Employees in Wales who go into work when they could work from home will receive a £60 fine, while their employers could be hit with a £1,000 penalty if they break the rule.
“Further to our long-standing advice for people to work from home wherever possible, from Monday this will now be a legal requirement to work from home unless there is a reasonable excuse not to,” a Welsh government spokesperson said.
“Additional measures have been introduced to limit the spread of the virus and protect public health.”
According to revised regulations published on Saturday, workers will receive a fixed penalty notice if they choose to go into their place of work when they could work remotely – a move that union GMB said would impact “the poorest, most vulnerable workers”.
Employers who breach the rule could receive improvement or closure notices for their premises, and potentially be liable for up to £10,000 in fines.
The Welsh branch of the TUC expressed concern that it had not been consulted over the decision, which it said would penalise workers.
Wales TUC general secretary Shavanah Taj said: “A worker is not responsible for their place of work, their employer is.
“This sets a really worrying precedent that the responsibility is somehow shared, and is at best naïve. We hope the Welsh government urgently repeals this to remove the fine on workers.”
The Welsh government will decide today whether to introduce harsher restrictions to stem the transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. It has already banned spectators from indoor and outdoor professional and community sporting events.
Taj added that the workforce impact of such decisions had been “forgotten”.
“The decision to stop live sports events at short notice with no mention of the workforce shows a real failure to consider the people that staff these events who will now lose their shifts – and most likely their pay – just days before Christmas,” she said.
“While we recognise the main failing here is the UK government’s decision to not reinstate the furlough and [self employment] schemes, we again urge government to put financial support in place for the nightclubs and sports events workers who are likely to be laid off as a result of decisions taken by the Welsh government.”
Yesterday chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £1bn fund of cash grants to support employers in the leisure, culture and hospitality sectors who have been impacted by cancellations and a drop in business due to the surge in cases.
Small employers can also now receive help with the cost of statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences.