Unite applauds Welsh government for action to strengthen social distancing

Unite, the biggest union in Wales, today (Tuesday 7 April) welcomed the introduction by the Welsh government of new legislation in Wales regarding social distancing during the coronavirus crisis.

Under the new law, employers in Wales now have to put ‘reasonable measures’ in place to ensure two metres distance between workers, with the Welsh government the first within the UK to take such action.

The law – which is not an out-and-out ban on workers being closer than the social distancing guidelines in all workplaces – will be self-policing. Workers, along with their trade unions, will report where there is a failure to put the reasonable measures in place with fines to employers of £60 for the first offence, reducing to £30 if paid within 14 days. Second offences and further breaches will see employers hit with a £120 fine.

Commenting, Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, said:Unite in Wales applauds this move. We have been repeatedly raising our members’ safety concerns during this health crisis, and airing our fears that some employers are not respecting the two metres distance, so it is good that the Welsh government is listening.  

“We hope that employers will understand the intention behind this law and act now to take every possible step to keep workers safe at work, rather than wait to be hit by a fine.

“Unite will work with our members to promote this new law and with employers to ensure that they adhere to these new regulations.”

Howard Beckett, Unite’s assistant general secretary for legal affairs, added: “This law will send a clear signal to bosses that they are now required by law to put their workers’ safety first.  

“Our members are putting themselves on the line to keep public services and businesses functioning during these extraordinary times, so we say to employers, keep them safe, provide them with the protective and sanitation equipment they need, or find yourselves in legal conflict with Unite because we have vowed to do whatever it takes to keep our members safe.”

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