Re: COVID - 19 – Public Health Advice and Protocol Implications for Workers
I refer to the above and recent Government briefings regarding same.
In recent days there has been considerable public debate on the precise implications for workers who are affected in anyway by the current Public Health requirements.
It is our view that in circumstances where an employee contracts this virus the normal condition for sick leave applies.
In cases of enforced absences i.e., where there is direction and/or medical advice for an employee to self-isolate, then normal pay should continue to be paid. This should also apply where an employee self-isolates in accordance with the up-to-date guidance of the HSE.
In relation to Public Servants, particularly those engaged in delivering Emergency & Health Services, precise arrangements will be as agreed through the normal Collective Bargaining procedures with the employer.
Where caring duties arise as a direct result of the COVID-19 Virus, and Public Heath advice such absences should be regarded as "enforced absences" as described above and should be remunerated accordingly. Other possible flexible working arrangements including "working from home" should be the subject of discussion at local level.
In light of the above, I have contacted the Director-General of the WRC and requested that strong consideration be given to the development of a Statutory Code of Practice relating to these matters and agreed between the Stakeholders.
This would provide clarity for all concerned and avoid different employer approaches to this serious matter.