On 30 January 2020, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Since then, our working life as we know it has changed dramatically.

Employers have a Statutory duty of care for their employee’s health and safety and to provide a safe place of work. It is imperative that Employers follow and keep up to date on public health advice as the COVID-19 crisis changes on a daily basis.

  • Corporate HR Ireland have provided some guidance and recommendations for Employers below,
  • Firstly, it is imperative that you keep up to date with Government and Public Health advice.
  • Implement a robust comprehensive COVID-19 policy to include how to return to the workplace safely and effectively, introduce the control measures around COVID-19 i.e., hand washing, social distancing, meetings, seating arrangements etc.
  • Introduce guidelines for Managers to guide them in dealing with all COVID-19 related issues in the workplace.
  • Carry out a comprehensive Risk Assessment for your organisation. Identify and assess any potential hazards and implement proper control measures. These measures should be reviewed regularly. Responsibility should be assigned for these measures to relevant Managers/Employees.
  • As outlined above your COVID-19 policy should include practical measures to ensure all employee’s health and safety:
    • Ensure your workplace has a regular cleaning regime in place.
    • Promote regular and thorough handwashing by everyone.
    • Provide all employees with a kit which includes hand sanitiser, gloves, wipes etc
    • Encourage staff to follow cough and sneeze etiquette and bin tissues immediately.
    • Ensure Social Distancing measures are in place.
    • What to do if Employees become symptomatic or are a close contact.
    • Ensure your organisation has a business continuity plan in place to limit any disruptions due to COVID-19.
  • In the event of school/crèche closures, employers should be proactive and consult with their Staff individually on the impact for them. Reasonable accommodations should be made which may include working from home, working flexible hours, etc.
  • Inform staff regularly on all travel restrictions in place/public health advice.
  • Encourage Staff who are showing symptoms of the virus to contact their Medical Professional immediately, self-isolate and follow public health advice.
  • Review your policies and procedures to ensure they take account of any changes to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions i.e. Annual Leave Policies, Sick leave, Sick pay etc
  • Support remote and flexible working arrangements where possible.
  • Ensure you promote the Employee Assistance Programme and use of same.
  • Communication is key! Communicate with your staff regularly. Utilise different forums – staff reps, emails, circulars, video conferencing.

If you would like further advice and guidance on any of the issues raised here please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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