From 6 April 2022, the duty to provide free personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers, as opposed to just employees, comes into effect with the introduction of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

The regulations define PPE as all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work, and which protects the person against one or more risks to that person’s health and safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective.

This extension of the duty means that any casual workers who are not employed are now covered by the regulations. These workers are sometimes referred to as limb (b) workers because, under section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the term ‘“worker” covers any “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.

Limb (b) workers include those who:

  • Carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations
  • After one 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 in that they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly.

As the Health and Safety Executive points out, however, it is not always easy to be sure of the precise status of a worker. As every employment relationship is specific to the individual and employer, it can ultimately only be determined by a court or tribunal, as LELR readers will know.

At the same time as extending these rights to all workers, however, the government announced that, from 1 April 2022, it has removed the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments unless they work specifically with the virus, such as in laboratories.

To read the new regulations in full, go to: