With workplaces beginning to open employers have certain obligations that need to be adhered to in order to safeguard their employees and their workplaces. The reality is that companies will have to continually adapt in line with evolving government guidelines, at a minimum, for the next few months.
To ensure that there is not a second wave, which may lead to a second lockdown, every company needs to continuously review their work and decide if the correct safeguards are in place.
Those companies who can continue to allow employees to remote work should continue to do so and appropriate policies need to be developed to support this. The government has also advised that employees who have been identified as vulnerable should work from home where possible, if this is not possible, these employees are safeguarded through social distancing.
The return to work protocol advises that, in preparation for returning to work, employers should:
1. At least one Covid-19 officer needs to be appointed. Employees undertaking this role must receive the necessary training and have a structured framework to follow within the company to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus. (this should not just be a box-ticking exercise!)
2. Companies should consult with all employees and safety reps on new safety measures that will be implemented in the workplace.
3. Covid-19 training needs to be provided to all employees in regard to new safety protocols, identifying symptoms and keeping the virus at bay.
4. All companies need to develop a Covid-19 response plan. This response plan should be a product of your Covid-19 risk assessment.
5. Companies are required to keep a log of employees who are working together in order to facilitate contract tracing. This information will need to be kept for 28 days.
6. Policies and procedures need to be developed and/or amend policies to identify Covid-19 risks and isolation procedures.
7. All workplace changes or policies need to be communicated to employees, this should include the Covid19 response plan.
8. Control and prevention measures should be put in place throughout the workplace, this may include staggered start times and lunch breaks, sanitation stations, Covid-19 awareness posters and social distancing guidelines, isolation rooms and screens.
9. All employees returning to the workplace need to complete a pre-return to work form at least three days in advance of return.
10. Most importantly companies need to follow public health advice.
It is important to note that if a workplace is deemed not to comply with the public health guidelines the HSA can order improvements and ultimately for a workplace to be closed.
The HSA has published checklists and templates to help companies.
As always we have loads of FREE downloads to her you started!
|Return to work protocol|
The Return to Work Protocol document is designed to help employers and workers put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 when they return to the workplace. This useful document will help to formulate best practices before employees return to the site.
|Social Distancing Guidelines|
All workplaces operating during the Covid-19 pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of the spread of infection. This document is a guideline to introduce consistent measures in line with the Government’s recommendations on social distancing.
|Covid-19 return to work form|
Before returning to work, all employees should confirm that they do not have symptoms of COVID-19, are not self-isolating, are not waiting on results of a COVID-19 test and have not been in contact with someone who has the virus.
|Training Attendance Template|
You need to keep a record of all people who will be entering your workplace. The Event Attendance Template can be used to keep a record of this information if you are holding training in a common workspace.
This information is important as it may be needed by employers for traceability purposes.
|Download a timesheet template|
All employers need to keep a record of their employees’ working hours.
This template allows all information that is important for employers to keep a record of – including both time-tracking as well as information for traceability purposes.
HRLocker Podcast, Cait Lynch from ISME talks to us about the process and procedures that Irish businesses should take in order to bring their people back to work safely. Cait gives some great HR advice that companies should look out for on the return to work!