Important changes to the PPE at Work Regs come into effect on the 6th April 2022. The change extends to limb (b) workers (those who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service), although the changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self employed’ status.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 2022 amend the 1992 Regulations to extend employers’ and employees’ duties in respect of PPE to a wider group of workers.
What this means for employers
PPER 1992 places a duty on every employer in Great Britain to ensure that suitable PPE is provided to ‘employees’ who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.
PPER 2022 extends this duty to limb (b) workers and comes into force on 6 April 2022. Employers need to carefully consider whether the change to UK law applies to them and their workforce and make the necessary preparations to comply.
What this means for limb (b) workers:
If a risk assessment indicates that a limb (b) worker requires PPE to carry out their work activities, the employer must carry out a PPE suitability assessment and provide the PPE free of charge as they do for employees.
The employer will be responsible for the maintenance, storage and replacement of any PPE they provide. The limb (b) worker will be required to use the PPE properly following training and instruction from the employer. If the PPE provided is lost or becomes defective, the worker should report this to their employer.
Definitions of limb (a) and limb (b) workers
In the UK, section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996’s definition of a worker has 2 limbs:
Limb (a) describes those with a contract of employment. This group are employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and are already in scope of PPER 1992.
Limb (b) describes workers who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service – they do not currently come under the scope of PPER 1992.
PPER 2022 draws on this definition of worker and captures both employees and limb (b) workers:
‘“worker” means ‘an individual who has entered into or works under –
(a) a contract of employment; or
(b) any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract whose status is not by virtue of the contract that of a client or customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by the individual;
and any references to a worker’s contract shall be construed accordingly.’
General duties of limb (b) workers
Generally, workers who come under limb (b):
carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations after 1 month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice, only carry out work if they choose to have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting) are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly).
As every employment relationship will be specific to the individual and employer, the precise status of any worker can ultimately only be determined by a court or tribunal.
Please note: These changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.