Safe workplaces and remote working a priority – ICTU

Speaking after the meeting of the Covid-19 Stakeholder Forum, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Patricia King said: “Following the lifting of the majority of public health restrictions on Friday, the Forum met today to discuss a number of issues to ensure people can be confident that workplaces are safe for staff and the public. 

The Forum noted that notwithstanding the changes to public health advice the pandemic is not over. 
It was agreed that the Work Safely Protocol will now be updated to provide ‘good guidance’ to employers and workers to maintain safe workplaces.
The Health and Safety Authority will continue to operate its contact centre where advice will be available on all matters relating to the operation of the Protocol.
The Forum agreed that during the phased transition back to the workplace genuine consultation and engagement between employers and workers/representatives on all aspects of the return is essential.” 

Ms King added: “Congress notes the imminent publication of legislation to give workers new rights relating to requests to work remotely. It is expected that the Heads of Bill will be put for Cabinet consideration tomorrow. 
“With the sudden ending of the work from home guidance and the time-lag in workers’ remote working rights coming into force, Congress stressed the importance of employers recognising there will be practical reasons and, for some workers, health grounds why a speedy return to the office is not always going to be possible and that reasonable accommodations must be made.”