Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (241)

Richard Bruton

Question:

241. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the support services the public service has put in place to support remote workers and in particular access to professional support for injury, stress and so on which may arise; and if these supports are done through in-house human resources or contracted out to outside professionals. [6479/21]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Responsibility for providing supports to remote workers is in general a matter for the relevant employer, in the first instance. However, the Civil Service provides support to employees through the Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) which operates under the auspices of my Department and is a free and confidential service providing support to staff and management at times of personal and/or work-related difficulties. It plays a key part in an ethos of promoting employee wellness and organisational effectiveness.

During 2020 15% of serving Civil Servants made contact with the CSEAS. In response to the challenges presented by remote working the CSEAS developed a range of online resources to support staff. These are available on their website and most have also been circulated to staff by Human Resource Divisions and local managers. Resources include Tips for Managing your Wellbeing while Remote Working and Managing Working from Home and Childcare Responsibilities.

The CSEAS has also been engaged by Civil Service Departments and Offices to provide bespoke presentations on a range of health and well-being topics. Since March 2020 these have been provided virtually reaching an estimated audience of 13,000 staff. Topics included Stress Management, Self-Care, Resilience and Mental Health and Wellbeing as well as Self-Care/Wellbeing While Working Remotely. In a number of instances, these presentations were recorded and made available to staff unable to attend the session.

The CSEAS operates a central telephone and e-mail service which is available to Civil Servants during normal office hours. Support is also available at other times by prior arrangement. Further information on the CSEAS and details of individual Employee Assistance Officers and the Departments/regions they cover is available on the CSEAS website www.cseas.per.gov.ie.

Last year, my Department published the Working from Home during COVID-19: Guidance for Civil Service Organisations. This document provided and continues to provide direction to Civil Service organisations to help them support employees during COVID-19 restrictions. A key element of the Guidance is the health and wellbeing of all employees.

In addition to centralised supports individual Departments and Offices deliver local Health and Wellbeing initiatives to employees. Indeed, my own Department is committed to a holistic approach to Health and Wellbeing and offers a range of Health and Wellbeing sessions, on a regular basis, to employees to support them in maintaining their physical and mental health - some of these programmes are delivered by external professionals.