From 6th April 2022, regulations relating to the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (‘PPE’) will be extended to cover workers as well as employees, placing responsibility on agencies for ensuring that appropriate PPE is provided to workers free of charge.
Changes to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 will mean that, from April, businesses must ensure that all workers, including PAYE agency workers, engaged by them are provided with suitable PPE, free of charge. PPE is defined as being any equipment that protects its user against health and safety risks at work and can include things such as, helmets, gloves, eye protection, hi-vis clothing, safety boots and harnesses, it also includes respiratory protective equipment. There is also a requirement to ensure that workers are appropriately trained in the use of any PPE provided and that it is properly maintained and stored. The new rules will not apply to those who are genuinely self-employed, who will remain responsible for providing their own PPE. For PSC and umbrella contractors the responsibility should fall on the PSC or umbrella, as the party who has an employee or worker relationship with the individual.
These rule changes are likely to pose practical difficulties for agencies when supplying PAYE temps or employees. The obligation to ensure that PPE is provided rests with the agency, rather than the party for whom the work is carried out. However, practically, in most cases it will be the hirer client, rather than the agency, who will assess risk, determine whether PPE is required, monitor its use etc. In many cases this will not pose a problem as many hirers will, in practice, provide temporary agency workers with the same access to PPE as their employees, but this may not always be the case, for example, where hirers have historically expected agency workers to provide their own PPE.
Agencies will no longer be able to require that PAYE temps provide their own PPE for assignments. The agency, as the party engaging the worker, will have a statutory duty to ensure that this is provided either by themselves or another party. This will be the case even for very short-term assignments. Some hirers may therefore expect that the agency should bear the cost of providing PPE for their temporary workers. Responsibility for PPE is therefore something that should be addressed in contracts with hirers.
Further guidance on how agencies should deal with the new regulations is expected shortly. In the meantime, it is important that agencies review their contractual arrangements with hirers and ensure that they have appropriate provisions in place that clearly set out the responsibilities for health and safety including carrying out risk assessments and the provision and use of PPE.
Lawspeed can help with advice and ensuring that your contracts offer sufficient protection.
Peter Lappin is Senior Legal Consultant at the recruitment and employment law specialists Lawspeed.
Lawspeed group corporate clients benefit from immediate up to date advice on staff engagement and related regulation; employment status; client, IR35, PAYE and umbrella contract templates; contract review/negotiation; self-employment and CIS contract templates; trade membership and government representation; accreditation services and a state of the art digital contract management platform