WHO criterion 4: Preventive measures are established in workplaces, with physical distancing, handwashing facilities and respiratory etiquette in place, and potentially thermal monitoring.
We have been clear that our economic restart and recovery must be achieved safely and must be built around three pillars:
- Successful measures to suppress the virus;
- Guidance that promotes Fair and Safe workplaces and sectors; and
- The right structures for workplace regulation.
Legislation and Regulation
Scottish Ministers have power under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 ("the Regulations"), to issue guidance on measures which should be taken in order to minimise the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus. Statutory guidance published on 14 August 2020 has been issued under this regulation. Businesses operating in the hospitality sector are required by law to have regard to this. Failure to have regard to its terms is a matter likely to be taken into account should it become necessary to take enforcement action under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Direction by Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
This regulation permits Local Authority officers to impose prohibitions, requirements or restrictions on a business, so long as they are a proportionate means of achieving the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection by coronavirus in the local authority's area. Statutory Guidance for use of these powers was published on 1 September 2020 and is based on Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce (the 4 Es) approach.
Officials continue to work with the wider health and safety community in Scotland, and specifically with Scottish Hazards around extending access to trustworthy information and advice on addressing the COVID-19 threat in the workplace.
The Scottish Government has issued a joint statement with HSE, local authorities and Police Scotland that sets out the importance of safe working, of the role of the regulators and the importance of engaging the workforce and trade unions in undertaking risk assessments and putting in place means of safe working.
We continue to work with industry, trade unions, regulators, local authorities and others, including equality organisations to develop sectoral guidance on safe working. This is in addition to workplace guidance developed by the UK Government and HSE.
We have already published guidance across around 30 sectors and continue to publish and update guidance based on policy changes, the latest public health advice and feedback from regulators.
This has included:
- updated guidance across sectors and locations to reflect the temporary targeted measures put in place between 9 October and 25 October
- work to introduce regulations to extend the mandatory use of face covering in indoor communal settings
- from 10 October, shops across Scotland were asked to return to 2 metre physical distancing and reintroduce the mitigations put in place earlier in the pandemic
- publication of soft play guidance
Work is underway across all sectors to review – and where necessary refine – guidance and regulation on operating practices
Non-essential offices working group
We continue to work with partners including the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and STUC on a plan for a limited and phased return to office working. Since this work started the context with regard COVID-19 has deteriorated. We continue to keep this under review but are clear a phased return will only commence when it is deemed safe, given broader progress in tackling the epidemic in Scotland.
Home working and Fair Work
While many workplaces have reopened, we are clear that working from home and working flexibly remain the default.
We have strengthened already published guidance to reinforce this message and to support employers and the self-employed with the continuation of homeworking. It has been developed to complement the suite of COVID-19 related guidance on safer workplaces and can be applied across any sector where homeworking is a feasible option for both workers and businesses.
In March we published a statement of Fair Work Principles, setting out our commitment to ensure fair work was at the centre of our national response to COVID-19 during lockdown. On 19 July we issued a new statement with organisations including the Institute of Directors, SCDI, STUC, COSLA and SCVO underlining the continued collaborative approach needed between employers, unions and workers to ensure workplaces can operate safely.
We are taking forward work to finalise a strategic framework, setting out the different levels of intervention which can be adopted in future – either locally or across Scotland – depending on how the virus is spreading. It is hoped to align the broad framework with those being considered by other UK nations – although each nation will take its own decisions on implementation.
On the basis of the evidence summarised above, the assessment is that this criterion has been met at this review point.