16/06/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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COVID-19 Advice for SIPTU Health members

COVID-19 is a new disease in the human population and the national and international situation is dynamic and evolving. To assist SIPTU Health members during this time of crisis a new information line and email address has been set up.

You can read all the HSE Circulars on the Covid-19 crisis here

The HSE has developed a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that will be updated regularly.

You can also read the National Action Plan on Coronavirus here

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?

STAFF AT HIGHER RISK OF CONTACT WITH COVID-19

SIPTU has sought the following commitments from management in the HSE and elsewhere with regard to staff who must work in environments of particular risk with regard to Covid-19:

  1. Wherever possible, volunteers for such tasks should be sought in the first instance
  2. For the protection of patients, clients, the public and workers themselves, staff must have the training and qualifications required to the undertake tasks and functions they are allocated safely and effectively
  3. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and training in the use and disposal of PPE, will be provided along with any other necessary supports (eg, mental health support) that can reasonably be expected
  4. The individual family circumstances of staff will be taken into account when people are being allocated to tasks and functions. In particular, those living with – or whose caring responsibilities demand contact with – elderly and other high-risk groups should not be obliged to work in high-risk areas except in very exceptional circumstances
  5. Wherever possible, such workers will also receive other practical supports from their employer (eg, childcare supports)
  6. There will be equity in the application of these criteria.

ADVICE TO HEALTH WORKERS

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health staff, of all grades, whose job might put them in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

This advice is based on HSE occupational health guidelines.

REPORTING FOR WORK

Reporting for work: General

SIPTU Health continues to advise members to report for work as normal unless:

  • You have been told not to attend work by your manager or HR department
  • Remote working arrangements have been put in place, and you have been told to work at home by your manager or HR department
  • You have a medical reason for not attending work
  • You are self-isolating on medical or HSE advice.

SIPTU Health members who are not attending work for approved coronavirus-related reasons – or on medical advice – will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate. But you must follow the guidelines published by the HSE which are available HERE.

If you have followed SIPTU/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union in the message box at the end of this page.

Current recommendations for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are available HERE

HSE Memo re Redeployment Policy. HR Circular 15/2020

All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19. This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

The clause is essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

Reporting for work: Childcare difficulties

You will not automatically be paid if you are absent for work because of childcare difficulties arising from school or crèche closures.

However, DPER has called on managers and employees to be flexible in such circumstances, and has advised public service employers to support staff experiencing childcare problems including by enabling home working or introducing flexible shifts, staggered shifts, longer opening hours or weekend working. You can read more HERE.

Read the HSE’s circular on Childcare HERE and the accompanying guidance letter HERE. (Please note the two letters must be read together to understand the measures on offer). 

Reporting for work: self-isolating

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) issued new advice, on Monday 16th March, on what employees should do if they have to go into self-quarantine or self-isolation as a result of the Covid-19 virus. You can read a FAQ document HERE

UPDATED: Reporting for work: Pregnant women reporting for work

The HSE has advised pregnant women to take extra care. If you are pregnant and concerned about attending work, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE. Note that agreed HSE guidelines say pregnant staff will be transferred to non-contact roles.

Current HSE occupational health advice says management has a responsibility to redeploy pregnant staff from direct contact with people with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if requested. The same advice says pregnant staff who have said they want to be redeployed cannot be rostered to work with coronavirus patients.

Reporting for work: ‘Vulnerable groups’

If you are in vulnerable group (ie, if you are over 60 or have a long-term medical condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure), you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Staff recently returned from abroad

Staff who have recently returned from abroad – particularly from restricted areas as defined by the Department of Foreign Affairs, should follow HSE guidelines and/or seek medical advice.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Members who’ve recently recovered from a critical illness

If you’ve recently recovered from a critical illness, have recently been signed fit for work, but are concerned that you might be particularly vulnerable to the virus, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

If you encounter problems with your employer

If you have followed SIPTU Health/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union.

Members are strongly advised to co-operate with management in its efforts to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services – including when this means doing different things, in different ways, at different times.

Guidance issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is available HERE, says staff redeployment across the civil and public services could be required to ensure the maintenance of essential services. It also called for the reassignment of staff within organisations to prioritise the most critical services.

The union is in constant liaison with management to ensure that appropriate protective and containment measures are in place.

If you have genuine concerns about the health and safety of yourself or others, or if you genuinely believe that collective agreements are being seriously breached without union consultation, you should contact the union

PROTECTIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO SELF-ISOLATE OR CONTRACT COVID-19

SIPTU Health members who contract the Covid-19 virus, or who are advised to self-isolate by a medical practitioner, will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate.

SIPTU HEALTH: HERE TO SUPPORT YOU

SIPTU Health is here to protect you if you have problems arising from the coronavirus or other workplace issues.

The best way to contact the union at this time is on our new information line 01-858 3699, by emailing covid19info@siptuhealth.ie or by filling in the box below.