COVID 19 – FAQ's and Advice for Employers and Employees

NOTE: The following frequently asked topics were published on the 31st January and while every effort is made to keep the information and advice contained on these webpages current, business owners / employers / employees need to check the latest public health advice   


Are specific groups of employers required to undertake a risk assessment with regard to COVID-19 and potential workplace exposure?

Yes, where the nature of the work poses an occupational exposure health risk to working with COVID-19 such as in healthcare and laboratory settings, employers are required to ensure that an appropriate Biological Agents risk assessment is carried out. Suitable control measures should be identified and implemented to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. These measures should be communicated to all relevant employees and others at the place of work.

Biological Agents risk assessments should be regularly reviewed and updated based on current best practice. Further information on employer duties under the Biological Agents Regulations is available here on the HSA website. Employers are also reminded to review their occupational health and safety risk assessments to take account of any changes to the work activity that may arise following implementation of public health recommendations.

Return to the workplace

On the 21st January 2021 the Government announced an easing of public health restrictions. From 24th of January, the requirement to work from home unless it is necessary to attend the workplace in person ended and a phased return to physical attendance in workplaces can commence. This phased return can proceed dependent on the circumstances of individual workplaces, informed by consultations with workers, and as appropriate to each sector. For further details on easing of public health restrictions see

On foot of the latest public health and Government The Transitional Protocol: Good Practice Guidance for Continuing to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19, a revision of the Work Safely Protocol, was developed which reflects the lessons learned to date and places a greater emphasis on guidance and best practice to support the safe return to physical attendance in the workplace. It should also be noted that employers, in consultation with their workers, may also consider maintaining some of the practices that were introduced of the Work Safely Protocol, as last published on 14 January 2022.

Lead Worker Representative (LWR)

The appointment if the Lead Worker Representative during the pandemic has facilitated good communication and co-operation of workers and/or their Trade Union or other representatives in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. As some restrictions still remain, the role of LWR will continue to facilitate good communication and engagement.

Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests (RADTs) for COVID-19 in the workplace

Certain Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Tests for COVID-19 have been developed so that they can be used outside of a laboratory environment. The tests are classified as in-vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) and must be CE marked. Their use in the workplace remains a voluntary option.

Employers, in consultation with their workers and their representatives, may decide to adopt a RADT regime in the workplace. Employers may also get advice on establishing a programme of testing from their occupational health or medical service.

If a RAD testing system is put in place, employers must maintain personal information collected in line with GDPR requirements.

Notwithstanding any local antigen diagnostic testing arrangements, it is essential that symptomatic individuals isolate.

For further details on RADTs, please visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority website.

As an employer do I have to provide sanitary and washing facilities for visiting workers e.g. drivers delivering goods?

Although there is no specific Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requirement to provide sanitary and washing facilities for visiting workers, there is a duty for employers to cooperate. It is not

unreasonable for workers who visit a work premises, for example, drivers making collections or deliveries, to request and be given access to toilet and hand- washing facilities.


The HSE is responsible for the roll out of the vaccination and booster programmes and they have specific information and resources available on their web pages. The decision to get a vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary.

For further advice on vaccination for workplaces working with the virus e.g. healthcare, laboratories, please see our FAQs on vaccination for those working with biological agents.

Where can I find COVID-19 vaccination information?

We encourage everyone to read about the COVID-19 vaccine and to get their information from a factual, trusted source – here are the links to the pages with information on the vaccine:

Managing Work Related Stress during COVID-19

There are as many formal definitions of stress as there are subjective experiences of it. Each stressful situation differs slightly in how badly it affects us and for how long those effects last. There are many causes. Some interact with each other to result in a more extreme stress reaction. All stress has in common an element of panic, frustration, loss of control and negative physiological changes. Our behaviour also changes and we interact differently with others.

A working definition of stress is such that a person perceives that there are social/psychological demands placed on them, which they feel unable to meet. This inability causes them on-going distress.

Acute versus Chronic Stress

An Acute stress reaction is one where a sudden event (called a ‘stressor’) has sudden consequences just after the event. Chronic stressors are longer-term, and their consequences slowly unfold and can extend over periods of weeks or months. Chronic stress results when the causes remain into the long term and the individual therefore has no respite from it. It has more serious psychological and social consequences and can lead to mental health issues, psychiatric illness and/or disorder. The Global Pandemic COVID-19 was an acute stressor which became a chronic stressor when restrictions were in place and it was unclear when they would be lifted or when a vaccine would be become available.

