Q&As

Given the new rules requiring staff in certain settings to wear face coverings, does refusal to wear a face covering when required by law or by the employer (as a result of its risk assessment) amount to misconduct? Who should provide the face covering?

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Published on LexisPSL on 07/10/2020

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Given the new rules requiring staff in certain settings to wear face coverings, does refusal to wear a face covering when required by law or by the employer (as a result of its risk assessment) amount to misconduct? Who should provide the face covering?
  • Face coverings
  • Refusal to wear face covering
  • Provision of face coverings

Face coverings

Face coverings are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) as they:

  1. are generally not manufactured to a recognised standard and not CE marked

  2. do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray. See Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance: Face coverings and face masks at work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance also draws a distinction (see eg, the Visitor economy guide) between:

  1. PPE, including face masks, and

  2. face coverings

The Cabinet Office guidance Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own lists the indoor settings in which a face covering must be worn and also that it is compulsory (from 24 September) for staff to wear a face covering in retail, leisure and hospitality settings.

The provisions relating to the requirement for a member of staff can be found in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/791, reg 3, as ame

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