Union guidance on return to workplaces
by Bernard Harbor

Fórsa has published new guidance for workers who have been working remotely, but may be returning to their workplaces over the coming weeks.


The advice covers the workplace aspects of the Government’s ‘roadmap for reopening society and business,’ which was published earlier this month. And it outlines the State’s guidance on the essential measures that will be required to contain the virus as the economy begins to reopen.


Fórsa and other unions have also insisted that the safety of workers and the people they serve must be protected as staff migrate back to workplaces after working remotely.


This has resulted in an agreed ‘return to work safety protocol,’ which is also summarised in the new Fórsa guidance.


Agreed between unions, employers and the Government at the end of last week, the protocol underpins workers’ safety as staff migrate back to workplaces. It puts the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) at the centre of enforcement guarantees, and insists that employers recognise at least one Covid-19 worker safety representative – and more in larger employments.


In a letter to the union’s branches last week, Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said it was vital that unions ensure that they are “central in the selection of the lead worker representatives for Covid-19 arrangements.”


Kevin said he had raised the need for consultation on the return to public service workplaces in the union-employer-Government forum that agreed the safety arrangements. It’s known as the Labour Employer Economic Forum, or LEEF.


Fórsa has also raised the need to consult on the safety of public service workplaces in a meeting with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), which manages overall public service employment arrangements.


Fórsa officials are now entering detailed discussions on return-to-work arrangements, and the implementation of the safety protocol, in specific sectors and workplaces. The union will be issuing sectoral information to members as it emerges.


Read the Fórsa guidelines HERE.

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