20 days: Time to get your workplace ready for returning employees

On Tuesday, August 31st, the Government made an important announcement with regard to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

While most restrictions will end on October 22nd, the key date for employers is September 20th. That’s when a phased return to the workplace can begin in accordance with a new Work Safely Protocol that will be introduced prior to this date.

For the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on employees returning to the workplace and what action employers must now take.

How will this announcement impact your business in the next 20 days?

While Cabinet stated that employers can begin a phased return of employees to the workplace from September 20th, flexibility is encouraged.

Depending on the sector, it may mean bringing employees back in groups or to a certain number for a period. During this transition, employees may notify you of their intention to request remote work when it becomes a right later this year.

As such, it’s best to remain open-minded over the coming months. It may take some time to return to full capacity and find working solutions that everyone is happy with.

Health Minister sets out approach for moving forward

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly stated that “I think what you will see is a move away, in a gradual sense, from the rules and regulations-based systems to one that does place an emphasis on personal responsibility, and on living alongside it (the virus) in a cautious way.”

Phased return to the workplace

From an employer perspective, the decisions of Cabinet require affirmative action in the form of:

  • Communicating ‘Return to Work’ procedures to employees.
  • Assessing space within office environments to ensure staff safety.
  • Establishing measures within the workplace to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

With NPHET expected to be reduced in terms of its input in the coming weeks, it’s crucial for employers to implement processes and measures on how to begin the gradual return to the workplace as soon as possible. A number of issues may arise which require time to manage and these can include a requirement for flexible working and remote working to continue.

Need our help when returning your employees?

If you have questions about bringing employees back into the workplace or updating employment contracts and policies, speak to a Graphite expert now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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Nora Cashe


Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

Graphite HRM

Rhiannon Coyne is a Senior HR Consultant at Graphite HRM and will be providing an overview of best practice on how to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.