The TUC has penned a letter to ministers, urging them to consult with employers and unions about safety measures linked to the return to work.
Reacting to the announcement that employees in England will be permitted to return to offices from the 19th July, the TUC has raised urgent concerns about back-to-work safety plans.
The TUC stated that the Government is refusing to consult with unions and employers on the latest guidance that will “affect millions of working people”.
Although the new guidance linked to the return to offices is expected to be published imminently before restrictions are lifted, the union body worries that this will be “vague” and cause widespread confusion.
As of present, the Government have announced that wearing face coverings will become a “personal responsibility”.
The 1M rule of social distancing is also set to be removed in England, subject to a review of the latest data on the 12th July.
The TUC have called the Government’s decision not to consult with unions and employers before putting these rules into place a “worrying development”.
In particular, it highlighted that in May 2020, unions and employers were given the opportunity to scrutinise the guidance highlighting safety protocol in the event of a return to work.
It also stated they were allowed to press for changes, something which was not permitted this time around.
The union body suggested that removing safety measures such as masks and social distancing could put vulnerable members of staff including workers who may be immune-suppressed, pregnant, or not yet double-vaccinated at risk of catching the virus.
General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, argued the Government needed to put clear guidance that applies to all workplaces in a sector into place:
As restrictions are lifted and increasing numbers return to their workplaces, it is crucial that we get workplace safety right, and give workers and members of the public confidence.
This is how we get the country up and running again – not hobbled by rising infections and enforced` self-isolation taking workers out of workplaces.
The TUC has real fears that clear, detailed guidance for employers will be replaced by vague exhortations to employers to do the right thing, resulting in confusion.
Government must not offload its responsibility to consult on guidelines to protect the health and safety of workers.
And it must not gamble the safety of key workers, from bus drivers to supermarket staff, on an individual customer’s sense of personal responsibility.