concerned that pregnant and vulnerable workers’ rights are being misunderstood or ignored by employers during the pandemic, leaving local people facing impossible choices between earning money and risking their health.

Our concerns were highlighted in a piece in The Guardian in May, about a pregnant local healthcare worker who’s been left without work or pay since the end of March, and whose case our employment team has taken on.

The healthcare worker explained:

‘I want to be helping them fight the coronavirus in hospital, but I can’t risk being there. Another colleague who was pregnant and her child died, so I can’t risk myself and my baby. 

I called my employer to see if I could get help as I’m a single mum and I can’t pay my rent, but they said they can’t do anything to help me.  

‘I’m really struggling, but I don’t have a choice. That’s why I called the Law Centre to see if they could help me. Money is my problem now, so when the Law Centre said they could get me a solicitor but I wouldn’t have to pay for it, I was so relieved. They can defend my situation. 

‘I hope for me I’ll be able to get some money so I can pay my rent arrears. I also hope it will help a lot of people in my situation, at high risk of getting coronavirus, and be a wake-up call for employers. 

A lot of people are worried about it, but they don’t know who can help them. If my friend hadn’t said to call the Law Centre, I wouldn’t have known what to do.’ 

If you need support to understand and defend your rights at work during the pandemic, find out more on our Get Advice about work page.