As Ireland moves through the phased re-opening of businesses after the COVID19 lockdown, there are a number of important areas that employers need to focus on in order to meet their obligations. Every step must be taken to ensure your business opens safely for both customers and staff. Here, Brian Gill, Partner at CallanTansey outlines some key considerations.
Re-opening your business safely means re-opening legally

Here is why it matters:

  • It will help save lives.
  • It will increase the chances of your business surviving
  • It will reduce your exposure in an HSA audit and/or in any litigation.
  1. Start with the basics – the contracts of employment
  • Go back and re-acquaint yourself with your employees’ existing contracts. They still apply and will determine a lot of what of what you can and cannot do.
  • Use this time to get written terms & conditions to all employees. Put in writing the terms the employees actually have. No back door changes.
  • Communicate all proposed changes to staff.
  1. Existing obligations haven’t gone away

 Pre- Pandemic legal obligations remain. The Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act (2005) requires the employer to have Risk Assessments and Safety Statements as part of their dual obligation to 1) provide a safe place of work and 2) a safe system of work. The common law mirrors these obligations.

  1. New Obligations have been added and must be met

The Government has published two key documents which Employers need to familiarise themselves with: 

  • Roadmap for Re-opening Society & Business
  • Return to Work Safely Protocol.

It is illegal for any business to re-open before it is entitled to by reference to the 5 stages of the phased reopening. 

  1. Key Documents for Employers to have & Key Documents to draft
 Key Documents to have  Key documents to draft/ display
 1.  Roadmap for Re-opening Society & Business  1.   COVID 19 Response Plan
2. Return to Work Safely Protocol 2. Return to Work Form/Questionnaire
3. Suspected Case Plan
3. Employment Contract & Policies 4. Contact Tracing Log
4  Risk Assessment 5. Training Attendance Logs
5  Safety Statement 6. Hygiene Check Logs
  7. Incident Report Form
  8. Display Signs (for the workplace)

5. To Do List for Employers

 In order to re-open within the law, it is important that every employer complies with their obligations as laid out in the Protocol document.

We have created a checklist to help you prepare your business for opening again.  You can get a copy of that checklist here.

In the weeks and months ahead communication and collaboration will be your best tools for a successful re-opening.  When it comes to the law know what you know but more importantly know what you don’t know and be sure that you know where to find the answers you need. A safe and sucessful return to work is your key objective and essential to that is your understanding of your compliance needs.

You can listen back to a recent interview with Brian on these issues below.

If you have any concerns or queries about any of the issues mentioned here, please contact Brian Gill, Partner:

Brian Gill Interview on Midwest Radio