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craig_NF  
#1 Posted : 05 May 2020 13:33:03(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
craig_NF

So I have been asked to enforce social distancing during employee break times, with threats of dismissal for those who are choosing not to follow these rules (Of which there are a few). I have added signage on doors to canteen areas, rearramged the room and staggered breaks to ensure that the canteen can hold everyone with over 2m between employees. I carried out some training which has been signed off against as well, basically underlining all of the above. 

So my questions are as follows - Can the company dismiss people for failing to socially distance during break times? Can I actually enforce this due to the fact they are on break? Will the company be in any way liable for legal action in the even we do carry out disciplinary action?

A Kurdziel  
#2 Posted : 05 May 2020 14:25:22(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Have you looked to ACAS about this?

They have advice both on disciplinary procedures and covid-19 
Roundtuit  
#3 Posted : 05 May 2020 17:27:51(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

What an unfortunate user name.

Now ask yourself a very serious question (unless you are based in Wales) is there any legislation that specifically requires 2m distancing?

Latest WHO guidance is actually moving from this recommendation and the UK governement guidance has always been "where possible" (even the Welsh legislation carries this caveat).

Methinks you are seeking to use the cover of Covid to enact dismissals - be very careful as this could be construed as a constructed dismissal.

Why not try a more positive approach and dictate employee break times such that your problems are  sperated by time as well as distance.

Currently grinning at the thought of what the Anti-Nazi League acronym sounds like - typical Guardian reader

Edited by user 05 May 2020 19:24:39(UTC)  | Reason: Guardian

Roundtuit  
#4 Posted : 05 May 2020 17:27:51(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

What an unfortunate user name.

Now ask yourself a very serious question (unless you are based in Wales) is there any legislation that specifically requires 2m distancing?

Latest WHO guidance is actually moving from this recommendation and the UK governement guidance has always been "where possible" (even the Welsh legislation carries this caveat).

Methinks you are seeking to use the cover of Covid to enact dismissals - be very careful as this could be construed as a constructed dismissal.

Why not try a more positive approach and dictate employee break times such that your problems are  sperated by time as well as distance.

Currently grinning at the thought of what the Anti-Nazi League acronym sounds like - typical Guardian reader

Edited by user 05 May 2020 19:24:39(UTC)  | Reason: Guardian

craig_NF  
#5 Posted : 05 May 2020 19:49:24(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
craig_NF

Unsure why my username is unfortunate, It is the initials of a previous emplyer I was with when I openened this account many years ago.

I have been asked to manage this with threat of dismissal - This is far from the course I wish too take hence I am seeking advice on this. As I noted I have carried out training and put up signage so people are aware of the dangers and advice regarding social distancing.

It is possible within this area to maintain social distancing, I had amendments made to the layout to ensure this - It is people choosing not to follow it. I have capped the number of employees allowed in the area at a capacity that can ensure social distancing.

There may not be specific legislation tto this situation but HSE states;

"Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, eg employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance or ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified, we will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements with the guidance."

The workplace itself has been segregated out with max employees per time, Max employes per changing room, toilet, training has been carried out etc.

My concern and question is, is this applicable during periods of break, it is not in their line of work if that makes sense?

Originally Posted by: Roundtuit Go to Quoted Post

What an unfortunate user name.

Now ask yourself a very serious question (unless you are based in Wales) is there any legislation that specifically requires 2m distancing?

Latest WHO guidance is actually moving from this recommendation and the UK governement guidance has always been "where possible" (even the Welsh legislation carries this caveat).

Methinks you are seeking to use the cover of Covid to enact dismissals - be very careful as this could be construed as a constructed dismissal.

Why not try a more positive approach and dictate employee break times such that your problems are  sperated by time as well as distance.

Currently grinning at the thought of what the Anti-Nazi League acronym sounds like - typical Guardian reader

craig_NF  
#6 Posted : 05 May 2020 20:13:00(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
craig_NF

I did look at ACAS website but I couldn't see anything that answered my question unfortunately. I don't want to do disciplinary - thats a last resort but I do want to make sure the business are doing the correct thing!

