Union urges social distancing enforcement
by Mehak Dugal

Fórsa has called on employers across the economy to ensure that social distancing is maintained to the greatest possible extent in workplaces, including those where customers and clients must be present to access services.


The union says staff in a number of public and private sector settings have raised concerns about the implementation of adequate social distancing measures, despite HSE appeals for caution in workplaces and elsewhere.


Social distancing has been identified as essential to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The HSE guidelines recommend steps like maintaining a distance of at least two metres between people, refraining from hand-shaking and other forms of close contact, avoiding crowded places, and working from home wherever possible.


In advice to public service employers, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) also points out that, by law, employers must ensure their employees’ health and safety “as far as is reasonably practicable.” 


It urges public service organisations to provide staff with advice on social distancing and encourage them to act to minimise risk. It also recommends the use of remote working, staggered shifts and flexible working hours where possible.


Fórsa has also called for protective equipment to underpin safety in settings where the highest degree of social distancing may not be possible at all times. The union says all employers should provide information to staff and service users, and enforce social distancing measures to the greatest possible extent.


Senior Fórsa officials are in constant liaison with management to ensure that appropriate protective and containment measures are in place.


In its advice to members, the union says: “Members are strongly advised to co-operate with management in its efforts to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services – including when this means doing different things, in different ways, at different times.” 


If you have followed Fórsa/DPER advice and are still encountering problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union HERE.

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