Workplace Health, Safety And WellbeingPosted in : HR Updates ROI on 8 July 2015
Health and Safety
Health and Safety in the workplace is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee and is of the utmost importance in all working environments. As employers we must be aware of the legislation that governs this area, paying particular attention to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and 2010.
An employer’s duties under the Act include the following:
- To complete risk assessments for all hazards arising from work activities to employees.
- To develop a safety statement that is kept up-to-date, brought to the attention of all employees and based upon the assessment of risk.
- To consult with employees in a timely manner on all safety and health matters.
- To provide all training in an understandable format or language.
It is important for employers to be aware that prevention of bullying in the workplace is also accounted for under this legislation - as well as under the Industrial Relations Act and the Employment Equality Act. Codes of practice under the legislation provide guidance on how to prevent bullying in the workplace and outline how bullying can be dealt with if it occurs. All workplaces should have a Dignity and Respect at Work Policy in place, including a policy on Bullying and Harassment
Employee assistance programme (EAP)
The purpose of an EAP is to provide employees and sometimes their families with confidential services to deal with personal issues from health to financial matters. By providing this service to your employees you are supporting the health safety and wellbeing of your employees both in and out of the workplace. When an employee avails of the programme they receive assistance with identifying and resolving personal concerns such as stress, marital, financial, health, dependency or other personal issues.
Personal issues can have a serious impact on job performance, productivity and sometimes employee safety. Incidents which occur in the workplace where employees are subjected to trauma at work, such as armed robbery for example, can also have a detrimental effect on employee’s performance and wellbeing. As it is management’s responsibility to oversee the performance of their employees it is important that they keep these issues in mind and ensure that employees are aware of the services offered by the company EAP.
Details of the company EAP should be contained in the employee handbook as well as on the staff notice board. Employees should be informed of the EAP service during their induction and offered information on the service as well as the contact details. With these contact details employees can contact the EAP directly but management may also refer employees to the EAP at any time if they deem it prudent to do so. In such cases management must be careful not to attempt analysis or judgement of the employee’s problem.
EAP services are highly confidential and management are not in a position to receive feedback unless the employee gives written consent. To assess how well the programme is being utilised, with consideration to the confidentiality of the programme - employers should be able to receive anonymous data each year. Generally this data will outline how many people used the service, how often it was used, if the service was more popular at certain times of the year etc.
Work Life Balance
By now we are all aware of the term work life balance and endeavour to establish the perfect equilibrium for both ourselves and our employees. When you consider work life balance it is important to remember that rest and time out have an extremely positive effect on overall performance. Down time, play time or enjoying our hobbies such as music, sports or art also has a positive effect on our performance and productivity. So it is important to not only take time out from work but to engage ourselves in our interests and hobbies also and to spend time with our family and friends.
A good work life balance includes working a standard amount each day from approximately five to nine hours, having interests outside of the work and taking sufficient rest and meal breaks during the day. Management should also aim to provide employees with their roster as far in advance as possible so employees can make plans for their after work activities. Supporting flexibility in the workplace can also improve productivity and morale.
Employers must also keep in mind the legislation that governs working arrangements and which protects workers’ rights to rest and leave entitlements. Some examples of this legislation are as follows:
- The Organisation of Working Time act which outlines rest entitlements
- Maternity Protection Act/ Adoptive Leave Act, outlining parent’s entitlement to time off to care for a new-born/newly adopted child.
- Carers leave which sets out the entitlement to time off to care for a dependent
- Force majeure leave which gives employees the right to leave work in the case of an emergency.
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.