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Information for health care workers is available on Coronavirus guidance documents are available on

Identifying essential health services and social distancing at work

Social distancing is crucial to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.

We have a responsibility to reduce workplace contacts as much as possible. To reduce the number of workplace contacts, every opportunity and flexibility should be explored.

Advice for managers

Managers must assess the need for staff to work from health sector locations while delivering critical services.

Your assessment should include:

  • flexible shifts and staggered shifts
  • extended opening hours and weekend working
  • redeploying staff to other work areas or locations
  • alternative temporary assignment

Use a risk assessment prompt sheet to assess social distancing in a non-clinical environment

You should work with senior managers to control the number of staff in each location.

Tracking staff numbers may involve:

  • keeping schedules or registers of staff attending each day
  • issuing access passes to limited numbers each day

Once all flexible working options have been explored you can then consider supporting staff to work from home.

Find more information here about getting your team ready to work from home

Set out a work plan for staff who will work from home and agree on a reporting system for the duration of the arrangement.

Essential Services

You must identify staff members who are essential to health services and are needed to attend work.

Once identified, each service should give staff members a completed and signed copy of this template letter confirming that they provide essential services. Staff may be stopped on their way to work by Gardaí. The letter will allow them to travel to and from work.

For more guidance on identifying essential staff members read : HR Circular 019 2020 - Essential service under new Public Health Guidelines COVID-19

Advice for staff

We must make sure that we are facilitating social distance measures in health sector workplaces.

To do this, your manager will require you to make adjustments to your work pattern, hours or work location. This is to guarantee the required social distance needed between colleagues.

You may also be asked to alternate between your home and work base or to work from home exclusively.

Home working or flexible arrangements put in place as part of our COVID-19 response will not continue beyond the outbreak.

You may be recalled, and redeployed, if required.

Carry your HSE letter confirming your work is an essential health service, your health service ID, and a second form of ID with you at all times in the event that you are required to show Gardaí that you are on your way to or coming from work.

Risk assessment prompt sheet for social distancing in a non-clinical environment

HR Circular 019 2020 - Essential service under new Public Health Guidelines COVID-19

HR Circular 017/2020: Update re Social Distancing in the Health Sector

HR circular 014-2020 social distancing in the health sector (PDF, 315KB, 2 pages)

Page last reviewed: 31/03/2020
Next review due: 31/03/2023