29 Jun 2022

Engagement with workers on 'phased' return to workplaces urged by Government

Engagement with workers on 'phased' return to workplaces urged by Government

New guidance, published after Ireland eased the vast majority of Covid-19 rules, calls on employers to take a “phased” return to the workplace.

The guidance, published by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, comes after the Government announced the ending of a broad swathe of Covid-19 restrictions earlier this month.

The document says that employers should consult with workers and worker representatives on the phased return to workplaces.

“Some workers may be anxious about the physical return to the workplace and in such instances, the employer should discuss and engage with the individual concerned and endeavour to provide supports where available.

“The Government has also called on employers, in consultation with their employees, to start to develop or finalise their long-term arrangements for blended or remote working and draft legislation has been published to formalise this.”

The document also instructs employers and businesses to continue to follow public health advice in the weeks and months ahead.

“As part of the phased approach to the return to physical workplaces, employers and workers are called upon to be supportive of continued good practices, built up over the past two years, which support a safe working environment for all,” the document, called the Transitional Protocol, notes.

The guidance for employers, the document notes, will continue to be updated and reviewed alongside talks between the Government, trade unions and employer representatives.

“As a phased return to the workplace commences, workers may be particularly concerned about returning to the physical workplace and employers should consult and address concerns where appropriate,” the document notes.

As part of the guidance, the Government is asking employers to keep a Covid-19 response plan in place, as well as maintaining policies and procedures to identify and isolate workers with symptoms of Covid-19.

According to the document: “While the need to maintain a contact log with details of workers and visitors to a workplace has been removed, employers may need to provide attendance information as appropriate in the event the local Department of Public Health has to investigate an outbreak.”

In terms of physical distancing, the guidance notes: “Employers may choose to maintain some of the practices or arrangements that were in place based on the Work Safely Protocol for the period of transition back to office working.

“In meetings, events or training, the continued focus on hand and respiratory etiquette and adequate ventilation are all measures that may continue.”

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