Covid-19: Guidance Notice For Employers And Employees.

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  • The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 places a general duty of care on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees. Duties include the provision of facilities, arrangements, information and instruction for the welfare of employees at work.
  • Employees also have obligations under that Act to ensure that they do not pose a threat to the safety of others in their workplace.
  • Employees are advised to follow the advice from the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to protect their health. This advice is being updated regularly and can be accessed at Covid-19 Advice
  • The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has also published a business continuity planning checklist of preparatory actions in responding to COVID-19 at Business Continuity Planning checklist
  • In the first instance pay arrangements between employers and employees during periods of illness related absences are dependent on terms and conditions of the contract of employment, subject to obligations set down in law.
  • Where not covered under a contract of employment or an agreed attendance policy, there is no statutory entitlement for an employee to be paid by their employer in the event that they are absent from work. This may also be the position where an employee is unable to attend work as a result of precautionary measures taken in line with HSE or HPSC advices.
  • In such circumstances, employers and their employees should engage proactively and work to be as flexible as possible to resolve any issues arising at the level of employment and explore options such as;
    • Working from home or other remote working arrangements where feasible and practical
    • Working from an alternative location where feasible and practical.
    • Agreement to work back the hours / days lost
    • Alternative opening days on a day where the business is normally closed
    • The taking of leave to avoid employee loss of earnings
  • In situations where a business’ ability to provide work to its employees is impacted, an employer may put employees on a period of ‘layoff’. Periods of layoff are unpaid. There are a number of social welfare payments that employees may potentially be entitled to. For further detail see https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-employment-affairs-and-social-protection/.
  • Where issues cannot be resolved locally, an employee may make a complaint under the relevant employment rights legislation to the Workplace Relations Commission. Where an employer and employee are agreeable, the Commission may seek to resolve the matter by means of mediation. Otherwise the complaint will be investigated by an Adjudication Officer.
  • If you wish to seek additional information on your employment rights you may speak with an Information Officer of the Workplace Relations Commission at 1890 80 80 90 or 059 917 8990, Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5pm. The service is available for both employers and employees. Information is also available on www.workplacerelations.ie.
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