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Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Phased Return to the Workplace

The 1st of September marked the day the Irish government agreed Ireland’s plan for the next and final phase of our countries response to the COVID-19 pandemic: 'Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting, this response sets out the phased lifting of the majority of remaining restrictions. With over 88% of the over 18 population fully vaccinated and 92% of adults having received at least 1 dose and subject to the continuation of this progress, Ireland will enter a final phase on the 22nd of October, which is likely to last until at least next Spring. This next phase will see the majority of restrictions lifted and replaced by guidance to enable us to work together to protect ourselves.

Depending on the up to date data on COVID-19 up to the 22nd of October, the plan indicates that further restrictions are scheduled to be lifted such as the requirements for physical distancing however, the wearing of mask indoors in healthcare settings, retail and on public transport is likely to remain. 

The Government’s plan also confirms that from the 20th of September a return to workplaces for specific business requirements will commence on a phased and staggered attendance basis. The plan states that employers should develop or finalise their long-term hybrid working and return to work policies and have plans in place regarding their operational requirements in line with the public health advice. They also state that the Work Safely Protocol will be further updated to ensure that appropriate guidance is provided for the next phase of reopening including the return to offices. Once the Protocol is updated, we will provide you with a further update.

With employee's returning one of the most important actions for employers to take is to review their risk assessments and health & safety policies. In order to pinpoint how and where could the virus be transmitted in your workplace you must look at the hazards, evaluate the risks and put control measures in place. As previously mentioned in our previous blog post Hello Update! - Additions to the Return to Work Safely Protocol ventilation of enclosed workplace settings should be considered as part of the workplace risk assessment.

So what can employers do right now?

Employers will be required to reinforce safe working practices with the next key development being to see what is contained in the updated Work Safely Protocol when it is published shortly. While we all await the update to the protocol employers should develop their hybrid-working policies, ready their hybrid working letters confirming hybrid arrangements, both of which are available in our Bright Contracts software.

Bright Contracts has recently been updated to cover these consideration points for our customers to include in their employee handbooks, which can be found under the terms and conditions tab.

Related Articles:

Hybrid Working: Know The Basics

The Link Between Hybrid Working & Employee Engagement