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08/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

DPER issue COVID-19 guidelines.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has issued an FAQ document to provide Human Resources (HR) guidance for a SIPTU Health Division members in relation to leave associated with COVID-19.

The general principles to apply to the treatment of COVID-19 infections for SIPTU Health members include:

  1. Obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 to ensure the safety and welfare of employees at work.
  2. Flexibility for alternative working arrangements (for example home working), is to be encouraged where possible. This may enable employees, who are not ill, to continue working.
  3. Circular 2/1976, which covers special leave with pay2 should apply to periods of medically/HSE recommended self-isolation3 where flexible working arrangements are not possible, and also to medical diagnoses of COVID-19 infection. Sectors will need to amend these FAQs to refer to their own special leave circulars or arrangements as necessary.
  4. The general principles applying to the management of sick leave, for example the requirement of employees to contact managers, and for ongoing contact with employees who are on special leave for this purpose, will apply.
  5. Any special leave with pay granted for the purpose of self-isolation or any diagnosis of COVID-19 will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record. The application of special leave with pay will apply for the number of days advised by the HSE/doctor. Appropriate medical/HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate and a diagnosis of COVID-19 will be required.
  6. When granting special leave with pay, as per clause 31.2 of Circular 2/1976, “the officer will be expected to comply at once with any directions which may be given by his Department and to take all practicable steps to resume duty as soon as possible. Otherwise, unless adequate reason is shown for non-compliance, the question of withholding pay will arise”.
  7. In the event of non-compliance with the provisions of special leave with pay (including the requirement to provide bona fide4 confirmation of self- isolation/diagnosis of COVID-19) existing procedures, including disciplinary measures may be invoked.
  8. Subject to expert public health advice in light of developing circumstances on COVID-19, the general principles or FAQ material may be subject to updating or other amendment. Employers retain the right to withdraw or amend provisions in light of developing circumstances.
  9. These arrangements apply in the case of COVID-19 as a notifiable infectious disease. They do not apply, for example, to ordinary flu-like illnesses.
  10. Civil and Public Service employers are encouraged to review their business continuity plans in light of the emerging situation.
  11. Civil and Public Service employers need to ensure that special category health data is processed legally within data protection legislation.

Read the full document HERE.

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