Covid19 – Who is responsible for the health and safety of PAYE temps?

Whether workers have been working throughout the pandemic or are now beginning to return to the workplace, maintaining health and safety is of crucial importance. Government has issued specific guidance that employers should follow to ensure safety in the workplace, but who is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of a PAYE temp?

Under health and safety law, all businesses have responsibility for their own premises, systems of work and equipment. This responsibility extends to non-employees and visitors to its premises or those using its equipment. An accident or injury on site will usually be a matter for the person controlling the site, normally the hirer. Employers also have a general responsibility for the health and safety of their employees even when they are working elsewhere. A PAYE temp is not the employee of an employment business, nor would the employment business generally have any responsibility for the premises, systems or equipment used by the temporary worker.

However, this does not mean that employment businesses shouldn’t be concerned with health and safety.  The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (‘Conduct Regulations’) include specific provisions relating to health and safety, obliging an employment business to  obtain information from a hirer as regards any risks to health and safety, along with the steps taken to address these risks and to pass on the same information to the temporary worker. They must also take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the supply arrangement would not be detrimental to either the hirer or work seeker.

Obtaining information relating to health and safety risks and the steps taken to address these is very often overlooked but, in the current circumstances, it is essential, as is passing on the information to the candidate. The information may differ from role to role and hirer to hirer and might include information relating to work locations and processes, social distancing, or could be all within a hirers internal policies or communications. It may also be advisable to remind temporary workers of the need to follow both government and site/hirer guidelines and not to attend work in the event that they have symptoms or are required to isolate.

Whilst this represents the statutory position on health and safety responsibilities, as with all such arrangements, care should be taken as to whether the position is altered by contract, specifically whether responsibilities are included within the contract or indemnities have been provided.

As recruitment law specialists Lawspeed can assist with queries in respect of the Conduct Regulations, relationships with hirer and/or contractual terms. Contact the Lawspeed contracts and compliance team on 01273 236 236 or