Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 22nd September 2020, an amendment has been passed to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.
Regulation 2 amends existing legislation on face coverings to make it clear that workers in the places listed in Schedule 3 must wear masks. These include:
- shop workers
- shopping centres
- restaurants and bars
There is still the same reasonable excuse exception as existed for other obligations to wear a face mask (for example, because of disability or where wearing a mask would cause severe distress).
The Regulations make it clear that it is the employee/worker who is committing an offence, if found in breach, who is liable to pay the £200 fine, not the employer.
Employers in the above affected industries should ensure that staff are aware of new rules AND the consequences of failing to follow them. An open dialogue, when considering any ‘reasonable excuses’ exceptions put forward by employees, is a vital step to demonstrate reasonable implementation of the new rules and avoid potential claims for disability discrimination. Clear contemporaneous notes of all conversations with employees on this issue should be kept.