Covid-19 – Support Essential Services Confirmation
Sun Mar 29 2020
As promised, we are now updating the information sent to you at 15.30 on 28 March 2020.
It has been confirmed that insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people are on the list of essential service providers under new public health guidelines just published. A link to this list is provided here:
In addition to insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people, it should be noted that administrative and support service staff who are necessary to support other essential services are also included within the ambit of the Government direction. Included within the definition of “Administrative and Support Service Staff” are the following:
- employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
- security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
- cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities
Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary in the Department of an Taoiseach said on Saturday 28 March 2020: “If you carry out an activity that is necessary for the continued provision of an essential service by another organisation or you are part of an essential supply chain, you should continue to carry out that activity. “To the maximum extent possible, that should be done remotely.”
A link to the briefing from Saturday evening is provided here:
It is clear that the advice is to stay at home in all circumstances, except in the following situations
- to travel to and from work where the work is considered an essential service. You can see the full list of essential workers here
- to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products for yourself, your family or someone who is vulnerable or cocooning
- for vital family reasons including caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people but excluding social family visits
- to take brief individual physical exercise within your locality, which may include children from your household within 2 kilometres of your home and adhering to strict 2 metre social distancing measures
What does this updated advice mean for Brokers?
The clear advice from government is that workers must stay at home. There is an exception for some workers in key businesses. Insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people have been identified as one exception to the “stay at home” default position. Even so, these essential staff must provide that service from home if they may do so. If not, they may travel to and from the office. In those circumstances Brokers still have an ongoing legal obligation to provide a safe place of work and take steps to ensure that these staff do not contract coronavirus at work.
Brokers will therefore have to carry out a careful assessment of:
- which (if any) amongst the services your brokerage provides may be deemed an “insurance service necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people” and
- which staff are essential to the provision of that service and
- which staff are necessary to support the provision of that service
We suggest that Brokers document the careful assessment of the process of identifying whether you are carrying out insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people, referring to the list of essential services. Record how and why staff deemed to be essential are so and why their tasks cannot be carried out at home.
Employers are being told to refer to the guidance on the gov.ie website to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service. It is not necessary for you to seek official authorisation. You should identify employees – including sub-contractors – who are essential to the provision of the essential service and notify them.
All essential services should ensure safe working conditions are in place – in that regard please keep in mind that as an employer you have a legal obligation to provide a safe place of work for employees. Specific advice will be available from the Health and Safety Authority.
The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, stated in a press conference on 28 March 2020 that essential workers will be required to show identification and outline a brief work description when stopped by Gardai, who will be carrying out inspections.
Brokers should therefore ensure that essential staff, who cannot work remotely and have to travel to their place of work, to carry out insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people, or administrative and support service staff who are necessary to support the carrying out of insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people, should carry:
- Identification (Passport or Driving Licence)
- A letter from their employer identifying their place of work and certifying that they are a staff member essential to carrying out insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people, or administrative and support service staff necessary to support these essential insurance services. Include a description of what the work is.