Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Questions (136)

Mary Butler


136. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the guidelines under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 have been updated and-or reviewed to reflect the possible risks to employees through cyber or digital means; if so, if there are clear arrangements for the protection and general welfare of an employee and a mechanism in place that employers can implement relevant procedures and practices to ensure employees are protected as much as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27088/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The General Application Regulations 2007 made under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (2005 Act) cover a wide range of provisions and are applicable to all employments. While neither the Act nor the Regulations specifically address cyber or digital risks to employees, the 2005 Act does contain provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of all employees. The Act also covers the risk to employees from workplace bullying which could include by cyber or digital means.

The 2005 Act applies to employers, employees in all employments and to the self–employed. There are a number of specific sections of the Act applicable to all workplace risks.

Section 8 of the 2005 Act covers the general duties of employers. It requires an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all of his or her employees. This would include any improper conduct or behaviour at work such as violence, bullying or horseplay. All employers should have a workplace anti-bullying policy in place.

Section 13 of the 2005 Act covers employees’ duties which include a requirement on an employee not to engage in improper conduct or other behaviour that is likely to endanger his or her own safety, health and welfare at work or that of any other person. Violence, horseplay and bullying at work would come within the meaning of improper conduct. Workplace anti-bullying policies rely on the co-operation between employers and employees for their effectiveness.

In addition, the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work, prepared and published in 2007 in accordance with Section 60 of the 2005 Act which provides guidelines on arrangements, procedures and guidance generally on tackling workplace bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, is currently being revised jointly by the Health & Safety Authority and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). I understand that this revised Code of Practice, due for publication in early 2020, will include workplace bullying and harassment by cyber or digital means.