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Urgent Question on guidelines for workplace safety after the lockdown

6 May 2020 (updated on 6 May 2020)


Today, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, Andy McDonald, asked an Urgent Question on guidelines for workplace safety after the lifting of the lockdown.

Paul Scully MP: "guidelines will be published in due course"

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Paul Scully, began by outlining the five tests that the Government will need to be satisfied of before they'll consider it safe to adjust the current measures.

The Minister told the House that the Government is in the process of consulting with businesses, business representative organisations and trade unions on the issue of safer working in a Covid-19 context.

He said:

“We want workers in our country to feel confident that they're returning to a safe workplace. So we're working with Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive, and with 525 stakeholders in total in detail. The vast majority of which are represented across all parts of the United Kingdom.”

The Minister added that this includes nine unions and over 400 businesses.

Mr Scully told the House that his department's guidelines will be published in due course.

Andy McDonald MP: "No workers should have their lives or the lives of their loved ones risked."

The Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, Andy McDonald began by telling the House that in the past week the Government had sent trade unions and businesses seven consultation documents outlining proposals for a return to workplaces.

He told the House that “we all share a common objective of a safe return to work at the appropriate time that protects public health. However when the Government's plans fall short its our duty to say so.”

The Shadow Secretary said:

“Trade Unions were given just 12 hours to respond. The documents were not shared with the Opposition, and the proposals themselves are wholly inadequate. No workers should have their lives or the lives of their loved ones risked simply by going to work. This is a legal right which held true before this crisis and crucially must not be cast aside now.”

Speaking about the contents of the documents, he said:

They present measures to maintain safe workplaces such as hand washing and social distancing as being at the discretion of employers, when in fact they are requirements of the law.”

He added that the Government must make this clear and inform businesses and inform workers and businesses of their respected rights and duties.

The Shadow Secretary also noted that he shares the surprise of trade unions that the documents provide no recommendations on PPE, adding that “workers need to have confidence and trust that the Government has got their back.”

The Minister, Paul Scully, responded by saying that the draft guidelines are an early draft, and there will be opportunity for the Shadow Secretary to feed in, as well as the mentioned 400 businesses and nine trade unions.

Image: Pixabay

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