Covid-19 Employee safety measures

Even though the State of Alarm continues, some are allowed to open their places of work.

However, employers are obliged to make sure that their employees are in an environment that is set up to protect them and meets the obligatory safety requirements, whenever employees are unable to work from home and have to visit their actual place of work. So what have we been told so far:

  • All employees must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • The employer is responsible to make sure that this PPE is fit for purpose and is used correctly by employees.
  • Hand sanitiser has to be provided and not just provided but used.
  • Regulations will be brought in telling employers how work premises have to be sanitised, what they must do and how often they must do it.
  • Employees have to keep the 2 metre security distancing. Equipment and work areas have to be disinfected after use.
  • Where possible for non retail businesses, client contact is to be avoided, video or phone conferencing is greatly encouraged.
  • The employer will have the right to sanction any member of staff who does not comply with the safety measures. What the sanction will be, as yet we don’t know and await more from the Government.

We do know that inspections are going to be carried out, we don’t know yet what the fines will be for non compliance. The Government is placing great emphasis on the carrying out of inspections and sanctions that will be levied on employers for non compliance.

We do know that a recent ruling allowed for a company to suspend employment and salary of one of it’s employees for not using the PPE that had been provided. The full facts are limited but the gist is if employees do not adhere to these health and safety rulings, employers can impose penalties for such ‘desobediencia’. It might seem obvious but these employee protection measures are obligatory for both full time and part time employees together with temporary employees. If an employer makes any distinction between temporary employees, ie expecting them to provide their own PPE, this will be considered a major infringement and punishable by fines ranging from 2,046 € and 40,985 €. Serious business, so do take note.

What will probably be required is some kind of protocol or manual that the employer will have to write and this will probably have to be combined with employee training. We already have forms to be used when handing out PPE equipment which employees must sign to confirm their receipt of said PPE.

It would also be useful to know where employers can obtain the required amount of PPE. It’s easier to find the holy grail than a pair of latex protective gloves at the moment, as for masks and sanitiser, again not exactly in abundance are they.

I think it is fair to say that most employers would want to ensure that their employees are protected as much as possible, we certainly do at Spence Clarke, it would just makes things a little more bearable if some of the Government ministers could recognise this as well and maybe adopt more of a carrot approach rather than the stick beating approach, they seem to favour when dealing with employers.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and healthy.