Staff advised to attend work if in doubt

Tuesday 24th March

Fórsa’s advice to its members about reporting for work is unchanged pending clarification from employers about what constitutes ‘essential’ work and work able to be done at home.

Following this afternoon’s Government announcement, which included restrictions on “unnecessary travel,” the union is also seeking guidance on the position of staff who depend on public transport to get to work.

The union contacted the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), this afternoon (24th March) and got an assurance that new guidance for staff and managers would issue in the next couple of days. DPER is responsible for industrial relations issues across the civil and public service.

Fórsa has also sought guidance from public service employers including the HSE, the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and various State departments.

Speaking this afternoon, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recommended new measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He urged people not to go to work if they could work from home, or if their attendance at the workplace was not essential. And he said there should be no unnecessary travel.

But official bodies have yet to say what this means in specific cases.

Fórsa is advising its members to await guidance from their employers. Otherwise they may lose pay if they fail to report for work.

The union is seeking a clear and consistent indication of which staff should attend work as essential workers. In the meantime, it is urging members to strictly follow HSE advice on protecting themselves and others from the coronavirus.

Regarding attendance at work, the union’s current advice is that staff should report for work unless:

  • They have been told not to attend work by their manager or HR department
  • Remote working arrangements have been put in place, and they have been told to work at home by their manager or HR department
  • They have a medical reason for not attending work
  • They are self-isolating on medical or HSE advice.

The union has also advised pregnant women and those who are medically vulnerable to the virus to get their doctor’s advice before reporting for work.

Separately, Fórsa has again urged the Government to put childcare arrangements in place for healthcare workers and other essential staff. The union says there has been an unacceptable delay in this urgent measure, which is being led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Read Fórsa’s advice HERE – and note that it will be updated as new guidance is issued.