Economy Minister Diane Dodds has welcomed new employment legislation which will benefit workers across Northern Ireland.
The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (Protection from Detriment in Health and Safety Cases) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2021 extends protections against detriment in health and safety cases to workers in relation to any action they may take to protect themselves or others where they reasonably believe there is serious and imminent danger in their place of work.
It will come into operation on 31 May 2021. At present, these protections cover only employees.
The Order must be approved by a resolution of the Assembly within six months of coming into operation. It must therefore be confirmed on or before 31 November 2021.
The move has its origins in a Judicial Review brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Health and Safety Executive in Great Britain.
A High Court Judgment was published in November which directed that the Health and Safety Framework Directive and the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Directive should apply to a wider group of workers, not just employees.
Minister Dodds said: “This Order is about more than about responding appropriately to the decision of a High Court ruling. It will also give clarity to business and individuals.
“As businesses emerge from lockdown, everyone will need to be protected during the transition back to the workplace.
“This Order will allow some of our most vulnerable workers the legal protection they need to act to ensure their own safety and the safety of others without fear of suffering detriment for doing the right thing. This includes protecting them against being denied promotion or training opportunities.”