Neither the Covid-19 nor the lack of material means justify stopping work

Neither the Covid-19 nor the lack of material means justify stopping work

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A court in Santa Cruz de Teneride rejects the request of a group of home assistants who, in the face of the spread of the pandemic, asked for the delivery of personal protective equipment and, if supplies could not be assured, the cessation of their activity without stop receiving wages.

Four days after the State of Alarm was decreed, on March 18, a group of domestic helpers from Santa Cruz de Tenerife asked to reinforce their protection to continue working. And he did it in court.

This group wanted guarantees, both from the city council of the Canary Islands and from the company for which they performed their services, to supply PPE material: masks, gloves, disposable gowns and disinfectant gel “in sufficient numbers for each service and worker” , expressed his request.

In addition, in its brief, the union representation of the workers requested that, if this material could not be guaranteed, the employment relationship should be suspended or the provision of services exempted, “with maintenance of the business duty of quote and pay wages without prejudice to what can be resolved in judgment. ”

However, both requests were dismissed. In the first place, the court pointed out the impossibility, real and manifest, of compliance by the company and the City Council due to the scarcity of the products due to a fact described by the magistrates as notorious and public “that does not need to be proven”, explains in the sentence in clear reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, in this sense, the labor inspector who studied the case stated that the home help service provided by this group includes various activities, of a very diverse nature, such as cleaning the user, cleaning their home, managing medications, etc. This implies that, depending on the specific activity carried out by the assistant, the required personal protective equipment is different.

Likewise, the Ministry of Health classifies these workers in the Action Procedure for Occupational Risk Prevention Services in the low risk category.

On the other hand, and on the exemption from going to work while the risk of contagion lasted and, in addition, receiving the salary, the court did not agree with them either. “The petition was rejected, stating that more than a thousand people need as an essential service to survive the help of these workers who come to their homes to assist them in the daily and fundamental tasks of life,” explains Raúl Rojas, a partner at Ecija.

Along these lines, the Canarian court, following the instructions of the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, stated that the service provided by these workers is essential considering the right to life and physical integrity of the users. “In no case should home benefits be interrupted, guaranteeing the coverage of essential basic needs: grooming, personal and close-environment hygiene, clothing, pharmaceutical, food and sleep treatments and benefits,” states the judgment.



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