Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): creating and maintaining safer workplaces

Guidance for workers and employers on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): creating and maintaining safer workplaces
Advice and compliance

Advice and compliance

Scottish Government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Local Authorities and Police Scotland have issued a joint statement on safe workplaces to set out the position around how responsibilities are split across the regulatory bodies, and the legislative context within which they operate.

Regulators such as Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Food Standards Scotland and others are using the ‘Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce’ model to engage with businesses. This is based on collaborative work to improve compliance, with enforcement action taken as necessary.

The Scottish Government and the regulators will ensure that there is effective advice and guidance in place to support employers meet these obligations.  The aim is that by working together – employers, workers, unions and the regulatory bodies – we can create safe workplaces for all.

Everyone is expected to comply with the guidance issued by the Scottish and UK Governments in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others. It is important that we maintain high levels of compliance across workplaces and workforces at all protection levels within the Strategic Framework. Even at lower levels (0-1) the virus is still prevalent and with more relaxation of restrictions at these levels, it is imperative that all guidance and regulations are diligently followed to maintain public health and safety and reduce transmission of the virus.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 implement the new Strategic Framework.  They were published on 30 October and came into force on 2 November.  They have since been amended and the Scottish Ministers are required to review the Regulations every 3 weeks.

Local Authorities were provided with the power to give directions to businesses under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.  Directions may be given in certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions, as set out in the Regulations.

The Regulations list those businesses that must close (as detailed in this guidance) and also oblige those that are open to follow physical distancing in their premises. 

Where an owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business or the person responsible for providing a service contravenes the Regulations, that person commits an offence.

Local authorities have the power to give directions in certain circumstances where they consider it both necessary and proportionate to manage the incidence or spread of coronavirus.

Workplaces that breach the Regulations[1] will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially fixed penalties. Local Authorities working with the Health and Safety Executive and with the support of Police Scotland, are empowered to issue prohibition notices to require compliance with the Regulations including requiring that an activity ceases.

If prohibition notices are not followed, or fixed penalty notice not accepted, you may also be taken to court with potential for a fine up to the statutory maximum of £10,000.

Community transmission is a significant challenge, we would urge all workers and workplaces to comply with the physical distancing and hygiene guidance, particularly on breaks in the working day.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect is Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy. It is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.

Protect Scotland is an entirely voluntary app that complements part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service. Further information about the contact tracing app for employers, workers and customers is available.  

There is specific advice available for employers on helping staff who need to self-isolate at home.


[1] The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, as amended, and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Directions by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

First published: 15 Dec 2020 Last updated: 4 Mar 2021 -