I wish to inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service are awaiting further information on this case and IPS will revert directly to the Deputy as soon as this information is received.
The following was received from the Department on 16 December 2020
Dear Deputy Murphy,
I refer to your Parliamentary Question Number 744 for written answer on 24 November 2020, which asked about working from home arrangements for Prison Officers
I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that all prison based employees of the Irish Prison Service are essential workers and are required to attend for duty during the Covid pandemic.
Employees of the Irish Prison Service are essential workers and required to attend for duty. Due to the nature of the role played by prison service staff, the service they provide cannot be done from home.
.The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has authorised Covid-19 Special Leave with pay for employees, but only in very specific circumstances; namely when an employee is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and is required to self-isolate or has had a positive test.
The case referred to by the Deputy was raised with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer who has advised that the risks associated with contracting Covid at work in a prison environment with modifications are similar to those prison based employees face at home.
I am further advised that the role referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy is not suitable for home working due to the nature of the information managed by the Prison Service as part of that process.
The Irish Prison Service has identified workplace modifications and alternative duties for high-risk employees, which reduce the risk to the employees concerned. The IPS will continue to engage with individual staff members on this matter within the parameters outlined above.