The skillsets and coping mechanisms we have developed for other shorter-term stressors are unlikely to help us as much in the longer term as they did in the short term. However, we can built upon those skillsets developed in the early days to help us going forward.

Managing Mental Health at Work during COVID-19

COVID-19 is a stressor, which has interfered with elements of everyone’s life, and so is undoubtedly a chronic global stressor. It puts increased demands on us from many angles and invades many areas of our lives. It reduces our control over our and our loved ones’ lives, our health, changes how we work, alters our financial wellbeing, and it decreases our access to regular social support from activities enjoyed with friends and family. It strains most of our relationships, alters our roles and it has and continues to change our lives, thus bringing mental health challenges.

Health & Safety Authority · Returning to the Workplace

As employees return to work, their mental wellbeing should be addressed within any novel Risk Assessments and Control measures devised. Those returning to the workplace will have changed their methods of work, their attitude to work, their insights into the value of work and their motivation to work. Ignoring this changed social and psychological environment of the workforce would not make for a complete or adequate policy approach.

Work PositiveCI is a FREE State and stakeholder supported psychosocial risk management process that helps organisations identify ways to improve employee wellbeing:

HSA Podcasts and video resources for managing health and wellbeing including Questions and Answers on Stress and Bullying at Work

Mask wearing

Mask wearing is still required in the following settings:

  • public transport, taxis and at stations/airports/ports
  • retail premises (including shopping centres, libraries, cinemas, theatres, museums, post offices, banks)
  • public offices and at premises providing specified services and businesses (incl. salons, hairdressers, travel agents, laundries, dry cleaners, bookmakers)
  • customer facing roles in premises where food and beverages are sold for consumption on the premises

Public Health continues to advise it is good practice to wear face masks in crowded areas. You will find videos on how to safely put on and remove a face covering/mask in clinical and non-clinical settings – see video resources section for further information. Workers should continue to follow good practice on the safe use, storage and disposal.

Further details can be viewed at

Cleaning and waste disposal in the workplace

People may become infected by touching surfaces that have been contaminated by COVID-19 when touching their eyes, nose or mouth, without cleaning their hands. Workplaces should therefore maintain thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

See section C7 of the Transitional Protocol

Workers should continue to follow the advice provided by their employer and follow good practice on the safe disposal and cleaning of face masks/coverings.

HSA Employer Checklist on Cleaning and Disinfection

Contact logs and contact tracing requirements

There is no longer a requirement to maintain a contact log with details of workers and visitors to the workplace. However, it may be continued good practice for employers to keep such logs, as they may still need to provide details on attendance in the event the Department of Public Health has to investigate an outbreak.

The Data Protection Commissioner has provided advice on processing data for contact tracing.

Contact Tracing Guidance is available at

Procedures for the workplace if a worker is confirmed as COVID-19 positive

COVID-19 is an infectious disease and rapid self-isolation (even if fully vaccinated/boosted) is an important measure in preventing or reducing its spread in the workplace and community. Anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is required to self-isolate, and follow Public Health advice.

Further information on getting tested for COVID-19 is available at The HSE website also has the most up to date information and advice on close contact, self-isolating and restricted movements.

If a worker tests positive for COVID-19, they should telephone their employer to let them know they have tested positive for COVID-19 if they were in the workplace

  • 48 hours before their symptoms began
  • 24 hours before their positive COVID-19 test result – if they did not have symptoms of COVID-19.

If a worker displays any symptoms of the virus in the workplace the procedures in place in the Transitional Protocol for dealing with a suspected case should be followed.

Managing legionella risks during and after return to the workplace

The Authority has produced guidance to support employers with control of Legionella bacteria during and after return to the workplace. The Guidance highlights the requirement to continue managing

Legionella control to avoid the potential for Legionnaires’ disease. This disease can be fatal and hospitalisation is generally required to treat symptoms. A copy of the guidance can be found here.

Use of hand sanitisers

Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and bacteria. Alcohol or non-alcohol based hand sanitisers can also be used where handwashing facilities cannot be accessed. Where an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is used, it must have an alcohol content of 60% or above. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are highly flammable and must not be stored or used near heat or a naked flame.


