Safe transport home requirement for employers in Scotland

Under a new Bill being drafted by MPs in Scotland, employers in Scotland could be made to pay for late night workers to get home. This would be enforced by making it a condition of an organisation’s licensing application to local authorities.  

The requirement would apply to all new liquor licences and focus primarily on hospitality workers in setting such as bars, hotels, clubs and restaurants which are open past 11pm. However, it may also be extended to impact some supermarkets and convenience stores who have late opening hours, as well as NHS and social care staff.  

Employers already have a duty of care to their workforce, to safeguard their health and wellbeing. A specific requirement on employers to include a “safe transport home” obligation would extend their duty of care responsibilities. However, some have criticised that it shouldn’t just fall to employers to protect staff during their commute to and from work, particularly when this takes place at night. Instead, many are calling on the government to improve public transport options during unsocial hours, increase taxi services and have a higher police presence on the streets.   

An obligation on organisations to pay for taxis or other forms of transport could be crippling to many who are already struggling with soaring costs and reduced footfall. But, this is not to say that businesses should do nothing. Simple measures like a group chat to allow workers to share their location and let their team know they’re home safe helps identify anyone who may be in trouble. Similarly, a phoneline dedicated specifically to workers who are commuting home, to let them chat to a team member throughout their journey, ensures there is someone who knows of their exact whereabouts in live time. Further considerations may be a carpooling scheme or buddy system, to avoid anyone being alone. 

It’s important to remember that the proposed Bill is still in its draft stages so hasn’t yet been finalised or presented to Parliament. As such, employers don’t need to panic or implement any immediate changes. However, it’s useful to keep track of its development and assess the impact the introduction of such a Bill would have on individual organisations.  

This being said, it’s worth noting that a safe transport home motion has already been passed and applies to a number of councils throughout Scotland, including Edinburgh City Council, Glasgow City Council, East Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Falkirk and Dundee.  

Since the requirement is enforced via liquor licence applications, claims cannot be raised through an employment tribunal for breaching it. However, employees may contact their local council to take enforcement which could, in some cases, lead to the employer’s licence being revoked. Employers might also have to manage grievances being raised by employees about the issue so should ensure they meet all their necessary obligations to avoid this happening. 

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