Originally Posted by: A Kurdziel Go to Quoted Post

Have you looked to ACAS about this?

They have advice both on disciplinary procedures and covid-19 
Roundtuit  
#7 Posted : 05 May 2020 20:35:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

So National Farmers not National Front. Unfortunately your post is beginning to sound like a Nuremberg defence. Just been reading an article where a lettings agent has demanded the results of a Covid test before arranging an engineer to fix a broken boiler at a rented property "to protect the business". Problem is such behaviour gets normalised and accepted and before too long.......
Roundtuit  
#8 Posted : 05 May 2020 20:35:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

So National Farmers not National Front. Unfortunately your post is beginning to sound like a Nuremberg defence. Just been reading an article where a lettings agent has demanded the results of a Covid test before arranging an engineer to fix a broken boiler at a rented property "to protect the business". Problem is such behaviour gets normalised and accepted and before too long.......
craig_NF  
#9 Posted : 05 May 2020 20:54:31(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
craig_NF

All I am really asking, is if it is enforcable to force employees to socially distace when on rest breaks at work, My opinion is that I can provide them with the information and training, and then remind them and not enforce this whilst on break via disciplinary or any other action.

There seems to be very little guidance on this specific issue, and am looking for clarification on it.  I have an employer to keep happy and employees that I wish to keep safe and am trying to find the correct solution to ensure both these goals are carried out.

Originally Posted by: Roundtuit Go to Quoted Post
So National Farmers not National Front. Unfortunately your post is beginning to sound like a Nuremberg defence. Just been reading an article where a lettings agent has demanded the results of a Covid test before arranging an engineer to fix a broken boiler at a rented property "to protect the business". Problem is such behaviour gets normalised and accepted and before too long.......

AcornsConsult  
#10 Posted : 05 May 2020 21:47:50(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AcornsConsult

Personally, I don't see how it can be made any more specific, it's all new territory and an evolving situation.   I agree with above, change the breaks to minimise the opportunities, enderstand why they see SD is not applicable during breaks.  iMHO, I'd be very wary of discipline, or at least demonstrate Its applicable throughout the site.  In the absence of firmer guidance, use words of warning, proactively monitor and supervise the breaks.   My concern at discipline is that discipline under a set of circs today may be changed and softer/harder by tomorrow.  By the time you get to a discipline hearing / decision, it could all change again.   it may need more active and direct intervention, rather than potential job losse#.

thanks 1 user thanked AcornsConsult for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 07/05/2020(UTC)
Wailes900134  
#11 Posted : 06 May 2020 05:39:30(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Wailes900134

Originally Posted by: craig_NF Go to Quoted Post
All I am really asking, is if it is enforcable to force employees to socially distace when on rest breaks at work, My opinion is that I can provide them with the information and training, and then remind them and not enforce this whilst on break via disciplinary or any other action. .
My thought would be that once you accept that viral spread is a current hazard in the business and becomes subject to your risk assessment processes then your identified control measures (including social distancing) must also be effective during break times. If you believe your control measures will prevent people from contracting a virus that has already killed tens of thousands, why wouldn't you want it to be effective during breaks too? Clearly a control measure so heavily dependant on the behaviour of those you seek to protect is better served by good situational leadership in how the measures are defined, communicated and supported to success, rather than merely told and ruthlessly enforced (could degenerate into an HR version of WaccaMole). Perhaps ask yourself how the defeating of other control measures are dealt with in the business when that occurs? Are they viewed as commonplace misdemeanours with little consequence or seen as gross misconduct and swiftly moved into a fair and just HR process? Do I see a wave of enforcement action from regulators for failing to enforce? No. Do I see a wave of civil litigation for which a lack of ability to evidence of effective implementation (including breaks) will cause a problem in defence? Probably yes...
ColinT  
#12 Posted : 06 May 2020 13:32:17(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
ColinT

Perahps you need to ask yourself why staff aren't following these instructions and then address that issue,do they really understand the implications of contracting or passing on COVID to other staff and their family. Inevitably, taking the 'big stick' approach is unlikely to change attitudes if they believe that they aren't doing anything wrong, its more likely to make them resistant. If you really want to be pedantic, remind them of their duties under HASAWA 1974, specifically to co-operate with H&S matters. There is little point in warning signs if its not enforced, in the event of a civil claim or enforcement action, ask yourself the question 'how can you demonstrate compliance'if you cannot, its like turning a blind eye
Roundtuit  
#13 Posted : 06 May 2020 20:24:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Is there contractual control beyond the gate or outside of working hours?

