UNISON welcomes Welsh government’s new social distancing guidelines

First Minister says unions will help with implementing social distancing guidance

Microscopic view of the Coronavirus

UNISON Cymru/Wales has welcomed the Welsh government’s new guidelines on social distancing at work, which aim to ensure a physical distance of two metres is maintained between workers in certain employment settings.

Regional secretary Tanya Palmer said: “Every employer has a duty to keep their staff safe and it’s important for all of us to follow government advice on COVID-19.

“People need to do everything they can to stay healthy and out of hospital so our healthcare workers can concentrate on those most severely affected by the virus.”

There are clearly numerous public service work environments where it will not be possible to implement these rules, but in those instances, the workforce should have access to the appropriate personal protective equipment.

The Welsh government’s regulations mean that the two-metre social distancing rule applies to any workplace – including homes – where work and repairs are being undertaken, and also to outdoor spaces.

The new guidelines apply to those workplaces that are not already covered by the original stay-at-home rules.

All businesses will have to take reasonable measures to ensure the two-metre rule is maintained between people on their premises, whenever work is being carried out.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has indicated that trade unions will be a key part in ensuring this legislation is enforced.

Examples of how to practically implement social distancing guidance include:

  • reducing the number of people working on the premises at any one time and staggering shifts if possible;
  • increasing space between staff;
  • employers should consider appropriate provision of rest space to avoid large groups of staff taking breaks together at the same time. Could additional space be provided or breaks staggered?
  • altering tasks undertaken so that contact is reduced;
  • carrying a passenger in the back seat rather than the front seat of a vehicle.

If you need any support with this issue, please contact UNISON locally via our online branch finder.

Read the Welsh government’s full guidance here.