Covid guidelines and “close contact” work attendance update

Friday 31 December 2021

Re: I have been deemed a “close contact” but my employer has informed me that I must attend work – what should I do?

Dear members,

Further to queries over the past number of days regarding reports that some workers are being requested to return to work despite being deemed a “close contact” in line with HSE guidelines Mandate has the following advice.

Should your employer demand you return to work during your isolation period/restricting your movements, contrary to HSE guidelines and your “close contact” status, Mandate members are urged to contact your local Union Shop Steward or Union Office as a matter of urgency where we can assist and support our members in addressing these issues.

All employers have a duty of care to ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employees under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work 2005 Act, as well as a general obligation to ensure in so far as is reasonably practicable, that in the course of the work being carried on, individuals at the place of work (not being his or her employees) are not exposed to risks to their safety, health and welfare. Any negligence or reckless deviation from these legal obligations and the public health guidelines, as determined by the HSE/Government is a cause for both employee and general public concern and should be raised without delay.

I also wish to bring to your attention details regarding the government “enhanced illness benefit”.

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself being advised to self-isolate / restrict movements by a doctor or the HSE due to being a probable source of infection or you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by a doctor, you may be entitled to apply for an enhanced Illness Benefit payment, provided certain eligibility conditions are met. The following links can be used to access some helpful information regarding this government enhanced illness benefit payment, as well as the eligibility criteria etc.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Hogan

Mandate Assistant General Secretary