Public health Covid-19 guidelines were tightened last month, following an increase of coronavirus cases. The new control measures announced on 18th August included limits on both indoor and outdoor gatherings, a restriction on sporting events, and the introduction of a 11.30pm curfew for pubs serving food and restaurants, amongst others.
The HSE has also issued updated advice on cocooning for people who are at very high risk from COVID-19. In addition, workers have been encouraged to work from home where possible, and employers have been asked to facilitate this.
New guidelines issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sets out advice for civil and public sector workers, and stresses that employers will continue to determine which staff must report to their workplaces. This is a reaffirmation of the existing position, and Fórsa continues to advise members to go into work if instructed to do so by their line manager – and to contact the union if they have safety concerns.
Fórsa has now updated its Covid-19 safety advice for members who are returning to work – as well as those who have been in the workplace throughout the crisis.
The union advice reflects recent Government announcements and revised official guidance, and also sets out employers’ responsibilities under the Return to Work Safety Protocol, which was agreed by unions, employers and the Government in early May.
The comprehensive protocol outlines the required safety measures in detail, and says that significant changes to work patterns – designed to facilitate social distancing and other safety measures – must be agreed with worker representatives.
DPER’s current position on home working represents a change in emphasis from earlier official guidance, which was last updated in July when public health restrictions were being eased.
It reflects Government measures announced in August which said staff across the economy should work from home “unless it is absolutely essential for an employee to attend in person.” These measures are in force until 13th September at the earliest, by which time revised guidance is expected.
Contact us if you have safety concerns about your workplace.
Read Fórsa’s advice on returning to work and workplace safety requirements HERE.
It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact the union HERE.