EMPLOYER UPDATE: CORONAVIRUS
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have declared the spread of the ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’ as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, with cases of the virus confirmed already in 9 European countries.
What Employers need to know
Not only should individuals take care of their own health and protect against the illness, but employers also have a Duty of care towards their employees to take into account and plan for emergency situations, such as the spread and possible harm that the virus may cause to their employees.
Thankfully, at the time of writing, there have been no confirmed cases as of yet in Ireland, however, it is important that employers are prepared for such circumstances.
What Employers need to do
Employers should conduct risk assessments within their workplace.
They should identify what the likelihood of staff contracting the coronavirus whilst at work is and what control measures can be introduced to manage that risk.
International travel is one of the main areas of concern for employers to consider and it is recommended to avoid all non-essential travel to China. Employers should try to put measures in place which would eliminate the need for employees to travel to China e.g. use online meeting platforms.
However, if travel to China is unavoidable for employees, employers should make sure that they are fully familiar with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade guidelines.
As an employer you will want to ensure business continuity, therefore, it is recommended to have a plan prepared in the unfortunate event that the coronavirus reaches Ireland and spreads. Given that the virus is spread through the coughing and sneezing of infected persons, a key consideration may include reducing close contact by having fewer people in the office and incorporating practices such as flexible working and working from home arrangements.
The World Health Organisation provide comprehensive infographics on their website referring to the basic tips that can help to protect individuals from getting sick, which employers can post throughout the workplace for their employees.
Overall it is important that employers monitor the spread of the virus and apply the guidelines as prescribed by the Health and Safety Authority and the WHO.
This update is provided by the MSS HR Support Service.
Further details on the update or about our services may be obtained from:
John Barry/Tara Daly/ Hugh Hegarty at tel: 01 8870690