What should an employer do if an employee does not comply with social distancing or hygiene measures at work?
Employers are entitled to take disciplinary action against employees who refuse or fail to comply with social distancing or hygiene measures put in place to prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace. This is provided that the measures are reasonable and the employer has given clear instructions to employees about what they are required to do and the importance of following the measures. Employers should inform employees that a failure to comply with the measures may be an act of gross misconduct that could lead to dismissal.
It may be appropriate for the employer to deal informally with a minor failure to follow the health and safety procedures, depending on the circumstances. Otherwise, the employer should follow its usual disciplinary procedures, investigate the circumstances, and give the employee the chance to explain what happened. Provided that it follows a fair procedure, an employer may be justified in dismissing an employee who repeatedly refuses or fails to comply with its "COVID-19 secure" measures, or where a one-off failure is particularly serious.