Healthcare workers with childcare issues permitted to work from home in certain cases
New arrangements will see such workers given duties outside of normal role, says HSE
The HSE has introduced new arrangements for healthcare staff with childcare issues. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
Healthcare workers will be permitted to work from home in certain circumstances if they have no childcare support available under new arrangements introduced by the HSE.
In a circular issued on Monday to senior health service and hospital management, the HSE said there was no special paid leave available for those with care problems related to coronavirus restrictions but it set out a number of options open for staff facing difficulties, including flexible working arrangements.
The HSE said that where all alternative options had been explored and found not to be feasible, “the essential healthcare worker may be facilitated to work from home (WFH) and can be allocated different duties, outside of their normal role, that can be carried out remotely and support service needs”.
“Employees who are being facilitated with a WFH arrangement and are awaiting assignment of duties that can be carried out remotely are considered to be available for duty and will continue to be paid pending assignment of duties.”
The HSE said that while school closures were in effect across the country, “it should be noted that childcare services, including regulated childminders, and other existing childcare arrangements remain open and can continue to operate for children of essential workers”.
“In addition, a household of an essential worker, without an existing childcare arrangement, can form a bubble with another household for the purpose of providing childcare.”
The circular adds that in cases where none of these arrangements suit, employers should consider flexible working, such as adjusted hours and shifts, to facilitate essential healthcare employees to attend the work premises.
The measures that should be considered include longer work days or shifts that would allow for more days at home; working shorter days during the week and longer days at weekends when other care supports may be available; the swapping of days where part-time working arrangements are in place; and staggered starting and finishing times.
The HSE said employers and employees needed to be flexible and innovative in terms of ensuring that essential healthcare employees could continue to attend on site during this time while accommodating their childcare responsibilities where necessary.