Offices are Re-Opening – Here is what you Need to Know

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has published an updated Work Safely Protocol Guideline as thousands of employees are set to switch from remote or hybrid working arrangements to full time, in-office work over the coming weeks.

“The updated Work Safely Protocol reflects the most up to date public health advice and reinforces the public health measures that have kept workplaces safe throughout the pandemic, such as the need to maintain the requirement for physical distancing, the wearing of masks and ventilation. These measures remain critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.” – Varadkar said in a press release accompanying the updated protocol.

 

20th of September – 22nd of October:

From September 20th, businesses can begin a phased and staggered return to workplaces for specific business requirements. The interpretation of this guidance will depend on the specific circumstances of each workplace, and should be informed by consultations with workers. This means that the return to workplaces must take place in a cautious and careful manner, considering the following…

  1. Appropriate attendance levels, cognisant of public health guidance as reflected in the Work Safely Protocol and associated checklists.
  2. Staggered working arrangements, such as non-fulltime attendance and flexible working hours.
  • Attendance, initially, must be for specific business requirements.

 

October 22nd Onwards:

As outlined in the state plan Reframing the Challenge: Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting, assuming the benchmark of 90% of those aged 16 or over being vaccinated in the coming weeks, and having assessed the incidence and behaviour of the disease at the time – the Government will begin to remove further statutory restrictions from the 22nd of October.

 

What Impact will this Have on Employers and Workers?

The requirement to work from home will be removed, allowing a return to physical attendance in workplaces on a phased and cautious basis appropriate to each sector. The statutory regime in place to support the protection of public health will also be wound down in line with an agreed removal of restrictions.

Talks among the Government, trade unions and employer representatives will take place in advance of this change, under the guidelines of the Labour Employer Economic Forum. Where requirements for employers and workers will be discussed, considering the latest public health guidance and decisions.

The Government will also continue to implement Making Remote Work, Ireland’s National Remote Work Strategy which will support employers and employees in ensuring that, following the pandemic, remote working is a more prominent permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social, and environmental benefits.

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