15 May 2020
The new normal: Workplace health and safety representatives
The government has published new guidance for employers on making workplaces “COVID Secure”. At a time where health and safety in the workplace is more important than ever, the new guidance makes it clear that you need consult your employees about health and safety.
This means that you need to make sure your workplace has a properly appointed health and safety representative. If your workers are members of a trade union, then they may already have selected a health and safety representative. But if they haven’t, you must arrange for your workers to choose their own representative. You can’t decide for them.
You need to think about how many representatives you need, but you will have to appoint at least one under the new guidance. You will need to consider, among other things, the size of your workforce and the level of health and safety risk your employees face, whether from COVID-19 or other sources.
Once you have decided how many representatives you need, you should ask your employees for volunteers as candidates. If more volunteers step forward than you need, you will need to hold a fair and open election. If not enough employees volunteer, then you will still need to offer your employees the opportunity to endorse the volunteers who have come forward. If nobody steps forward at all, you will need to go back to your employees and ask again as the guidance requires you to consult with an employee elected health and safety representative.