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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case IE-2020-38/1276 – measures in Ireland

Agreement on safety protocols for meat industry

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 18 September 2020
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Case created 12 October 2020 (updated 13 October 2020)

Background information

Meat Industry Ireland (part of the employer body Ibec) and SIPTU concluded an agreement on health and safety measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in the sector.

There have been more than 1,500 cases of the virus confirmed in the meat processing sector since the pandemic began and some facilities were forced to close temporarily as a result of the virus.

Content of measure

Measures to be undertaken under the code of practice include the following:

  • Mandatory temperature testing of staff and service providers;
  • Social distancing in canteens, locker rooms and other settings;
  • Hand sanitisation and general hygiene;
  • Staggered start and break times;
  • Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • Mandatory contact logging of staff, with only business-critical visitors allowed on site;
  • Perspex screens where two-meter distancing cannot be achieved, with screen to be cleaned regularly;
  • Daily symptom monitoring of all staff;
  • Isolation facilities to be provided and procedures implemented for dealing with suspected cases;
  • Staff returning to work from personal travel, leave or sickness to be pre-screened with line manager before starting work.
  • Physical distancing in offices and meeting rooms;
  • Farmers and livestock hauliers to leave vehicles only for direct unloading of livestock and at the lorry wash;
  • Refrigerated transport hauliers will not leave vehicles expect for external vehicle checks.

In addition serial testing of the workforce is to continue and temperature testing of workers on arrival at work will also continue.

It was also agreed that joint employer/worker forums will be established to ensure full compliance with precautionary measures agreed and adherence to the protocols.

Use of measure

Entire meat processing industry.


  • 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
Company / Companies
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 protocol was agreed by the employer and union sides following a number of outbreaks in the sector. It was agreed between Meat Industry Ireland (part of the employer body Ibec) and SIPTU.

A joint employer/worker forum will be established in a number of areas to ensure full compliance with these measures, Siptu said.

Views and reactions

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said that the document formalises existing measures in place in meat processing facilities, as well as drawing on the common ground in separate proposals put forward by MII and SIPTU. Director Cormac Healy said they were 'pleased to have worked with SIPTU' on the document, adding that “the sharp reductions in clusters in meat plants and the low rate of positive test incidence shown by the ongoing serial testing” shows that their efforts are working.

SIPTU manufacturing division organiser Greg Ennis said the union and MII 'will review the implementation and adherence to the protocol on an ongoing basis', with information on the protocol to be made available in all the national languages of the workers involved. He added that the agreement of the protocol 'demonstrates that there is a coherent approach by employers and workers’ representatives in the industry', putting health as the priority.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C10 Manufacture of food products
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Food processing, wood working, garment and other craft and related trades workers


  • 12 October 2020: Meat industry agrees COVID-19 safety document with SIPTU (
  • 12 October 2020: Agreement reached on safety protocols for meat industry (
  • 12 October 2020: Unions and meat processors agree safety protocol for workers in the industry (


Eurofound (2020), Agreement on safety protocols for meat industry, case IE-2020-38/1276 (measures in Ireland), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

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