Digital Desk Staff
The Government is urging employers to adopt a cautious approach to the return to workplaces, stressing a gradual process.
The new guidelines advise consultation with worker representatives, permanent hybrid working arrangements and supports for employees nervous about the returning to the office.
As The Irish Times reports, new advice issued on Monday says employers may wish to keep some Covid rules in place for now.
They are not obliged to retain contact details of all office visitors, but employers may need to provide attendance information to health officials in the event of a Covid outbreak in the workplace, the protocol states.
The new recommendations issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment contain advice for both workers and employers after the emergency recommendation to work from home was lifted earlier this month.
“The pandemic is not over and the emergence of new variants with increased levels of transmissibility, immune escape and/or virulence remains a risk both nationally and globally,” the document states.
The protocol urges employers to maintain constant contact with unions and employee representatives as the return to the workplace is rolled out.
“The requirements to maintain a two-metre physical distance and to adopt pods of six for indoor events have been removed,” it states.
“However, public health advice for the individual and for sectors notes that adopting a physical distance continues to be good practice.
“Employers may choose to maintain some of the practices or arrangements that were in place based on the Work Safely Protocol for the period of transition back to office working.
“In meetings, events or training, the continued focus on hand and respiratory etiquette and adequate ventilation are all measures that may continue.”
It also says that maintaining some Covid controls “will also enable workplaces, employers and employees respond quickly should the public health advice change or should Covid-19 levels increase in the future”.
It is advisable to continue to use face masks in many instances, the document continues. Even outside areas such as retail and public transports where masks are still required, it says, “it is still good practice to continue to use face masks/coverings particularly in crowded areas”.
“Workers who use or share work vehicles may also consider using a face mask/covering. Individuals at high or very high risk should also follow public health advice in relation to mask wearing, including wearing a surgical or FFP2 mask when in crowded indoor settings.
“Employers should continue to support and facilitate the use of face masks by workers who may wish to continue to use them.”
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