Grahame calls for employers to act responsibly

Thursday March 26th 2020

Christine Grahame

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Local MSP Christine Grahame has called on employers to act responsibly with regards to the current Covid-19 guidance and to not try to circumvent it or find loopholes to remain open where they don’t need to. Ms Grahame has received a number of reports from distraught constituents who are being told they must attend work despite not being essential workers or having been medically advised to stay home for their or their families safety.

Current guidance from the Scottish Government states that all business premises, sites and attractions should close now unless:

– They are essential to the health and welfare of the country;
– They are being or are repurposed to support essential services;
– They are capable of working in a way fully consistent with established social distancing advice;
– Wider public health or other considerations apply and require a facility or service to operate for a specific period of time for a safe shutdown.

All individuals and businesses not being specifically required to close are asked to consider the following key set of questions:

– Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
– If so, can your staff work from home?
– If not, can you practice safe social distancing and comply with all other standard health and safety requirement?

If the answers to none of the above questions is yes, The Scottish Government requires businesses to close. The Scottish Government also expects construction sites in Scotland to be closed, unless the building under construction is essential – for example, a hospital.

Ms Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said:

“Coronavirus is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and the measures we take to deal with it must reflect its magnitude. I acknowledge the very acute challenges faced by businesses and I am grateful to the very many companies that are being responsible by actively supporting homeworking and allowing staff the time off for isolation.

“Unfortunately, I ma receiving reports that a number of businesses in our area are not observing the guidelines on whether they can stay open or must close. This is not acceptable, nor is it acceptable to place workers under unnecessary and unacceptable pressure regarding their terms and conditions. Employers should make sensible decisions about what is essential work with their employees welfare in mind – it should not be up to employees to make difficult decisions about whether they can safely attend.

“It is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with the social distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath. I urge businesses to act responsibly at this time of national emergency – it is quite literally a matter of life and death.”

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