Work Safely Protocol
At the beginning of the summer, we looked at the health and safety requirements and practical guidance that employers need to consider before re-opening the workplace. We also looked at the guidance around vaccinations.
The new plan to reopen Irish society, Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting Plan (the Plan), provides guidance for numerous sectors of society with implications for a range of employers and employees.
Under the Plan, the return to workplaces will be implemented on a phased basis from 20 September 2021. The Plan outlines that this new phase should begin a new long-term blended working/return to office model for businesses. Clear engagement with employees will be important in this regard. We recommend that employers start to consult with employees now, to allay any concerns and consider any practical accommodations.
The existing Work Safely Protocol (the Protocol) will be further updated by the Government to support the transition back to the workplace in advance of 20 September 2021, and we expect this to be published shortly.
While the Plan provides that social distancing restrictions for private settings will be reduced, it is not clear whether this will apply to workplaces. The updated Protocol will provide more clarity. In the meantime, we recommend that employers continue to adhere to public health advice and the existing Protocol in developing their plan to return to the workplace.
Employers should start to prepare for the reopening of their workplaces and the return of their staff on a phased basis. Where possible, we also recommend that employers consider developing a flexible working policy that allows for flexibility while incorporating business needs. The updated Protocol is expected to be made available in the coming weeks which should provide further guidance on staff numbers and capacity requirements. Our team will issue a further update once the revised Protocol is published.
For more information and expert guidance on successfully making a seamless transition for your employees, please contact a member of our Employment & Benefits team.
We hosted an Employment Law Top Tips webinar looking at Vaccinations and Returning to Work, watch the recording here.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.