Employers have a duty of care. How does this affect employers and employees alike in respect of health and safety?
If an employee is faced with a situation which he believes poses a serious threat to his health what rights does he have? He may often leave premises or propose to do so. Any detrimental treatment, including dismissal, by the employer will usually be unlawful.
Similarly the employee is entitled to raise any grievance or express any concern to his employer about health and safety matters. Again if the employer responds by treating the employee detrimentally or dismissing him this will be unlawful.
Health and safety has a broad meaning. It can cover complaints and concerns about bullying and abusive language. Thus an employer should be aware that if, say, an employee threatens to leave the working premises because he is being bullied by his line manager and then the employer disciplines or dismisses him in response that will often be regarded as unlawful treatment under Health and Safety rules in the Employment Rights Act.
Failure to provide a safe working environment, failure to provide adequate equipment and failure to investigate complaints about Health and Safety will often be regarded as a fundamental breach of contract. This in turn will often entitle an employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal.