Returning to work safely

Health and safet coronavirus

On Thursday 28th May, we held a webinar around the subject of returning to work safely.

FRS Recruitment were joined by Paula Mumford, Health & Safety Team Manager with SeaChange and John Gorman, Owner of Sunflower HR

John said one of the main issues for management to consider is not just WHAT to do but HOW to do it. Management need to keep people informed and engaged.

Paula said that SeaChange are currently involved in developing policies procedures and templates for their clients with Covid-19 in mind and supporting clients with their response plans.

So, what are the key steps that companies need to implement? 

  • Plan for dealing with suspected cases of Covid-19
  • Perform risk assessments and think outside the box
  • Review existing safety statement and measures that are in place and see what needs to be changed
  • Complete a pre-return questionnaire which is issued by the HSE
  • Ensure you have a lead person(s) to act as the Go-To person to assist you with implementing the new health and safety measures and a contact person for staff

health and safety covid19 compliance officer

Implementing your Covid 19 safety plan

It is important that staff should be engaged early in the process. Make sure communication is strong so they understand the control measures and are engaged with them. Discuss what you are doing and why you are doing it. Safety training for sole traders/small businesses was discussed and full details of what is required are included in the return to work protocol which has been issued by government. Indeed, as Paula mentioned, the return to work protocol goes into lots of detail and is very clear in its instructions.

All companies must ensure that all training is documented – if it isn’t documented, then it didn’t happen. If a member of staff does not comply with training or new safety measures, this is a breach in relation to the code of conduct and disciplinary measures can be used, especially if the behaviour continues.

Issues that may arise

Companies need to put a return to work plan in place and ensure all staff are aligned with the plan.  There will be some practical issues that will arise including childcare, but each case needs to be taken individually.  If the job must be done from the workplace and the employee is unable to go back due to childcare, it would be unreasonable to request them to return.  However, during the return to work phases, if work can be carried out at home – it must continue to do so.

What to do if your staff refuse to return to work

From a HR perspective one of the biggest issues facing employers is that some employees have managed their lifestyle well and are choosing not to come back to work, especially while the €350 payment remains. It may not be worth their while to go back to work.

If this happens and you are waiting a few weeks for an employee to return, you can contact our temporary team who have many skilled and available temporary pool of candidates. Email us on [email protected] to find out more.

Monitoring your new Covid 19 Safety plan

The office / workplace cleaning routine/schedule needs to be reviewed with a view to increasing the cleaning and intensity. Start with the basics. If there are gaps and the costs don’t outweigh the benefits then work away.


Note: For all businesses who are restarting and paying rates, there is a restart grant available from your local authority if you have a turnover of less than €5m and less than 50 employees. 

Re-watch the webinar here

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