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Vaccination Programme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (138)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

138. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there is a protocol or instruction to employers to facilitate employees with time off in order to attend for Covid-19 vaccination; his views on reports of some employers insisting that employees must make the vaccine appointments at their own expense and that in some cases this is proving to act as a deterrent against getting vaccinated; his views on whether this is a dangerous practice; the steps he will take to ensure a proper protocol for employers in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29150/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

From the outset of Covid-19, many employers have taken the initiative in line with subsequent requests from the Government to be as flexible and as accommodating as possible with their staff.  Employers have a general duty of care towards their workers and that care is often expressed in the form of understanding, compromise and flexibility.

COVID-19 vaccinations are an extremely important public health measure in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the community and in workplaces. There is no provision under occupational safety and health legislation to obligate employers to give employees time-off to avail of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, employers should bear in mind that in offering employees time off to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations they are, in fact, ensuring that the greatest level of workplace safety against COVID-19 can be maintained in their business.  Facilitating workers to avail of COVID-19 vaccination appointments will greatly assist in the recovery of individual businesses and of the wider economy.

I would encourage employees to engage with their employer in the first instance once they are assigned a vaccination appointment to explore all options available to enable them to receive the vaccination should it fall during working time. I would also encourage all employers to be as flexible and supportive as possible with a view to maintaining good employment relationships over the long term.

Employers are obliged to take reasonable steps to provide a safe place of work for their staff. In circumstances where employers fail to consider any of the reasonable options, an employee may have recourse to pursue a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2015, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 or the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015.

 

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