Unite, the GMB and Community trade unions have all said that where masks are believed to be helpful at work, they should be provided employers and workers should not have to foot the bill themselves. Surgical-grade face masks must be provided for all workers who need to wear them including those on the daily commute.
“The government should provide proper masks and finance it. If this can be done in other countries successfully it should be done here,” said Rob Migeul, Unite’s health and safety adviser. The surgical-grade three-layer mask should have a waterproof outer layer, Unite said, inline with the WHO guidelines. “If you’re going to say use face masks, there must be a standard for them,” he said.
Head of research, policy and external relations at Community, Kate Dearden, said: “If employers need their workforce to re-enter the workplace then they need to be providing them with the necessary PPE for all activities related to their work.
A spokesperson for the GMB said: “Most people have no idea about face-mask standards. They should be the WHO backed ones, of three layers. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the mask. Something that explains what employers are meant to do would be beneficial when it comes to protective equipment.”