As part of our service we are obliged to give you the best guidance and support in order to keep yourself and your employees safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although all the public and private organisations are doing their best to keep us all safe, unfortunately, there are still many mixed messages from the UK Government and even our own Northern Ireland Executive can be somewhat confusing at times.
However, we felt that the best guidance we can give you would be from the Northern Ireland Engagement forum.
The priority of the Engagement Forum on Covid 19 is to protect the safety of all workers in the workplace. The Northern Ireland Engagement Forum was established by the Department for the Economy and has produced a guide to make workplaces safer. This guide has been approved by the NI Executive and is now available to support organisations and workers across Northern Ireland to take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.
Where an employer cannot provide a safe working environment during the current emergency, they must determine what steps are required to create a safe working environment, taking all reasonably practicable measures to implement a safe working environment.
It is important to remember, we are all in this together and must share in the responsibilities to keep everyone safe. HSENI have set out helpful and specific guidelines for keeping us all safe during the current COVID 19 pandemic.
Employers must consult with employees and/or their recognised trade union appointed health and safety representative, or other representatives, on the required steps to keep the workplace safe from the virus. Employers and employees and/or their recognised trade union or other representatives have a shared responsibility to work together to resolve concerns about safety in the workplace.
The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 contain laws and guidelines to protect you and most employers will genuinely want to protect you and their businesses. However, in extreme cases where employers are blatantly breaking the law and putting people in harms way, there are public bodies here to protect you and legislation to enforce your Health & Safety rights.
You also have a responsibility as an employee to comply with your employers requests to keep you safe [as set out by the Department for the Economy]. Reasonable genuine requests from your employer should be adhered. Most employment lawyers and more important, tribunal judges will not tolerate people trying to abuse this or any other legislation.
We have provided you with several links to the most important organisations regarding your safety and advice. However, children's safety comes under a very special category and the rights of children must be protected.
Under the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (NI) 2015, Governments have a duty to improve the well-being of children and young people, and requires that for the purpose of determining children’s well-being, regard is to be had to the relevant provision of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that, having been designated by the employer to carry out activities in connection with preventing or reducing risks to health and safety at work.
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