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Should all employees be wearing face coverings in the workplace?

September 7, 2020
Employment Law

Many businesses have been working hard over recent weeks to make their workplaces ‘COVID-Secure’ for both their staff and their customers. However, should employers now be requiring all their employees to wear face coverings whilst at work?

The Government says ‘no’ (for now)

For good reason, the government continues to insist on us maintaining 2-metre ‘social distancing’ where we can and 1-metre distancing (with additional safeguards), where necessary. We are also getting used to other measures such as the requirement to maintain high levels of hygiene and to wear face coverings in certain settings. So what more (if anything) should businesses be doing to make us all safe and reduce the rate of virus transmission?

Interestingly, France has recently taken the decision to require face coverings to be worn by all employees working in an environment where more than one person is present. This measure came into force on 1 September 2020; we await news of whether it appears to have had any appreciable impact on transmission rates. If it makes a difference, should we be following suit?

Well, as things stand, Matt Hancock (the Health Secretary) has indicated that the UK government has no plans to introduce similar measures on this side of the channel. Nevertheless, individual employers may still want to permit, facilitate or even encourage the wearing of face coverings in certain settings. Furthermore, a change of heart on the part of the government (also known as a ‘U-turn’) is entirely possible on an issue such as this. So it’s worth keeping a close eye out for news of further developments.

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