Official advice on the phased ‘return to workplaces,’ which was published yesterday (7th September), underlines the requirement for employers to consult with staff and worker safety representatives in advance of its 20th September commencement.
And it stresses that the move should “take place in a cautious and careful manner,” and take account of a revised Work Safely Protocol, which was also issued late yesterday.
The guidance, agreed by the Labour-Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) which includes high-level union, employer and Government representatives, strongly advises the use of staggered arrangements like “non-fulltime attendance and flexible working hours.” It also reminds employers that workplace attendance is only advised for “specific business requirements.”
The guidance reminds employers that workplace attendance is only advised for “specific business requirements.”
The guidance note says current advice – that people should work at home unless it’s necessary to attend their work premises in person – remains in place until 20th September.
It calls upon employers to actively engage with workers and ‘lead worker safety representatives’ “to carefully consider how a return to in-person attendance in the workplace can safely take place.”
“Vigilance will still be required as the risks posed by Covid-19 remain. We continue to see a high level of Covid-19 in the community. This must be taken into account as individual businesses and their workers progress their plans for the return to the workplace in the months ahead,” it says.
The note highlights new Health and Safety Authority (HSA) checklists, on ventilation, rapid antigen testing and returning to the office.
The note highlights new Health and Safety Authority (HSA) checklists, on ventilation, rapid antigen testing and returning to the office. It says the specific HSA checklist on returning to the office is based on a revised and detailed work safety protocol, agreed by the LEEF, which “should be the basis for discussions between employers and workers.”
The revised workplace safety protocol continues to stress the requirement for staff to work from home as much as possible in the period between 20th September and the proposed removal of most public health restrictions from 22nd October.
From then, it says “the requirement to work from home will be removed, allowing a return to physical attendance in workplaces on a phased and cautious basis appropriate to each sector.”
It adds that further engagement will take place between Government, trade unions and employer representatives to produce public health guidance for the post 22nd October period. And it calls on employers to consult with workers to develop longer-term arrangements for blended or remote working.
Read the official guidance HERE.
Read about the revised workplace safety protocol HERE.
Read the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) checklists HERE.