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Factsheet for measure IE-2020-21/1275 Updated – measures in Ireland

COVID-19 safety protocols agreed in the construction sector

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 22 May 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 12 October 2020 (updated 25 March 2021)

Background information

The Trade Union Federation – made up of the main construction unions, SIPTU, BATU and Connect – and the sectoral employer body, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) agreed a sector specific protocol consisting of specific COVID-19 arrangements for the construction sector.

The agreement was concluded in May and follows on from the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol. The construction agreement notes that the national protocol encourages the development of sectoral agreements to further ensure safe workplaces.

Content of measure

In addition to the measures contained in the national return to work safely protocol, the construction sector agreement includes industry specific measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19 includes a monitoring system, improved access to sites for union representatives, alternative work patterns and temperature testing of workers. It also includes a complaints'procedure for COVID-19 issues.

The Sectoral Employment Order that governs construction pay and conditions sets out normal working hours, but the CIF/TUF protocol recognises that work patterns outside these hours may be “temporarily required” for COVID-19 safety, to reduce numbers on site at any one time.

As many as 30% of construction workers returned on 18 May 2020, but most of the others returned in the following weeks, as sites re-opened gradually. There are estimated to be from 80,000 to 100,000 site-based craft and operative workers.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

09 March 2021

In March 2021, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and the Trade Union Federation (TUF) signed a revised Return to Work Safety Protocol for the construction sector. This followed a closure of the construction sector - with the exception of certain essential construction - when Ireland entered Level 5 in January 2021.

Jean Winters, CIF Director of Industrial Relations said: "The Protocol demonstrates the commitment of both side to continue our collaboration to protect construction workers and their families from COVID-19 when work resumes on all sites. Brendan O'Sullivan, General Secretary, BATU said: "The Protocol identifies the voluntary encouragement for all workers to avail of the virus vaccines now been rolled out by the HSE. John Regan, SIPTU Sector Organiser, said: "The Protocol provides for ongoing and regular engagement between TUF and CIF."

According to specialist publication Industrial Relations News (IRN), "Encouragement of cooperation with vaccination and testing, as well as provisions on selection of workers when building sites re-open, are the main new elements in a revised construction industry protocol on COVID-19." "As well as the updated and new provisions, the agreement reaffirms “both sides’ commitment to ensuring COVID safety on construction sites”. The deal comes in the lead-up to the potential re-opening of the ‘non-essential’ elements of the construction sector next month, subject of course to public health advice at the time. (About 30-40% of the industry is currently operating on projects deemed ‘essential’ under current restrictions.)", according to IRN.

Use of measure

All construction workers and employers.


  • Health and safety

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Other groups of workers
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level


The Trade Union Federation - SIPTU, BATU and Connect - and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) agreed the sectoral protocol to ensure the safety of workers across the industry. The agreement was concluded in May and follows on from the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol. The construction agreements notes that the national protocol encourages the development of sectoral agreements to further ensure safe workplaces.

The agreement includes specific measures to deal with the threat of COVID-19 such as a monitoring system, improved access to sites for union representatives and a complaints procedure for COVID-19 issues.

Views and reactions

According to SIPTU Construction Sector Organiser, John Regan, the agreement provides for additional safety and health protection measures. “These measures are based on the principle of ‘prevention first’, the speedy correction of non-compliance and the closure of sites if the safety of workers is not ensured. If it cannot be done safely, it should not be done at all,” he said.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      F - Construction F41 Construction of buildings
      F42 Civil engineering
      F43 Specialised construction activities
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Building and related trades workers, excluding electricians


  • 12 October 2020: Construction sector protocol agreed with Trade Union Federation (
  • 12 October 2020: TUF agrees additional layer of protection for construction workers with CIF (
  • 12 October 2020: Agreement between TUF and CIF (
  • 09 March 2021: Construction trade unions and employers sign safety at work protocol for sites (
  • 11 March 2021: Vaccination, testing and layoff selection new to construction Covid deal (


Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 safety protocols agreed in the construction sector, measure IE-2020-21/1275 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.