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17 Sep 2021

All ACT members are invited to join in on the APPGCW inquiry report launch. Please contact the ACT if you would like to join in and we...

14 Sep 2021

From 1st April 2022, employer NICs will increase by 1.25 percentage points. Employee NICs will also increase by 1.25 percentage points, including for workers above state pension age

9 Sep 2021

Join tax compliance company Avalara for a webinar as they cover IOSS & selling into the EU, on Thursday 30th September at 11am.

8 Sep 2021

The Scottish Government has published its shared policy programme following the announcement of the Scottish National Party's power sharing partnership with the Scottish Green Party.

24 Aug 2021

Todaythe government has announced plans to introduce legislation which will enable CE marked goods to continue being placed on the Great British market until 1 January 2023 - an extension to...

21 Jul 2021

£2 billion will be invested over five years with the aim that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be cycled or walked by 2030, benefitting the UK's high streets in many ways

15 Jul 2021

Face coverings are no longer required by law but states that government expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowed, enclosed spaces. Businesses who want to...

1 Jul 2021

HM Treasury has launched a consultation on delivering more frequent business rate revaluations in England

17 Jun 2021

The Disability Confident scheme supports employers with the tools to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace.

17 Jun 2021

Join the Secretary of State for the Department for BEIS, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, for the next in a seriesof live panel discussions on 23rd June at 10:30 AM

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Government releases Workplace Safety Guidance: can you continue to enforce mask wearing?

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News , Political News

Theface masks Government has now published the revised Workplace Safety Guidance as England moves to Step 4 of the covid-19 roadmap on 19th July. As outlined in previous updates, legal requirements to wear face coverings, engage in social distancing and limit contact have been removed. Instead people will be asked to make informed decisions and act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to themselves and others

The new Workplace Safety Guidance for Shops, Branches and Close Contact Services encourage business to undertake six priority actions:

  • Complete a health and safety risk assessment for stores
  • Provide adequate ventilation
  • Clean surfaces more often
  • Turn away customers or colleagues that have covid-19 symptoms
  • Enable people to check in using a Test and Trace QR code
  • Communicate your procedures to colleagues and customers

The guidance states that face coverings are no longer required by law but states that government expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowed, enclosed spaces. On risk assessments the guidance outlines that employers have a legal requirement to carry out risk assessments and that Covid-19 is a workplace hazard that should be addressed in assessments. Interactive tools from the Health and Safety Executive ae available here to help you develop a risk assessment.

The guidance also places greater emphasis on the important of good ventilation, either through natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation such as fans or ducts. Its recommended that poor areas of ventilation are identified in risk assessments and options considered to increase air flow. The HSE have developed guidance on ventilation here.

Please note that the workplace safety guidance applies to England only. There are different regulations and guidance in place for Scotland and Wales.

 

Can you continue to enforce mask wearing? 

Businesses who want to enforce mask-wearing in future will face a number of competing responsibilities and duties:

  • Under the Equality Act 2010 they will have a duty not to discriminate against anyone wishing to use their services
  • However, they will also owe duties to their own employees and other customers including:
    - Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to conduct their businesses in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and customers
    - Potentially duties to make reasonable adjustments for vulnerable disabled employees or customers who may remain at higher risk from COVID-19.
The key step that businesses can take if they do want to continue with a mask wearing policy is therefore to think about their justification defence in advance. That will mean considering and clearly documenting the legitimate aim they wish to rely on and considering the proportionality of their approach. Key points to consider may be:
  • Obtaining scientific evidence on the level of risk posed by your business
  • Engaging with unions
  • An updated risk assessment of their premises, including infection control risks - for example a business with poor ventilation might be viewed differently to one with a state of the art ventilation system
  • Gauging/surveying customer opinion - if the majority of customers support a mask-wearing policy that should help show it is proportionate
  • Considering what exemptions will be allowed and how they will be applied
  • Staff training
  • Ensuring they know and understand their service users and employees - businesses with known vulnerable employees or service users may be in a stronger position to enforce the use of masks.

Overall, having a well thought out policy and ensuring consistency of treatment will be key to reducing the risk of claims.

 

Display in-store guidance

For ACT resources to display in-store regarding face coverings, social distancing and hand sanitising visit our website here.

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