Employers have been advised to consider their options in relation to Christmas parties, including the possibility of hosting them online.
HR organisation CIPD Ireland also advised employers to consider gathering people in smaller groups, or deferring until a later date, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
The advice comes as Cabinet approved a number of new Covid measures, including the extension of the use of vaccine passports.
Director Mary Connaughton said: “Health and safety in the workplace must be the number one priority for employers and employees. While many of us were hoping to be able to host an in-person celebration this year, the repeated advice to reduce ‘risk activities’ and rising coronavirus cases are all factors that are making it more difficult to plan a traditional event. Making the move to a virtual gathering, for example, would support employees to prioritise celebrating Christmas as safely as possible with their families and loved ones, without missing out on the workplace event."
CIPD Ireland is also suggesting that employers facilitate some wellbeing-related time off for their team.
Any new guidance about attending a workplace only when necessary is likely to align with current policies at some organisations, while for others it will mean rowing back the staggered workplace return which has been happening. CIPD Ireland "recommends that organisations follow government guidance and confirm their company working practices to employees as soon as possible, providing much needed clarity and reassurance to employees".
Ms Connaughton says there’s one group for whom a slowdown in the return to the workplace could cause particular concern
“Many people haven’t yet had the chance to return to on-site working and may be further impacted by social isolation from their work colleagues. Mental health and wellbeing concerns have escalated during the pandemic and need to be uppermost in employers’ minds, especially as winter approaches.”