Businesses urged to prioritise employee safety

Updated / Monday, 16 Oct 2017 19:25

Employers have a duty of care to their workers under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, ISME says

Businesses around the country have been encouraged to make a plan and prioritise employee safety when dealing with ex-hurricane Ophelia.

ISME said that employers have a duty of care to their workers under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act and their first consideration should be whether it is safe to ask staff to travel to work at all. 

Given the red status weather warning we encourage all businesses to minimise movement of employees - safety should be utmost priority.

— Small Firms Assoc (@SFA_Irl) October 15, 2017

It added that if the companies do encourage their staff to come to work, they should ensure there are plans in place to get people home safely.

Companies were also urged to remain on alert for a change in conditions that might affect people's ability to travel.

Meanwhile, business group IBEC said businesses should try to minimise employee movement today and put workers' safety first.

And Dublin Chamber of Commerce encouraged employers to remain flexible over the course of the day - and allow people to work from home where possible.

The Construction Industry Federation encouraged its members to minimise the movement of employees today.

It advised members to recheck and secure all sites. "For the duration of the red status weather warning, members of the public should avoid building sites," it added.

Companies that tell employees to stay at home will likely still have to pay them, unless they agree to another arrangement with workers, according to Professor Michael Doherty, head of Maynooth's Department of Law. 

Professor Doherty said that workers need at least 24 hours notice if their shift is being changed and even more time if they are being required to take annual leave, which is unlikely to have been the case for many being asked to stay at home today.

Companies could have a different arrangement for pay in these conditions, but only if it is set out in their employment contracts, he added.