168 hours in a week and typically only 40 paid.

Roundtuit  
#14 Posted : 06 May 2020 20:24:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Is there contractual control beyond the gate or outside of working hours?

168 hours in a week and typically only 40 paid.

A Kurdziel  
#15 Posted : 07 May 2020 10:05:37(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Firstly the 2 m rule is guidance only (in Wales it seems to be different). It is not a magic number. The virus has not read the guidance and does not know it has to remain at least 2 m from people. Some countries such as Belgium have adopted 1.5 m as their safe distance despite having the same virus as the rest of us. There is some evidence that the virus if coughed up, can travel upto 8 m, but it was decided(I’ll have to check by whom) that  2 m was the optimum distance on the grounds that less than that would be likely to be ineffective while more than that would be difficult to maintain, unless we literally locked everybody up. All this guidance was intended for people during the lockdown to stop the spread but in work situations you will need to get closer than 2 m. If you have to do a team lift what then? Break the 2 m rule of try to get one person to move it by themselves and risk serious injury. The aim of the lockdown was to limit the spread of the disease to vulnerable people and to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. This does seem to have worked. Remember early on the modelling suggested that if nothing was done upto 200 000 could have died. See this piece for an alternative look https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52543692

As someone has said, if we try too hard to impose things like the 2 m rule what happens when the rule is relaxed, as it will have to be at some point.

N Hancock  
#16 Posted : 07 May 2020 10:30:28(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
N Hancock

I would argue its a HR matter, I will be reminding people in a nice way but keeping 2m is impossible - lets not pretend that it is.

Brian Hagyard  
#17 Posted : 07 May 2020 13:15:30(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Brian Hagyard

It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

Iam sure everyone is familure with this as its the opening line of scetion 2 of HASAW. The HSE dont need specific legislation on social distancing they can use section 2 - but your right its still so far as is reasonably practicable its not an absolute - and the 2m may change.

While the staff may be on a break as its your canteen i think you are responsible for the site - however i also think that you have taken reasonable steps from your description.

Can you take action against staff for not following rules - yes you can just like any workplace rule - but definatly get HR advice on how you do that.

declangibney  
#18 Posted : 07 May 2020 15:07:27(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
declangibney

Employees also have a legal duty of care as we all know - to take reasonable care of their own safety and the safety of those affected by their acts or omissions. I dont see any need for specific Regs to use the general legislation and I would consider a legal breach by an employee as a disciplinary matter. Gross miscoduct? You decide, communicate and enact.

peter gotch  
#19 Posted : 08 May 2020 12:15:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Craig, have you asked some WHY they don't want to comply?

Does the same rule apply in the boss' office? ....and when they drive home (if they drive).

Usually there is some reason why people decide to break the rules. It's like all those incident investigation reports which manage to blame the injured party or their immediate colleague. Did the injured person really want to get injured, or did their colleague want them to get injured. Probably not. Look beyond the front line to what is happening at management level. 

Did you involve the front line workforce in establishing the rules? Much more likely to abide with them if they are the owners.

EdMudman  
#20 Posted : 08 May 2020 13:18:31(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
EdMudman

This sounds like a HR issue primarily, gross insubordination, failure to comply with a fair order or instruction that the giver is entitled to give (something like that, I don't have the correct wording with me and it's years since I had to break out The Big Stick). But if your company issues a directive aimed at protecting its workers and they choose to ignore that, then i'd be going down the verbal warning, written warning route.

matelot1965  
#21 Posted : 17 May 2020 17:11:13(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
matelot1965

Originally Posted by: declangibney Go to Quoted Post

Employees also have a legal duty of care as we all know - to take reasonable care of their own safety and the safety of those affected by their acts or omissions. I dont see any need for specific Regs to use the general legislation and I would consider a legal breach by an employee as a disciplinary matter. Gross miscoduct? You decide, communicate and enact.

