The government has announced that social distancing can be reduced from two to one metre but only if measures are in place to mitigate the risk. Examples of measures that can be used to mitigate the risk include, consider if the activity needs to continue, working back to back or side to side, screens being fitted to protect workers, only working together at less than two metres apart for short periods and reducing the number of people each person has contact with.
If your employer is making you work within two metres of another person, with no mitigating measures in place, they are breaking the government guidelines.
The government has produced guidelines on what measures employers should be taking to protect workers for the following sectors
Close contact services
Construction and other outdoor work
Factories, plants and warehouses
Labs and research facilities
Offices and contact centres
Other people’s homes
Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services
Shops and branches
Vehicle, including couriers and other mobile workers
The visitor economy
Hotels and other guest accommodation
You find all the details here:
If you feel unsafe in your workplace you should check that your employer is complying with the government guidelines for your industry. Talk to your co-workers and contact your union branch if you are a member of a union. You should try to identify all the areas where you feel your employer is not complying with the government guidelines. Talk to your co-workers and get their opinion. Draw up a list of where you feel your employer is not complying with government guidelines.
You should then make a complaint to your employer. The best way to do this is to write a letter setting out where you feel that your employer is not following government guidelines. Then get all your co-workers to sign the letter and give the letter to your employer. Remember to keep a copy of your letter.
If your complaint is ignored, talk to your co-workers and discuss what action you should take. One option would be to again write to your employer, inform them that if they do not comply with the government guidelines, you propose to refuse to work in any area of the workplace that you feel is not safe or carry out activities that are not safe. If you feel that the whole of the workplace is unsafe, you should inform your employer that you propose to refuse to enter the building if nothing is done.
If your employer still refuses to comply with government guidelines you should again talk to your co-workers and discuss taking action. If you decide to take action, plan how best to do it collectively. If you are planning to refuse to work on a particular task or work in a particular area of the building all get together to inform your employer. If you are refusing to enter the building all meet up in an area close to the building, say the car park, and inform your employer that you are refusing to enter the building.
WHEN TALKING TO WORKERS OR TAKING ACTION YOU SHOULD ENSURE THAT YOU ARE MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING AT ALL TIMES.
If you need help or support contact us here at the Solidarity Federation