What responsibilities do I need to be aware of as an employer?

Exposure to COVID-19 may present a health risk to workers and other persons at a workplace. Therefore, employers are required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that an appropriate assessment of the risk for COVID-19 in their workplace is carried out. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published advice for employers which can be accessed here. Enterprise Ireland and The HR Suite have published a guide to provide direction to companies on how they should manage the Covid-19 situation from an employer/employee perspective. You can access this here.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a Return to Work Safely Protocol which is available online here. It is designed to support employers and workers to return to work safely following the COVID-19 closures. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are charged with oversight and enforcement of these measures. If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie. More information on Getting Ireland Back to Work Safely is here.

Is there guidance available for people dealing with the general public?

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published advice and guidance including guidance for workers dealing with the general public here.

Where can I access COVID-19 posters to display in my premises?

COVID-19 posters for public use can be accessed on gov.ie here.

What should I do if I think my staff or I have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19?

Anyone who may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, or who has been to an affected area in the last 14 days, is advised to contact HSE Live (1850 24 1850, www.hse.ie/eng/hselive/). If you are unwell with a cough, especially with respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever) you should isolate yourself immediately and phone your GP.

Are there any implications in relation to data protection?

Many of the steps in containing the spread and mitigating the effects of COVID-19 will involve the processing of personal data (such as name, address, workplace, travel details) of individuals, including in many cases sensitive, ‘special category’, personal data (such as data relating to health). Data protection law does not stand in the way of the provision of healthcare and the management of public health issues; nevertheless, there are important considerations which should be taken into account when handling personal data in these contexts, particularly health and other sensitive data. For further details, see information published by the Date Protection Commission here.

If home-working on a temporary basis is an option for my business, what are the key considerations for employers and employees?

Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees. These duties include the employee’s workspace where employees are required to work from home. The Health and Safety Authority has published an FAQ document for employers and employees in relation to home-working on a temporary basis due to COVID-19.

Where can I find the latest advice on health and travel in order to safeguard my employees?

We would recommend reviewing the health advice from the Department of Health (Coronavirus updates are on this page); travel advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and global advice from the World Health Organization.