Coronavirus: New Workplace Restrictions Introduced in Wales

Author:
Simon Rosser
Personal Injury & Disease Litigation Solicitor
Date:
23/04/2020

New workplace restrictions to manage the spread of coronavirus in Wales have been put in place.

They've been introduced to make sure that if you are still working in Wales, your employer is protecting you.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on March 26th, and on April 7th, a further restriction was added, which applies to every workplace that’s permitted to remain open.

This states that an employer responsible for work being carried out at a premises where a person is working during the emergency period must take all reasonable measures to ensure a 2m distance is maintained between any persons on the premises. The only exceptions are a carer and the person being assisted by the carer, or 2 members of the same household.

Who Does the New Restriction Apply To?

This applies to every workplace in Wales which is currently allowed to remain open. This includes:

  • Public service workplaces
  • Health and social care premises
  • Schools and childcare settings
  • Call centres
  • Hospitality centres
  • Commercial and industrial premises
  • Construction sites
  • Other open sites such as roadworks and outdoor places such as livestock markets

What Reasonable Measures Can Employers Take?

The Welsh Government has also published a new set of guidelines to clarify what constitutes reasonable measures to ensure a 2m distance can be maintained between colleagues at work. This includes:

  • Physical distancing in a workplace isn’t a requirement if it isn’t a reasonable measure in the circumstances
  • Homeworking is the most effective way of achieving physical distancing
  • Where homeworking is not possible, there is no hard and fast rule as to what will constitute a reasonable measure to ensure physical distancing
  • The test of whether a measure is reasonable is an objective one

Employers must justify the reasonable measures that they have adopted and demonstrate how they have considered that these are proportionate and effective in reducing the risk faced by employees at work.

Among the reasonable measures they can put in place are:

  • Reducing the number of people working on the premises at any one time
  • Increasing space between employees
  • Ensuring appropriate provision of rest spaces
  • Altering the tasks undertaken at work to reduce contact
  • Staggering shifts
  • Carrying a passenger in the back seat rather than the front seat of a taxi or vehicle

The Welsh Government accepts that there may be circumstances in which it isn’t possible for an employer to take reasonable measures. However, employers will be expected to undertake an assessment before concluding that there are no reasonable measures that they can take.

Are There Penalties for Not Complying?

Yes. The penalties for failing to comply with these new workplace restrictions include a fixed penalty of £60 (reducing to £30 if paid within 14 days but doubling to £120 for a second subsequent breach) or a charge with a criminal offence to be dealt with by the criminal Courts.

For employment law legal advice contact our Employment Solicitors for Employees or our Employment Solicitors for Employers.

Anyone who is concerned that they might have been harmed or contracted Covid-19 as a result of an employer not abiding by these regulations should contact our Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free consultation with legal advice.

For free legal advice call our Industrial Disease Solicitors

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