Ventilation will not stop the spread of COVID-19 on its own and although the requirements around physical distancing measures have been removed, it is still good practice to adopt a physical distance. Further advice on ventilation in enclosed workspaces is available at

The Health and Safety Authority has developed a Ventilation Checklist to help employers, business owners and managers to consider what ventilation measures are already in place in their workplace, and where improvements can be made.

The checklist has four sections:

  • Ventilation checklist
  • Mechanical ventilation systems (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning HVAC) (if in use) checklist
  • Poorly ventilation work areas
  • Other actions to consider following ventilation changes

Guidance on non-healthcare building ventilation is available from

Guidance for employers and workers on Fitness for Work (following COVID-19)

Following an absence from the workplace due to COVID-19 or a suspected case of COVID-19 employers will need to assess and determine a worker’s fitness for work. To help with this process the HSA has produced Interim Guidance for Employers on Fitness for Work. Employers should consider this guidance within their current sick absence and illness policies and procedures. The document also contains 3 interactive checklists that employers can use:

  • Checklist A: Returning to work following a suspected case of COVID-19
  • Checklist B: Returning to work following a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Checklist C: Worker unfit to return to work following a confirmed case of COVID-19


What is the Risk Group Classification for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)? 

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is classified as a risk group 3 biological agent in the Code of Practice for the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 and 2020 (S.I. No. 572 of 2013 as amended by S.I. No. 539 of 2020). Schedule 4 of the Code of Practice addresses SARS-CoV-2 and laboratories. 

Advice on the requirements for laboratories undertaking diagnostic and research work with SARS-CoV-2 

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been classified as a risk group 3 biological agent under Commission Directive (EU) 2020/739. The Health and Safety Authority has published the Code of Practice for the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations to reflect this classification.  


Do I need to notify the Health and Safety Authority if an employee contracts COVID-19? 

The inclusion of SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19) in the 2020 Biological Agents Code of Practice (effective from 24th November) introduces reporting requirements under Regulation 12 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013, as amended for certain workplaces e.g. healthcare or laboratories.  

An employer who becomes aware of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an employee (e.g. informed by a medical practitioner, public health or other health professional) as a result of the employee carrying out work with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) should  notify the Authority. A medical practitioner may also notify the Authority on behalf of the employer. 

In the case of a death of an employee from COVID-19, where it has been established that the death was because of the employee’s work with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the employer (or medical practitioner) must notify this death to the Authority. 


How do I determine if a case of COVID-19 is work-related? 

There are two scenarios where occupational exposure to biological agents can occur: 

  1. Occupational exposure to SARs-CoV-2 can result from carrying out work activities that involve a deliberate intention to work with the virus e.g. propagating the virus in a research laboratory.   
  2. Occupational exposure can also occur incidentally from specific work activities involving direct exposure to the virus e.g. working directly with a COVID-19 patient, handling SARs-CoV-2 infected waste, conducting COVID-19 testing or carrying out diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in a laboratory.  

Establishing if an employee was infected with COVID-19 due to occupational exposure as a result of their work activities will require the employer to make a reasonable determination of the relevant circumstances.  

How do I report a case of COVID-19 or death resulting from COVID-19 to the Authority? 

An employer of medical practitioner may use the reporting template to report a case of disease or death resulting from COVID-19. Download the reporting template here

This form should be submitted by email to the HSA at 

Note 1: To reduce administrative burden for the reporting employer, the Authority will accept one reporting form covering several employees who share the same job/role. 

Note 2: The HSA online accident and dangerous occurrence reporting system must not be used to report cases of COVID 19 in employees. 


What work activities do not involve working with the coronavirus (SARs-CoV-2)?  

Employees in work settings such as retail, offices, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, transport (air, rail, bus) etc. are not working directly with the coronavirus (SARs-CoV-2) and therefore the Biological Agents Regulations would not be applicable to those places of work including the reporting requirements. 

In these workplace settings, employers should implement the requirements of the Transitional Protocol and the most up to date Public Health advice and guidance on how to mitigate the public health risk. These infection prevention and control measures should be communicated to workers and others at the workplace. 


Do I need to notify an outbreak at my workplace to the Authority? 

No, an employer is not required to notify an outbreak to the Authority.  All workplace outbreaks are notified through the Public Health system, which are then brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Authority.  

Where can I find further information on managing an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace? 

Outbreak Management Guidance available at   

Travelling for business or work purposes 

For advice on travelling for work purposes  

See COVID-19 travel advice at & the Department of Foreign Affairs website - 

The latest information on International travel is also available at -