Forsa has called for public health regulations on mandatory face coverings to be urgently updated to include Department of Social Protection (DSP) public offices.
Face coverings are not currently mandatory in DSP public offices, and a number of Covid-19 clusters have been reported in Intreo offices over the last fortnight. Banks, credit unions and post offices have been added to the list of workplaces where face coverings are mandatory
Intreo centres (IC) are currently open to the public, with approximately half of all DSP staff working in frontline and other office-based roles.
In a letter to health minister Stephen Donnelly, the head of Fórsa’s Civil Service Division, Derek Mullen, highlighted the increased risk to DSP workers.
“As recently as March 31st a customer attended an IC with legislation in hand advising that they were not required to wear a face covering. The recent clusters, despite the Return to Work Safely Protocol being adhered to, are of serious concern to staff as is the fear of our members in ICs being targeted for requesting customers to wear face coverings without the protection of regulations to do so,” he said.
Separately, the union has raised concerns over the Government decision to move away from occupational to age based vaccination, once the elderly and vulnerable have been vaccinated.
“We are requesting that Government reconsider this decision and reinstate occupational vaccination as it is based on the risk of contracting the virus. In our view it makes little sense to vaccinate those at lower risk of contracting the virus ahead of frontline staff that are at higher risk,” said Derek.
Fórsa is awaiting a response from the minister.