On the 9th of May 2020, the Government published the Return to Work Safely Protocol. This sets out a number of measures that workplaces must take in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as we reopen our economy.
The Health Service Authority (HSA) has responsibility for ensuring that employers are following the protocol and preparing and putting systems and controls in place. They will also be carrying out workplace inspections to ensure the Protocol is being implemented. Their approach is very much supportive.
At 29 pages long, the Protocol is quite a comprehensive document and there is a lot to take in, particularly for a small employer. So, we’re breaking it down and pulling out the key points that you need to be aware of moving forward.
The Protocol sets out a number of steps for employers and workers to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Each workplace must appoint at least one lead worker representative, who along with management will have responsibility for ensuring that COVID-19 preventative measures are adhered to. The Protocol very much promotes collaboration between the employer and employees, and having a Lead Worker Representative is very much key to having everybody working off the same page. For transparency and openness, it is also recommended that you create a log of everyone in your business who has COVID-19 responsibilities – that might be for cleaning or dealing with suspected cases. Download Template: Lead Worker Representative Log
In order to create a COVID-19 Response Plan that is specific to your business, you will need to complete a risk assessment. Look at how and where the virus could be transmitted in your workplace, and from that, you’ll learn what control measures you need to take to minimise these risks. If there is a change to how work is being carried out in your workplace then you will need to review your Health & Safety policies.
The next mandatory point is that all workplaces must develop a COVID-19 Response Plan. This is best thought of as a comprehensive catch-all document that deals with all points of relevance relating to COVID-19 and the workplace in one place. The Protocol specifically sets out the information you must include in your Response Plan, and this includes:
Bright Contracts has been updated with a template COVID-19 response plan which has been written closely following HSA guidelines and checklists.
A pre-return to work form must be completed by employees at least 3 days before they return to work. There are a number of prescribed questions that must be answered. The form allows employees to self-certify that they do not have COVID-19 symptoms or have not been in close contact with any confirmed or suspected cases over the last 14 days. You can get a return to work form template from the HSA website.
In communicating with employees upon their return to work, it would also be advisable to establish whether or not they might be considered as a vulnerable worker. There is a HSE webpage that sets out who high risk groups are, you might consider sending this to employees and asking them to notify you if they fall into any of the categories. If they do fall into a vulnerable category you do have a duty of care to take extra precautions to protect that individual.
Upon returning to work all employees must be given COVID-19 induction training. At a minimum, this training should include:
The training doesn’t have to be overly complicated and you should consider giving this training yourself. If you have a well put together COVID-19 Response Plan, this could double up as your training material for staff. Be sure to keep a record that the training has taken place and note who has attended. If you have any new starters in the coming months, they also should be given the training.
You should keep a log of all close contact, group work and employee interactions that take place. The logic behind this initiative is to be able to assist with contract tracing, should it be required.
Finally, when you’ve done all of the above you may want to look at reviewing and updating some of your existing policies. For example your Sick Leave Policy should really be updated to reflect COVID-19 - the protocol specifically requires employers to review and revise their existing sick leave policies. You might also want to consider putting in place a Working from Home policy if that is the norm in your company, or updating the Annual Leave and Mental Health policies.
Interested in finding out more about Returning Staff to Work? Click here to watch our most recent webinar on-demand where we discuss the Return to Work Safely Protocol, common questions on the practicalities of bringing staff back to work and the payroll implications of returning staff to work.
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In January 2019, we saw the biggest overhaul of the Irish PAYE system since it was introduced. PAYE modernisation requires employers to submit the details of each employee’s pay to Revenue on or before each payday. The new real-time reporting system meant that all forms relevant to payroll taxes (P30, P35, P60, and P45) were abolished. Instead, Revenue issues employers with a monthly statement based on the submissions made by the employer with a summary and breakdown of the total liability due.
It probably goes without saying, compliance with PAYE modernisation is compulsory, and the penalty regime is pretty stiff. The regime includes a fixed penalty of €4,000 for each breach of the PAYE legislation and a fixed penalty of €3,000 imposed on the company secretary for each breach.
With these high stakes, there are three big mistakes you need to avoid when it comes to PAYE modernisation.
We’d be lying if we said it was impossible to comply with PAYE modernisation manually. It’s possible, of course. But lots of things are technically possible: climbing Everest is possible, for example, but it’s difficult.
So yes, technically speaking, your business can go the DIY route to comply with PAYE modernisation. If you don’t have compliant software, the relevant information must be submitted to Revenue manually through Revenue Online System (ROS).
But why struggle when you don’t need to? With the right payroll software in place, the transition can be seamless while also offering many real-time reporting benefits to businesses and employees.
Outsourcing payroll compliance can be a fantastic way to eliminate administrative burdens and free up time. But fundamentally, PAYE modernisation compliance is the employers responsibility.
When you choose an outsourcing partner, you need to be certain that they are not going to overlook your real-time payroll reporting duties. Check with your payroll provider to see how they’re complying, and whether they’re using industry-standard, compliant software like BrightPay.
If you have - rather wisely - opted for the software route to comply with PAYE modernisation, there’s another decision to be made: choosing the right supplier.
There’s a lot of choices out there, but very few software suppliers can lay claim to BrightPay’s level of preparedness.
Before the introduction of PAYE Modernisation, we had already developed this real-time technology and API integration for our UK payroll software. The UK introduced similar real-time reporting requirements in 2013.
We’ve worked with Revenue from day dot to make PAYE modernisation a success, and our software makes compliance simple. Our previous experience allowed us to easily develop payroll integration features that seamlessly align with Revenue’s new reporting requirements.
BrightPay’s pedigree speaks for itself: BrightPay won Payroll Software of the Year 2018 and 2019 and enjoys a 99% customer satisfaction rating. So if you’re seeking the right software partner, look no further.
Book a demo today to discover how BrightPay’s award-winning software can improve your payroll reporting processes.
This webinar will examine key facts & updated guidance on COVID-19 payroll impacts. Understand what the lockdown easing will mean for your business as you reopen and what COVID-19 safety policies you need to introduce.
In recent months, Revenue have introduced COVID-19 Government schemes to help keep paying employees with a number of important updates being rolled out. The government has announced the first steps to ease the coronavirus restrictions with a roadmap in place for lockdown measures to be slowly lifted. Understand how to adapt your payroll processes to accommodate for the schemes and subsequent updates.
With the emergence from lockdown becoming clearer, businesses will need to start to put plans and COVID-19 policies in place for their employees to go back to the workplace safely. The Irish Government has introduced a Return to Work Safely Protocol for all businesses to follow. This introduces mandatory measures for organisations to take care of their people and safeguard their health and well-being.
All workplaces must adapt their workplace HR policies, procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE.
If you are unable to attend the webinar at the specified time, simply register for the webinar anyway and we will send you the recording afterwards. You can also click here to view more webinar dates.