Welsh trade unions have condemned Covid fines for workers introduced by the Welsh Government this week.

Employees could be fined £60 if they’re caught travelling into work when they could be working from home.

Calling the policy “worrying”, unions said they were neither consulted about the fines nor made aware of them until the government announced new Covid measures this weekend.

General Secretary of the Wales Trades Union Congress, 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 Welsh Government urgently repeals this to remove the fine on workers.”

Kelly Andrews, a senior organiser with GMB Union, agreed.

The measure is the “wrong call”, she said, adding that the financial hit of a fine over Christmas would be “severe” for workers on a budget.

“Let’s face it, there are plenty of bad employers who force their workers from home but ensure there’s no paper trail.

“We shouldn’t be targeting the poorest and most vulnerable with these measures.”

The Welsh Government said it expects enforcement to be "proportionate", and in updated guidance published this week, acknowledged that the risk of spreading coronavirus should be balanced against "the detrimental effect working from home may be having on an employee’s wellbeing".

"In these circumstances if employees in this position can return to the workplace setting without a significant increase in the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be allowed," the guidance reads.

The Welsh Government said its latest measures have been introduced "to limit the spread of the virus and protect public health".

A spokesman added: “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. We expect employers to take all reasonable steps to facilitate home working and provide employees with the support they need.”

The new laws also apply to people who live in Wales but normally work in England.

The Welsh Government spokesman said: “For all those who live in Wales, Welsh law applies and this provision must be complied with regardless of whether they work in England.

"However, there is an exception to the rule if it not reasonably practicable to work from home, and if an employer in England has a good reason for requiring people to be present in the workplace this is likely to apply.” 

Additional reporting by Nick Thomas.

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