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Could face masks become mandatory in the workplace?

face mask workplace

Face masks will be mandatory in France from September 1.

They will have to be worn in all shared spaces where more than one worker is present, including offices and factories.

This news comes following a surge in coronavirus cases, leading many UK HR professionals to wonder: will our country follow suit?

What has the UK Government said so far?

While face masks are now compulsory for customers in shops and for those travelling on public transport, it seems that there won’t be any action to enforce it within the workplace in the near future.

The latest news from the Health Secretary Matt Hancock is that the Government is currently not considering making face masks compulsory in offices and workplaces.

The Health Secretary stated: “We constantly look at scientific advice and the answer here is that we are not currently considering doing that. The evidence from NHS Test and Trace for where people catch the disease is that, very largely, they catch it from one household meeting another household, usually in one of their homes.”

He added: “The amount of people who have caught it in workplaces is relatively low, we think, from the evidence we’ve got.”

What about other areas of life?

One interesting indication of the potential destination of travel for face coverings has come this week from schools.

Initially, Boris Johnson ruled out asking pupils in England to wear masks.

Then, in what the media has labelled a U-turn, the Government said secondary school children must cover their faces in communal areas if they live in a location affected by a local lockdown.

It came soon after Nicola Sturgeon put this policy into effect for Scotland.

With this turnaround happening so fast for schools, could the same happen with workplaces?

What’s next?

While the current stance of the Government is that mandatory face masks within the office aren’t on the horizon, it seems unwise to completely rule out the possibility of this being later enforced.

As we see continuous local lockdowns and infection spikes in various areas, a huge amount of uncertainty remains for employers.

Many will be continuing to wrestle with the question of whether opening their office is the best course of action or if home working should remain the norm.

Regardless, you must be ready to alter your HR processes if the Government chooses to enforce face masks at a later date.

How can IRIS Cascade help?

Should face masks be made mandatory in the workplace, our solution, IRIS Cascade, allows you to quickly update your return to work process in line with the changes.

We also offer a wide range of features, including automating tasks, absence tracking, asset management, and much more.

For more information on IRIS Cascade and to book your demo, click here.

 If you’re looking for more insights into the role HR will play in helping businesses meet the demands of the next normal, download our comprehensive guide here.

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