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Mask or Maskless?

Employers Seek Guidance As Government Hands Responsibility Over To Business Owners On How To Implement “Freedom Day.”

As “Freedom Day” hits the UK and releases many businesses and individuals from the restrictions that have been in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are mixed messages with which business owners find themselves dealing.

The fewer restrictions there are, the more it seems to complicate matters in the workplace.

Many industry leaders, as well as clients of Barrett and Co, have been frustrated and have requested clarification on the new freedoms the Government has announced.

Mike Cherry, CEO of the Federation of Small Businesses, (of which we are a member) has made it very clear that ‘safe operation will not be possible without clear workplace guidance’.

When things are crystal clear, it is much easier to know where you stand and what you should be doing.

The fact that the rules change constantly means that business owners have to be on their toes to know what to do. The government has passed the responsibility for decisions on to employers. This has led to many of our clients asking questions such as;

  • Do employees have to wear masks?
  • Do clients have to wear them?
  • Can I ask staff to come back to the office or can they continue to work from home?
  • Can I ditch the sanitiser?
  • Can staff book holidays?
  • What happens if they have to isolate themselves when they get back?
  • Is it unpaid leave if someone has to self isolate?
  • How do I deal with vulnerable staff members?
  • What if I have to make people redundant because of the consequences of the pandemic?

Health and Safety in the Workplace.

The Health and Safety in the Workplace Act means that employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees, even if they are working from home. This is the main piece of legislation that guides legal opinion and the practical implementation of systems and procedures in the workplace.

Whether making sure there are fire exits, or that there is no asbestos, or that everyone has the right equipment to do heavy lifting, employers have to ensure these things are taken care of.

And it is employers who have to make sure staff are protected against the new Delta variant of the coronavirus.

This means that even though there are fewer legal restrictions in place, an employer can decide on things such as retaining mask wearing at work and social distancing.

There are as yet, no test cases in law about employers asking staff to wear masks voluntarily. The law simply has not caught up with the pandemic and working practices.

Some people may not want to wear a mask, but it is very likely that many employers will continue to operate in a way that protects staff.

Get Legal Help On Employment Law and Coronavirus

Getting your Health and Safety aligned with Government guidelines, Health and Safety Law and your own preferred way of working, might seem tricky at this moment but it is one area of law where you cannot afford to get it wrong.

If you would like someone to help our employment expert Justin Sadler offers a one hour review of your Health and Safety for just £95.

Further Reading:

Government Eases COVID Rules on Residential Possession

Top Tips for Charities During COVID-19

Can you exclude entry to someone for refusing to wear a face mask? Part 1

Can you exclude entry to someone for refusing to wear a face mask? Part 2

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Get in touch

Justin deals with all aspects of Dispute Resolution for both businesses and individuals, including including Contentious Probate, Employment Law ( for both businesses and individuals) and Commercial Litigation. This means that he is familiar with the many different courts and tribunal as well as the many different methods for resolving disputes, including alternative dispute resolution such as adjudication and mediation.

If you would like to know more or arrange a fixed fee appointment, please call us on 01189  589711. Or email Justin Sadler at [email protected] or Hilary Buckle at [email protected]

"barrettandco" and "Barrett & Co" are trading names of Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership incorporated in England and Wales under registration number OC356263, with registered office at Salisbury House, 54 Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4AZ. Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority www.sra.org.uk (SRA Number 549694).

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We are fully open, however if you are visiting us in person before 24th October, our car park is temporarily out of action. We advise you to use Queens Road multi storey or other public car parks.