Last week, alongside an announcement on the opening of applications for the Scottish Government's business support scheme, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced that further rules around the wearing of face coverings in Scotland were to be introduced, in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Two of these changes relate to measures in the workplace, and are now in force.
These important changes are:
- The wearing of face coverings in a workplace canteen, when not seated at a table, such as when queueing, entering or leaving the canteen (in line with other hospitality venues) – from Friday 16 October.
- The wearing of face coverings in other indoor communal workplaces, such as corridors and social spaces – from Monday 19 October.
These measures are to be implemented alongside existing coronavirus restrictions, and will be kept under review. For the time being, the regulations for face coverings do not currently apply to school, early learning and childcare settings.
These are formal amendments to The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Additional Temporary Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 ("the Regulations"). Amongst other important considerations (including a list of places where face coverings must be worn), the Regulations contain detailed provisions in respect to the enforcement of the rules around face coverings and public gatherings, and also the potential penalties that can be handed out for non-compliance.
In particular, Regulation 26 provides that it is an offence to contravene certain of the regulations, including those relating to face coverings. This can render any person found to have committed an offence is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
In addition, a body corporate (which includes – but is not limited to – companies; limited liability partnerships, and partnerships) will be found to have committed an offence under the Regulations where;
- an offence has been committed with the consent of an officer (i.e. director, secretary, manager, member, partner etc.) of the body corporate; or
- an offence has been committed which is attributable to any neglect on the part of such an officer.
Employers must implement safe working practices
Where it can be shown that a body corporate has committed an offence on this basis, the officer (and the body corporate) will be found to have committed the offence, and both will be liable to be prosecuted against and punished accordingly. Accordingly, it is very important that employers implement safe working practices that do not contravene the new rules announced by the First Minister last week.
It is not unforeseeable that further restrictions will be announced in future as the country continues to battle against coronavirus, and it is becoming increasingly important that employers are familiar with, and adhere to, the ever changing rules and restrictions.
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If you have any queries please contact one of the employment team to discuss further.