Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
474. To ask the Minister for Health the discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues on the effect the Covid-19 pandemic is having on public services; the arrangements being made to ensure that all staff who cannot work efficiently remotely return to work in their offices; the protocols being put in place to ensure this can be done safely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10480/20]
The Government has established a Cabinet Subcommittee, chaired by the Taoiseach, to assess the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. The work of the Cabinet Subcommittee includes addressing the impacts, mitigation measure and contingencies for cross-sectoral issues which arise in areas beyond the health service, building on the effective public health work undertaken to date. A whole of government approach to the coronavirus response requires cohesive decision-making, a partnership approach, expert public health advice and clarity of communications. The Cabinet Subcommittee is supported in its work by a Senior Officials Group comprised of representatives from relevant Government Departments.
Through the Cabinet SubCommittee on Covid-19 and related structures, I and my Department consult with a range of Government Departments on all relevant aspects of the current pandemic and the Government Roadmap for Reopening Business and Society.
In keeping with the Government's Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business which sets out a plan to reopen Irish society in a carefully managed, phased manner, the majority of public service employees will continue to work from home. Only essential staff, whose work cannot be carried out from home, will travel to work.
I would also wish to draw the Deputy's attention to the Return to Work Safely Protocol which was published by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on Saturday 9 May last. This detailed guidance document was developed to assist employers and employees in the coming period. Link to the protocol is here: . The Protocol is mandatory and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy. Specific sectors may need to introduce additional safeguards, but this document sets the standard set of measures required in every workplace.
The Deputy may wish to note that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is responsible for the specific issues raised in relation to working arrangements in the wider public service.