Mandatory Face Masks/Coverings in Royal Mail Group (RM, PFWW, RMSS, RMP&FS, RME, RMF, RMCE etc.) – Medical Exemptions and Compliance:
This LTB follows and should be read in conjunction with LTB 517/21 entitled “Introduction of Mandatory Face Coverings in Royal Mail Group from Tuesday 30 November 2021”.
The Royal Mail Group Executive decided last week that a number of crucially important factors were combining to increase the risk of workforce transmissions and growing infection rates of Covid-19 and as such it was imperative to put in place stricter controls to maintain, as far as is practicable, Covid-Secure and Safe workplaces, maintaining safety standards and protection for the workforce. Royal Mail Group therefore decided to re-introduce ‘Mandatory Face Masks/Coverings’ across the UK, bringing England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from Tuesday 30 November 2021. The main reasons for this were:
- The UK Government announcement on the re-introduction of ‘Mandatory Masks’ in England in certain settings from Tuesday 30 November 2021. (Mandatory Face Masks are already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
- The current Coronavirus/Covid-19 high transmissions and infection rate, now reaching over 50,000 new cases a day on a number of recent occasions.
- Thousands of temporary, casual and agency workers taken on by the company to support the Christmas peak workload, mixing with the permanently employed workforce and potentially increasing transmission risks if controls are not in place.
- The emerging new Covid-19 ‘Omicron 1.1.529’ variant which international experts say is ‘highly infectious’ as case numbers of this variant grow rapidly across the UK.
- The combination of the Covid-19 virus and Flu viruses co-circulating during the winter months.
- Medical experts and scientists along with the Health and Safety Executive, Department of Health and Social Care and many local authorities advising that wearing a face covering can help workers stay safe by reducing the risk of infection.
- The key benefits of face masks/face coverings in the workplace is to prevent the spread of the viral infection and defend the workforce from being pandemic victims of what is an airborne illness, protecting both the wearer and the surrounding people – giving risk reduction from aerosol transmission during exhalation.
- The introduction of mandatory face coverings in all indoor workplaces enhances existing preventative, risk control measures to protect the workforce from Coronavirus/Covid-19. This forms part of the RMG Coronavirus Risk Assessment, which is required under health and safety legislation.
CWU/HQ is supporting the initiative having considered the current and worsening Coronavirus/Covid-19 situation across the UK along with expert scientific and medical advice and recommendations.
Medical and Other Exemptions and Compliance
It has become evident that much confusion and misunderstanding of the ‘Mandatory Face Masks/Coverings’ rules exists across the UK in operational workplaces and units in respect of those employees claiming exemption from the ‘Mandatory Masks’ rule and as such some Units are experiencing non-compliance with the rule and enforcement failures. To address this problem Royal Mail Group HQ have issued a reminder WTLL on 3 December 2021 – (See Copy Attached).
The WTLL states quote; “Royal Mail Group fully accept that some employees will have exemptions to wearing a face covering and some conditions will not be visible. However, to support our duty of care and ensure we are managing risk appropriately as the country faces a new virus strain and significantly higher transmission and infection rates, managers can now request evidence of an exemption without needing to know the medical/other reason. This is required to ensure robust and consistent application of the mandatory wearing of face coverings. Managers can also keep records that employees have met the criteria for the exemption but should not record the specific reason if the employee shares this with the manager. Once confirmed, employees with genuine exemption will be supported and will not be ‘routinely’ asked to provide written evidence.”
Would all Branches, Area Safety Reps, Area IR Reps and Local Unit Reps who have made enquiries regarding this matter please accept this LTB as a response.
Importantly and to reiterate the point; Once confirmed, employees with a legitimate, genuine exemption will be supported and will not be ‘routinely’ asked to provide written evidence.”
Dave Joyce – National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Davie Robertson – Assistant Secretary Processing, Logistics, Parcelforce, International, Quadrant
Mick Kavanagh – Acting Assistant Secretary Outdoor