Employers will be named and shamed if they ignore coronavirus guidance and put their staff and residents at risk.
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said she is “shocked” to hear how many people are still being told to turn up to work – and how many businesses claim they are providing “essential services”.
Ms Maskell said she is speaking to employers who are not following government guidance to allow staff to work from home where possible, enable people to work two metres apart if they have to go to work, and to close if they are not providing an essential service.
And she says she will “name and shame” York businesses that do not follow the advice.
‘People are scared’
Ms Maskell said: “It’s just unbelievable how many people are working under ‘essential work’”, adding:
I have heard about people clocking in and out using thumbprint systems, meaning everybody touches the same sensor, people getting changed in the same confined areas and some workplaces that don’t have enough space to allow for social distancing at lunch or breaks.
People are turning up to work when they shouldn’t be, and they are scared.
I am quite shocked to hear what’s going on. It just seems to me that all some employers are interested in is profit – regardless of what happens to their workers.
Ms Maskell said it is people in lower wage jobs – such as those working in factories, warehouses, construction sites and call centres – who are most at risk.
And that hundreds of residents have called her about their working conditions and many fear they will face disciplinary action if they do not turn up to work.
Poorest are suffering
She said: “It’s the poorest in our society who are being exposed to the greatest risk – the people who are most vulnerable financially and health-wise. It is a story of inequality.
“Even if people have underlying health conditions, some employees are threatened with disciplinary action if they self-isolate.”
Ms Maskell added:
A lot of people are worried about their finances – about losing their home, not being able to pay their bills – for their food, council tax and heating.And many self-employed people, who do not have huge wages, may have to wait until June for financial support.
That’s two-and-a-half months without money – that does not work.
Ms Maskell is now calling for the government to back a “proper lockdown”.
She said police do not have the power to close workplaces under the new legislation and it is only inspectors from the local authority and the Health and Safety Executive that can shut a business down. And she will report employers who do not follow the guidance to these authorities.
Ms Maskell is running telephone consultations for anyone worried about their situation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 8pm. Email [email protected] for an appointment.