- The Government’s COVID-19 national protocol for employers and workers, the Work Safely Protocol, was updated on 16 September 2021 to reflect updated Public Health advice and knowledge. These minor technical updates include the inclusion of new symptoms associated with the Delta variant of COVID-19 and additional information on ventilation and vaccinations. This follows Government publication on 31 August of 'Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting' which sets out the national approach to the further reopening of society from 20 September 2021 in advance of a further planned relaxation of restrictions from 22 October 2021.A key element of 'Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting', is the facilitation of a phased and staggered return to the workplace for specific business requirements with effect from 20 September.
Returning to work
- In February 2022 the HSA has produced a COVID-19 Response Plan template and Good Practice checklists available here. They have been prepared to help employers, business owners and managers to continue running their workplaces safely, and to help workers, in particular the Lead Worker Representative understand what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.The template and checklists have been drafted, based on the Government’s advice and the Transitional Protocol – Good Practice Guidance for Continuing to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
- Given the importance of keeping workplaces safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) established a consultative stakeholder group to oversee the implementation of the Work Safely Protocol. This consultative group published a Returning Safely to the Workplace from 20 September Guidance Note to assist employers and workers to plan for the phased return to the workplace.
- The HSA has published four additional COVID-19 checklists on: Ventilation (Checklist No.8), Returning to the Office (Checklist No.9), and Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests (Checklists No.10 and 10a) to help employers, managers and workers plan their return to the workplace safely. The Returning to the Office checklist should form the basis for discussion between employers and employees, with the support of Lead Worker Representatives, to ensure that all practical steps are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The full range of updated HSA COVID-19 checklists, templates and posters can be found here.
Update to the Work Safely Protocols
The updated document is available for download here
The governments road map to reopening Ireland.
The Government has agreed Ireland’s plan for the next and final phase of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic COVID-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting.
Over 88 percent of the population over 18 are fully vaccinated, with almost 92 percent of adults (aged 18 and over) having received at least 1 dose. Subject to the continuation of this progress, they say we will enter a final phase on 22 October, which is likely to last until at least next Spring. This phase will see the majority of restrictions lifted and replaced by guidance and advice to enable us to work together to protect ourselves and to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.
They will need to continue to monitor the ongoing risk from the disease and take steps individually and collectively in our everyday lives to keep this risk under control.
The government has agreed that during the period between 1 September and 22 October, we will continue our careful and gradual approach to reopening, while supporting maximum reach of the vaccine programme and allowing time to achieve the full benefits for all those currently being vaccinated.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published interim guidance on its website to assist employers to manage workers’ return to work following COVID-19-related absence. It sets out the steps involved in determining/assessing Fitness for Work of any employee, after an absence due to COVID-19 Infection or suspected infection. The Guidance can be considered within existing sickness and absence management procedures and policies. It applies to Non-Healthcare workers and specific guidance for Healthcare workers can be found here. The HSA has also published Guidance for Workers returning to work after COVID-19 absence. Read more here
Returning to work templates are available in the Member Area HERE:
Employers have a duty of care for all employees under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and must give due consideration if it is safe to ask employees to travel to work (consider public transport with a virus), or to undertake their work. It is imperative that an appropriate Risk Assessment is conducted to ensure that management makes an informed decision and that no employee’s Safety is put at risk unnecessarily. Members can access assessments here.
Download the guidelines from Fáilte Ireland for re-opening for your sector:
- Download an overview of guidelines for re-opening for all sectors [pdf, 5mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening hotels and guesthouses (V1.2) [pdf, 8.7mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening B&Bs and historic houses (V1.1) [pdf, 5.6mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening self catering (V1.1) [pdf, 5.6mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening restaurants and cafes (V1.2) [pdf, 4.8mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening caravan and camping parks (V1.1) [pdf, 5.4mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening visitor attractions (V1.1) [pdf, 5.7mb]
- Download the guidelines for re-opening activity providers (V1.1) [pdf, 6.1mb]
The Department of Health has developed social distancing graphics to help you maintain distance in your premises. You can download them for free HERE
The Health and Safety Authority have published checklists and templates to help employers, business owners and managers get their business up and running again. Available HERE
· NSAI guidance on workplace improvement and protection, HERE
· The National protocols on returning to work, HERE
· HSA guidance on COVID-19 and the workplace HERE
· ISME Employee Declaration template HERE
· ISME COVID-19 Risk Assessment template HERE
Financial support for your business is available here
Find out how your business can apply for a new 'Restart Grant' from your local authority to help with the cost of re-opening after Covid-19. Grants of between €2,000 - €10,000 are available.
Q&A addressing concerns regarding returning to work post COVID-19.
- Neil McDonnell, ISME CEO
- Cait Lynch, ISME HR Advisor
- Yvonne Mullooly, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Chemicals and Prevention Division, Health and Safety Authority.