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Labour Relations Agency (LRA): PRACTICAL GUIDE TO HYBRID WORKING (6 October 2021)

esterday, the Northern Ireland Executive published its Winter Covid -19 Contingency Plan, setting out its approach for the months ahead and outlining the various measures it could take to slow the spread of Covid 19 and protect the NHS should the need arise.

The full plan can be accessed HERE

In the Ministerial Foreword it states that the Executive has retained some basic, but necessary measures in law which include:

  • the retention of a legal requirement for face coverings in public indoor settings.
  • the continued legal requirement for risk assessments to be carried out in certain settings and for visitor and attendee details to be recorded to support the work of the Test, Trace and Protect system.

In relation to the work from home message, the Foreword states: “we will also retain a focus on flexible and hybrid working to reduce the number of contacts that take place in work settings – recognising that employers are well placed to engage with their workforce on the model that best suits their business.”


The Plan acknowledges that some baseline measures will be retained during the Autumn/Winter period. One of these baseline measures is to “Encourage flexible and hybrid working where practicable.”

The Plan recognises that the current message is to work from home where you can. For this Autumn / Winter the ‘work from home’ message will not be abandoned; the message will change to work from home “where practicable” instead of “where you can.”  It states:

Where practicable, employers are encouraged to facilitate their employees working from home. Employers that require staff to come into the workplace should complete a risk assessment and some may have introduced regular COVID-19 testing for employees as part of these measures.”

The Plan also states that:

Working from home where practicable remains beneficial over the autumn/winter period as it will help reduce the transmission risk inside and outside of the workplace, including by reducing the number of people taking public transport and the number of face-to-face meetings and social activities, and thereby reducing community and household transmission. Employers are well placed to engage with their workforce on the best model that suits the needs of their business.”

Commenting on people working from home or if they should be returning to the office the First Minister, Paul Givan responded there has always been guidance and there’s no change to the Executive view on “flexible and hybrid working”, but that employers are best placed to decide what suits their business model.

The Plan goes on to state that high levels of homeworking have played a very important role in preventing sustained epidemic growth in recent months.


The work from home message will continue over the Autumn / Winter months with a slight change from ‘work from home where you can’ to ‘work from home where practicable.’  Businesses are best placed to assess their needs to have employees in the workplace.