SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin, the party’s economy spokesperson, has called on the First and Deputy First Ministers to increase employee protection during the pandemic.
She was responding to complaints from constituents in Derry that they were being forced to work in unsafe conditions, including to undertake non-essential work.
She said: “I am very concerned at reports that have been brought to me regarding the treatment of staff that have raised health and welfare concerns with management. Specifically, it is not acceptable for staff to be made redundant because they bring their concerns to their political representatives, as has been alleged.
"It seems that the regulations currently afford employers a substantial amount of flexibility to interpret the rules to their own benefit, failing to put employee welfare first. I have heard other reports of employers arguing that physical presence is essential for business purposes when in reality employees could be carrying out their work duties from home. This undermines the sacrifices many of us are making in limiting our contacts to reduce the spread of a deadly virus.
"The First and Deputy First Ministers must move quickly to close these loopholes and ensure that any rogue employers face real consequences."
(Photo: Little Films)