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Commenting on the government’s new back-to-work safety guidelines published today (Wednesday), TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We all want the economy to unlock as soon as possible.

“But these new back-to-work safety guidelines are a recipe for chaos and rising infections.

“They have been published without proper consultation with unions or employers, just two full working days before restrictions end on Monday.

“Instead of providing clear and consistent guidance on how to keep staff safe at work, the government is abandoning workers and employers.

“As infection rates surge, every employer must by law carry out a thorough risk assessment and take action to keep their workers safe.

“But these inadequate guidelines will leave many employers with more questions than answers and worried about their liability if they get things wrong.”

On the topic of face coverings, Frances added:

“Wearing face coverings should remain a legal requirement on public transport and in shops – it is not a matter of “personal responsibility”, nor should it be left to individual employers to decide.

“Workplace safety rules must protect shop workers, bus drivers and others working in public settings.”  

Editors note

TUC polling published last month revealed that many employers have still not taken the necessary action to ensure that workplaces are Covid-secure:

  • Nearly half of workers (46 percent) say their employer has not taken technical measures to improve airflow at their workplaces
  • 1 in 6 staff surveyed (17 per cent) say they have not been given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • 3 in 10 staff (29 per cent) said they were not consulted by their employer on a Covid-secure risk assessment 
  • 1 in 10 (11 per cent) say that social distancing still isn’t enabled in their workplace

To date not one single employer has been fined and prosecuted for Covid health and safety breaches during the pandemic.

- Polling on health and safety: BritainThinks conducted an online survey of 2,134 workers in England and Wales between May 13 and May 21 2021. All respondents were either in work, on furlough, or recently made redundant. Survey data has been weighted to be representative of the working population in England and Wales by age, gender, socioeconomic grade, working hours and security of work in line with ONS Labour Force survey data.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 

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