Since March 2020, the Covid-19 Pandemic has greatly affected every part of society and the economy of Ireland. We have all had to adhere to the strict guidelines put in place by Government. These guidelines were developed based on advice from the National Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
There is obviously a duty of care and onus on employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees. It is recommended to develop a Covid Policy to outline the measures that are actively being taken to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). This can be achieved through good communication and a collaborative approach between employers and employees.
When introducing a Covid Policy, it is advisable to start with a Policy Brief & Purpose. This outlines the need for the policy and states the obligations of both Management and employees in the event of an employee contracting Covid or being medically instructed to self-isolate. It is important that the employees understand that they are requested to follow all these rules diligently to maintain a safe and healthy environment. This demonstrates to them also that you are responding responsibly and transparently to the guidelines in place by the Government while assuring them that their private health and personal data will be treated in a confidential and sensitive way.
Following this, the Scope outlines who this policy applies to which is all employees who physically work in the office(s). It is strongly recommended for all personnel, including those who work remotely, to read this policy to ensure that everyone is responding uniformly to the new measures put in place.
It is then in the Policy Elements that you outline to employees the required actions they should take to protect themselves and their co-workers from a potential coronavirus infection. These can vary depending upon the company and the business it operates but, it can include Sick Leave Arrangements, Work from Home Requests, Travelling/Commuting Measures and General Hygiene Rules.
For additional information on Covid-19 in the workplace, the Work Safely Protocol incorporates the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community and workplaces as issued by NPHET, the Department of Health and Government. It is a collaborative effort led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and involving primarily the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) with significant input by the Department of Health and the HSE. It is a revision of the Return to Work Protocol (published in May 2020) and the updating of the Protocol was also carried out with the social partner members of the Labour Employee Economic Forum (LEEF). www.gov.ie/en/publication/bb7fd-work-safely-protocol/
If you would like further advice and guidance on any of the issues raised here please do not hesitate to get in touch.