By Stephanie Rohan

The Government will discuss a proposal to bring people back to work in the office in August, a month earlier than planned.

Leo Varadkar says he will ask NPHET to consider a phased return to the workplace sooner, saying most people will be fully vaccinated.

The original plan was to have workers back in the office by September but the Tanaiste is pushing for this to be brought forward to August.

Leo Varadkar says most people should be fully vaccinated by then and in this way workers would be settled into their new routine before the rush of school and college in September.

Leo Varadkar says it would be done on a phased basis – starting with meetings and training and antigen testing would have to be considered.

Numerous other factors have to be ironed out ahead including what happens if a worker isn’t vaccinated and doesn’t want to be.

Employment law solicitor Richard Grogan says it’s a tricky area.

“If an employee doesn’t answer the question, or says “no I’m not vaccinated”, then in those circumstances they take it they’re not vaccinated.

“Now that will cause problems later on, when vaccination has been rolled out, as to whether somebody can be redeployed, or whether the workplace can facilitate them coming back in that situation.”

Employers are already carrying out risk assessments in offices ahead of workers return while talks are ongoing between union reps and government officials about the office might look like post pandemic.

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