Wednesday 17 July 2019

Taoiseach asks people not to take risks as employers urged to put workers' safety first

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Anne-Marie Walsh

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a blanket instruction to employers to shut up shop was not appropriate as the ‘Beast from the East’ worsened, but he urged everyone to put safety first.

Mr Varadkar said a one-size-fits-all command would not work because all workplaces are different, in terms of their location, where staff live and whether they can work from home.

But he asked people not to take risks when Status Red weather alerts are issued.

Mr Varadkar said although employers have no legal obligation to pay staff who do not turn up for work, he urged them to be sensitive and reasonable.

“Employers now need to assess whether to open, whether staff can work from home, and whether it is safe for their staff to travel to and from work,” he said.

“Each employer should make an individual assessment. They know their business, they know their employees and they are best to make that judgment.”

Business group Isme reminded its members that they have a duty of care for all workers under health and safety legislation.

“During Storm Ophelia, widespread business closures occurred at short notice,” said a spokesperson.

“While it is very possible that business closures will not be necessary on this occasion, businesses should prepare for the possibility.”

It said the general rule of thumb where an employer is forced to close, or cancel work, is to pay their staff, although some may have ‘lay off’ clauses in their contracts.

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