Spot on IMHO. - Not following company H+S policy/procedures - gross misconduct

Edited by user 17 May 2020 17:12:54(UTC)  | Reason: Omission

Roundtuit  
#22 Posted : 17 May 2020 19:43:54(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Originally Posted by: matelot1965 Go to Quoted Post
Not following company H+S policy/procedures - gross misconduct

Better start practicing "tuggin' fore-lock t'mill-master".

Policy and procedures should be balanced, commensurate to risk and based upon best available knowledge.

With Covid-19 we have a perfect storm of the blind leading the blind, media (including Social) hysteria and a nation more used to cut, copy & paste rather than any genuine original thought.

These forums and many others are desparate for specific definitive dogma which can be blindly followed on the assumption that if you are "monkey see, monkey do" you will not be be doing anything wrong.

The various monkeys are recommending / not recommending and even advising against....... so how does a policy based upon "guidance" become Gross Miss-conduct?

thanks 4 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Wailes900134 on 17/05/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 18/05/2020(UTC), Wailes900134 on 17/05/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 18/05/2020(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#23 Posted : 17 May 2020 19:43:54(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Originally Posted by: matelot1965 Go to Quoted Post
Not following company H+S policy/procedures - gross misconduct

Better start practicing "tuggin' fore-lock t'mill-master".

Policy and procedures should be balanced, commensurate to risk and based upon best available knowledge.

With Covid-19 we have a perfect storm of the blind leading the blind, media (including Social) hysteria and a nation more used to cut, copy & paste rather than any genuine original thought.

These forums and many others are desparate for specific definitive dogma which can be blindly followed on the assumption that if you are "monkey see, monkey do" you will not be be doing anything wrong.

The various monkeys are recommending / not recommending and even advising against....... so how does a policy based upon "guidance" become Gross Miss-conduct?

thanks 4 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Wailes900134 on 17/05/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 18/05/2020(UTC), Wailes900134 on 17/05/2020(UTC), A Kurdziel on 18/05/2020(UTC)
matelot1965  
#24 Posted : 17 May 2020 22:34:22(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
matelot1965

Originally Posted by: Roundtuit Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: matelot1965 Go to Quoted Post
Not following company H+S policy/procedures - gross misconduct

Better start practicing "tuggin' fore-lock t'mill-master".

Policy and procedures should be balanced, commensurate to risk and based upon best available knowledge.

With Covid-19 we have a perfect storm of the blind leading the blind, media (including Social) hysteria and a nation more used to cut, copy & paste rather than any genuine original thought.

These forums and many others are desparate for specific definitive dogma which can be blindly followed on the assumption that if you are "monkey see, monkey do" you will not be be doing anything wrong.

The various monkeys are recommending / not recommending and even advising against....... so how does a policy based upon "guidance" become Gross Miss-conduct?

Ok we will just let people do as they like and not follow any company policy or procedures on the matter. The company sets policy which they believe is commensurate with the risk and based upon best available knowledge as you said yourself. Their policy should be derived from government guidelines based on the scientific evidence available. You therefore follow it. If you don't like it leave before you get the push under gross misconduct. 

Roundtuit  
#25 Posted : 17 May 2020 22:51:31(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Michael Gove insists children should be back in school. Michael Gove admits some may catch Covid-19 as there are no guarantees. School policy dictates absence to be Gross Miss-conduct. We will see the school at the tribunal. P.S. latest PHE text says stay at home until 30 June due to your health condition. Once again HM Gov Ministry of Silly Talks prevails.
Roundtuit  
#26 Posted : 17 May 2020 22:51:31(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Michael Gove insists children should be back in school. Michael Gove admits some may catch Covid-19 as there are no guarantees. School policy dictates absence to be Gross Miss-conduct. We will see the school at the tribunal. P.S. latest PHE text says stay at home until 30 June due to your health condition. Once again HM Gov Ministry of Silly Talks prevails.
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