Remote working made legal requirement in Wales

GMB Union is concerned about “bad employers” exploiting remote working mandate to the detriment of workers.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Working from home is now no longer an option but the law in Wales, where legislation was passed effective December 20, 2021, requiring all employees who are able to do so to work remotely.

The mandate comes as the region, as is the case in countless other countries around the world, contends with the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In announcing the new requirement, a Welsh government representative explained that the “additional measures have been introduced to limit the spread of the virus and protect public health.”

“Further to our long-standing advice for people to work from home wherever possible,” said the representative, “from Monday (December 20), this will now be a legal requirement to work from home unless there is a reasonable excuse not to.

“We expect employers to take all reasonable steps to facilitate home working and provide employees with the support they need.”

The new law states, “No person may leave the place where they are living, or remain away from that place for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services.

“The circumstances are that it is reasonably practicable for the person to work or to provide voluntary or charitable services from the place where they are living.”

Additionally, any eligible employee who breaks the law can be subject to a fine of £60, while employers who do not allow their employees to work from home, where practicable, can be fined anywhere from £1,000 up to a staggering £10,000, and even receive notices of closure.

Union expresses concern about remote working mandate

Despite the government’s rationale, the GMB union nonetheless took issue with the new work-from-home law, expressing concern about “bad employers” potentially exploiting it to “protect themselves from fines by placing liability on workers.”

“There are also further concerns that individuals may be impacted through personal circumstances [and] may be forced from home to work,” the union stated.

Further, GMB senior organiser Kelly Andrews said, “We think this strikes the wrong chord. We have major worries that this could lead to bad employers pressuring their workers to work away from home without a paper trail and place any financial risk on them.

“Those workers are also the most vulnerable and can least afford to take the financial hit. But the truth is, for a lot of families, a £60 fine over Christmas will have a severe financial impact.”

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