Updated Guidance Note on the Work Safely Protocol
An updated Guidance Note has been issued from the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) – Consultative Group on the Work Safely Protocol.
The Government, taking into account the latest public health advice, has decided that, with effect from midnight on Thursday 18 November, everyone should return to working from home, unless it is necessary to attend the workplace in person.
This new guidance marks a return to the situation as it applied prior to the phased return to the workplace which started on 20 September.
The guidance reflects the importance of us all, where possible, reducing our number of contacts. The phased return to the workplace has, in recent months, led to an increase in contacts both directly, in the workplace, and indirectly, while travelling to/from the workplace and taking part in linked social activities.
Working from home, unless necessary to attend in person, will result in a reduced level of contacts helping prevent the spread of COVID–19 and supporting efforts to minimise the wider economic and social impact of restrictions.
In addition to following this new Government guidance, it is critically important that all employers and employees continue to take steps, individually and collectively in their everyday lives, to keep the risk of COVID–19 under control, in particular by:
• acting fast, isolating and getting tested if we have symptoms;
• wearing face coverings where appropriate;
• making sure that indoor spaces are well ventilated;
• maintaining adequate social/physical distancing whenever appropriate; and
• covering our coughs and sneezes and keeping our hands clean.
These are shared responsibilities for us all.
Where attendance in the workplace is necessary, the Work Safely Protocol continues to provide clear and important guidance on Public Health infection prevention and control measures required in every place of work to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID–19.
Collaborative and open engagement between employers and workers, based on the Work Safely Protocol, can ensure that, where attendance in the workplace is necessary, workplaces operate in a manner that prevents the spread of COVID–19.
If concerns arise in the workplace, workers should engage with the employer through the Lead Worker or other representative.
If concerns continue about the implementation of the Work Safely Protocol in any workplace, these can be raised with the Workplace Contact Unit of the Health and Safety Authority (www.hsa.ie). The HSA will review all contacts received by the WCU in relation to the Work Safely Protocol and will follow up as appropriate.
While the responsibility to take the steps necessary to keep the virus under control rests with us all, Government inspectorates will continue to carry out inspections in workplaces to check adherence to the Work Safely Protocol.
Further guidance on other resources and contact points can be found in the Protocol and at Gov.ie/covid.
Employer and trade union representative groups will also be able to provide advice and guidance.
Engagement between Government, trade unions, and employer representatives, under the auspices of the Labour Employer Economic Forum, will continue in relation to guidance required for employers and workers for the period ahead, taking account of the latest public health advice and any further decisions of the Government.
Further proactive communication from Government, including through trade unions and employer representatives, will be undertaken on key public health messages, and the importance of the full application of the Work Safely Protocol in workplaces.
The consultative stakeholder forum, under the aegis of Labour Employer Economic Forum, was established to oversee implementation of the Work Safely Protocol. Members of the Stakeholder Forum are Ibec, CIF, ICTU,
SIPTU, the HSA, the HSE, the Department of Health, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Health, and the Department of Taoiseach.