7 April 2020
On 3 April, First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, announced Wales would be the first nation in the UK to bring in a new law requiring employers to take ‘all reasonable measures’ to comply with the two-metre social distancing rule. These Regulations were published and came into force on 7 April 2020.
The aim of the new Regulations is to try and ensure that workers are protected from the Coronavirus, but they do not quite extend to an absolute ban on people not being able to be within two metres of each other. The new rules apply to those workplaces not already covered by the original “stay-at-home” rules introduced over two weeks ago. They rules now also apply to work undertaken at home (where work or repairs are carried out) and to work in any outdoor spaces. The Regulations do not apply to members of the same household, carers or people who require assistance from their carer.
The First Minister of Wales made it clear that the new law is being introduced in response to people in Wales expressing fear that their health is being compromised at work. He also stressed that ‘this is not about stopping business from operating; it’s about business operating in a way that is safe for their employees’.
Although local authorities and the police have the power to issue fines for non-compliance with the Regulations, the First Minister of Wales has commented that the Welsh Government is unlikely to enforce the two-metre rule strictly observing that “The best enforcers of this are workers themselves.”
The Employment team at Hugh James has been working closely with businesses during this time to help them navigate through the employment implications caused by the pandemic and will continue to monitor developments coming out from Government.
For further advice on Coronavirus Covid-19 related employment queries please contact our dedicated Employment and HR Services team.