Employees left alone at Christmas

shutterstock_123956182As the countdown to the festive season begins, law firm, Gardner Leader reminds retailers juggling holiday requests to check their policy for lone workers. 

Although there are no general restrictions on working alone, the starting point for any employer is Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which requires employers to take care of the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees, as far as reasonably practicable. This is together with Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which requires employers to assess the health and safety risks to which employees are exposed whilst at work.

Michelle Di Gioia, partner in the dispute resolution team and health and safety specialist at Gardner Leader said: “It’s vital to ensure that any lone worker is given a thorough risk assessment, just like any other category or process, so they are not placed in more risk whilst undertaking their job.”

“Clearly, some types of business are more likely to be the target of criminals or other work-related violence. As well as the retail sector, industry should also be aware, as often warehouses with stock or machinery could be the target of a robbery.”

“For many retailers it often comes down to money. Many retailers have abandoned their no lone working at night policies due to rising costs, but the more vulnerable the business, the more carefully you should consider the associated risks.”

“Also, workers have as much right to bring civil proceedings against the employer if there is a clear case of negligence on the part of the business resulting in loss or damage to the worker. So ensure to have a  clear policy in place and ensure that everyone in the company knows, understands and implements it.”

A useful guide to lone working is published by the Health and Safety Executive and can be downloaded from their website :  http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf