Thousands of employers are being urged to assess whether it would be safer for their workers to work from home or wear a face mask in the office as the country battles a highly contagious form of Covid-19.
The new guidelines are issued by CIPD Ireland, the representative body for HR professionals with 6,000 private and public employers.
The government has signaled there will be no return to official mandatory restrictions despite the proliferation of the widespread BA2 form of Omicron, but there are calls for “leadership” on Covid-19 issues.
Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said extreme restrictions – going back to the days of lockdown – were needed to control the current highly contagious sub-variant and that was nowhere in sight.
CIPD Director Mary Connaughton said private and public companies were concerned about the impact of the virus on employees and asked what action they could take.
She said the updated guidance that the panel will issue would advise doing an assessment of the risks and seeing where face masks are needed in the workplace, e.g. B. in meeting rooms and canteens.
She said: “Look at where the risks are in the workplace and make sure people are wearing face masks here.
“If there is an outbreak and cases have emerged, you should consider discouraging people who are working from home from coming into the workplace.”
This could be adopted by more employers if possible for the coming weeks before the current wave subsides to protect staff health and also reduce the risk of sick leave, she added.
“If they do that in the coming weeks, it may reduce the infection.”
Employers are struggling with high levels of absenteeism as the sub-variety takes over the country.
Mr Donnelly said on Monday extreme measures were needed to contain the spread and these were not on the horizon.
A further 14,549 new cases of Covid were reported yesterday, including 5,962 confirmed by a PCR test.
The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 – about half of whom are there due to complications from the virus – fell slightly to 1,605, although that could be due to the “weekend effect” and lower discharges.
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care fell to 50 from 54 on Monday, signaling a possible turning point in the current wave.
However, it is feared that Covid-19-related hospitalizations will continue to increase over the next two weeks before plateauing and then slowly declining.
That means the disruption to hospitals – with the biggest impact on waiting list patients whose treatment has been postponed – could potentially last well into April.
Meanwhile, the HSE said yesterday its emergency services were recording a large number of calls.
“If you are calling 112/999 for a nonurgent or nonlife-threatening emergency, there may be a delay in getting an ambulance due to calls from other patients whose emergency care needs have been assessed at a higher level,” it said.
“The emergency services operate a priority dispatch system to ensure our paramedics and ambulances are dispatched to the most critically ill and injured patients first, in order of priority.
“All callers are advised to call back if the patient’s condition changes or worsens.”
A spokesman asked patients who no longer need an ambulance to contact the service so limited resources can be reallocated.
If the situation is not serious, patients are asked to consider a general practitioner or minor injury department or pharmacist.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/employers-urged-to-assess-if-its-safer-for-staff-to-work-from-home-41501429.html Employers urged that it be considered whether it is safer for employees to work from home