A short update on two key issues: rostering of pregnant workers and guidance on childcare.
1. Pregnant and immuno-compromised workers
The HSE’s position until recently has been that pregnant nurses and midwives could be rostered to work in COVID-positive or potentially COVID-positive areas. The INMO strongly argued that this is not best practice and unacceptable. We sought that precautionary approach should be taken.
I am glad to say that we have made progress and that the HSE’s position has changed. They have taken our points on board and have updated their guidance as follows:
“Pregnant health care workers should therefore be allocated to patients, and duties, that have reduced exposure to patients with, or suspected to have, COVID-19 infection. It is specifically recommended to avoid rostering pregnant staff to COVID-specific units or wards, and redeployment to lower risk duties should be considered. Those pregnant staff who also have underlying medical conditions should discuss with their treating obstetrician as redeployment or working from home may be further advised."
You can read their new guidance here, which also sets recommendations for immuno-compromised workers and those with pre-existing conditions. These rights are important and hard-won: if you face any difficulty in this area at work, please contact your INMO rep immediately for action and support.
Despite the INMO constantly raising this important issue for our members, the government have yet to make a decision on providing childcare.
Therefore we now advise members who are unable to attend work due to lack of childcare, that they should formally notify their manager that you are seeking special leave with pay. This would be on the grounds of special family circumstance: school and creche closures, combined with a lack of alternative provision, have left you with no options for childcare.
If you have managed to arrange alternative childcare and now are incurring additional costs , please keep a record of these costs and advise your manager that you can come to work but it is at additional cost. Keep copies of this correspondence and advise the INMO if you require assistance.
As ever, all the latest updates on the issues you raise with us are on INMOCOVID19. We will keep you updated via that page, our social media channels, and by email.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
General Secretary, INMO