Union seeks face coverings rule

A suite of safety measures has been rolled out in local authorities across the country to protect staff and service users from contracting Covid-19.

However, the employers’ body has confirmed to Fórsa that it cannot enforce the mandatory wearing of face coverings by the public.

Head of the Local Government and Local Services and Municipal divisions, Peter Nolan wrote to the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) in August on foot of multiple queries from Fórsa members concerning face coverings.

“The union has been contacted by a large number of members in relation to the implications of recent public health regulations which made the wearing of face masks or coverings mandatory for staff and members of the public in retail premises,” Peter said.

He then wrote to the LGMA, requesting that local authorities immediately adopt the same standard in relation to all their publicly accessible buildings.

“No statutory authority”

The employers’ body subsequently responded by explaining that legislation allowing for compulsory face coverings is very specific on its application and local authorities therefore “have no statutory authority to make this mandatory other than in buildings provided for in the statutory instrument.”

However, the LGMA reassured Fórsa that it has introduced other safety measures such as physical distancing and the erection of protection screens where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Standard operating guidance has also been fully implemented across the sector which includes risk assessment of work activities, and provides for the wearing of personal protection equipment (PPE) including face coverings, if required.

Fórsa is monitoring the situation and in consistent contact with the LGMA and the Department.

If you have a safety concern about your workplace, you should contact your lead worker representative or your union official.

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