Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (587)

Barry Cowen

Question:

587. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the recourse an employee has if they are of the view that Covid-19 workplace guidance is not being adhered to by the employer or in cases in which they view their health is being compromised by the working conditions in place; her views on whether it is appropriate in such a case for an employer to take enforcement action against that employee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6093/20]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

As the Deputy will be aware, I launched the national “Return to Work Safely Protocol” Saturday, 9 May 2020. The Protocol was drafted in close consultation with the social partners under the auspices of the Labour and Employer Economic Forum and agreed with them.

The Protocol sets out the requirements for businesses and employers on the steps required to address the risks arising from COVID-19 public health protection measures in the workplace and all businesses are required to comply fully with the Protocol. It also sets out in very clear terms the steps that the employer and worker must take when a workplace reopens and while it continues to operate.

Compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol is being led by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), who have overall responsibility for ensuring the health, safety and welfare at work of all workers.

Employers and workers are required, in line with what is set out in the Protocol, to actively and jointly take responsibility for applying the clear measures set out in the Protocol, for the health and safety of all concerned. However, any worker with concerns about the manner in which public health measures are being adhered to at their place of work should bring these concerns to their employer and to the COVID-19 worker representative in the first instance and they can of course also contact the Health and Safety Authority Workplace Contract unit  wcu@hsa.ie  and Tel: 1890 289 389.

I am satisfied that the overall approach will ensure the necessary collaboration and co-operation between employers and employees who share the common goal of keeping workplaces safe.