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Attendance in the work premises

Due to the current Level 5 restrictions and the significant demands on essential healthcare services, you should familiarise yourself with:

Healthcare is an essential service. Health service managers should determine the roles that need staff to attend the workplace throughout the levels. This should take into account the different restrictive measures at each level. This is in accordance with Government advice in relation to essential workers

Health service managers should also identify the roles suitable for working from home (WFH) during this critical period of the pandemic. For employees whose roles can be done remotely, managers should facilitate WFH arrangements. This will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

WFH will also restrict footfall at the workplace. This is necessary to protect the health and safety of employees. It also ensures that health service employers are complying with current Government advice stating physical attendance at workplaces is permitted where services can only be provided in person.

Health service managers should therefore require their employees to work from home (if not already doing so). This does not apply to frontline healthcare employees across all staff categories whose physical presence is required at the workplace.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Work from home if possible.

Attend work for specific business requirements and on a staggered attendance basis.

Work from home if possible.

Only attend work for essential on-site meetings, inductions and training.

Work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person.

Only essential or other designated workers should go to work.

Work from home unless it is for working in health, social care or other essential service and cannot be done from home.

Working from home arrangements put in place due to COVID-19 are temporary. These arrangements should be kept under review in line with the provisions of the Resilience and Recovery Plan.

See: HSE Policy on Public Health Service Employees Working from Home during COVID- 19

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • support the health and wellbeing of health service employees temporarily working from home during COVID-19
  • ensure effective performance management and employee engagement
  • ensure that all employees are following good practice when working from home
  • support the effective delivery of high quality services

Frontline employees whose roles require on-site attendance

For frontline employees who must be present in the work premises during Level 5 restrictions, managers must ensure that workplaces implement robust return to workplace procedures. These procedures must comply with the HSE’s approach to the implementation of the Work Safely Protocol

Employees who must attend the workplace must follow the organisation’s COVID-19 response plan Cooperation between employees, the lead worker representative(s) and the employer are fundamental to ensuring that the measures are adhered to.

See also:

Supports and guidance from the National Health and Safety Function (NHSF)

HSE Occupational Health guidance documents for COVID-19

Face coverings

Health service employees who work in clinical settings must wear medical face masks. You will be advised of this mandatory requirement where applicable.

Office locations are not currently listed as locations where face coverings must be worn.

However, where face coverings are not a mandatory requirement for your substantive role, you must wear a face covering where it is difficult to achieve 2m social distancing.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • when entering and exiting buildings
  • public access areas of buildings, including receptions/foyers
  • when moving throughout buildings to toilets, photocopiers, on stairwells etc.
  • canteens and kitchen areas (prior to and after eating) or when using facilities such as boilers, toasters
  • travelling in a vehicle with someone you don’t live with - see staff travel during COVID-19

Managers should ensure that employees on-site during Level 5 restrictions comply with face coverings and other public health measures necessary to prevent the spread of the virus view here.

See: Government guidance on when to wear face coverings

Related document

HR Memo regarding attendance in the work premises and working from home during Level 5

HR Circular 056/2020 HSE Policy on Public Health Service Employees Working From Home during COVID-19


Employees or managers should contact their local HR or Employee Relations department.

You can also contact the National HR helpdesk:

Tel: 1850 444 925


Page last reviewed: 12/04/2021
Next review due: 12/04/2024