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UK Supermarket Bosses Pressed on Employee Health & Safety by Human Rights Think Tank

Published 03-25-20

Submitted by The Institute for Human Rights and Business

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) has issued an open letter to the Board Chairs of the UK’s major supermarkets pressing them for greater protections for staff at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter the global human rights think tank asks the Chairs of Aldi, Asda, The Co-operative, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose/John Lewis Partnership to outline their plans for implementing urgent measures to protect employee and customer health and safety. 

These measures include appointing a designated lead for lowering COVID-related risks, enforcing social distancing in stores, supplying employees safety equipment including gloves, hand sanitiser, and protective screens at checkouts, and implementing pre-entry temperature checks for customers and staff. 

John Morrison, CEO of IHRB, says in the letter:

“Our society is significantly dependent on the hard work and commitment of professions such as supermarket workers. At such a moment, their rights must be protected and employers have duty of care obligations. 

“Some UK supermarkets have announced improved measures today, but this is still not routinely applied across the country.

“Shop workers - often not represented by trade unions or other formal processes - have reported feeling “disloyal” raising safety concerns at a time when management is under stress.  

“These business leaders have a responsibility to respect workplace rights through adequate due diligence, mitigation, and prevention, even before staff themselves need to raise concern.”


The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) is an independent, non-profit think tank with consultative status at the United Nations and gives free and impartial advice to governments, business, civil society, and trade unions around the world. 

The following Board Chairs received the attached letter:

  • Mr Peter Ernst, Aldi

  • Mr Roger Burnley, Asda

  • Mr Allan Leighton, The Co-operative

  • Sir Malcolm Walker, Iceland

  • Mr Dieter Schwarz, Lidl

  • Mr Archie Norman, Marks & Spencer

  • Mr Andrew Thomas Higginson, Morrisons

  • Mr Martin Scicluna, Sainsbury’s

  • Mr John Allan, Tesco

  • Ms Sharon White, Waitrose/John Lewis Partnership 

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The Institute for Human Rights and Business

The Institute for Human Rights and Business


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