COVID Compliance Officers needed to ensure businesses follow protocols, says ACOI

galway daily social distancing covid compliance officer

As the country begins to de-escalate COVID-19 related restrictions, social distancing and other protocols will be on the minds of managers and business owners in every industry.

The Association of Compliance Officers Ireland believes ‘COVID Compliance Officers’ may need to become commonplace, if only temporarily, to ensure businesses meet any rules and guidelines issued by the government.

The government outlined its plan to ease the restrictions last week, with each phase in the plan seeing different businesses being allowed to reopen.

Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the ACOI, said that instead of looking at the landscape beyond the COVID-19 crisis, we have to prepare for how to live with the virus.

“While there have been rumblings that we may be edging closer to opening the country up for business again, it is widely accepted that rather than preparing for ‘life after COVID’, we will have to set ourselves up for ‘life amidst COVID’ – until such time as a treatment is found,” said Michael Kavanagh.

“This means businesses will have to adapt and change according to what the relevant authorities advise.

“Organisations will have to adhere to strict rules to ensure we hold our ground in the fight against the spread of the disease.

“In order to do this, employees and management will need to know exactly what they have to do. Invariably, one person, or even a team of people, depending on the size of the organisation, should be tasked with ensuring compliance in this regard.”

The ACOI is advising the dedicated COVID Compliance Officer could be an existing compliance officer, or another senior employee or member of management within the company. 

“By appointing someone to the role of COVID compliance regulator, the HSE and Gardai will have a go-to person to interact with and support in terms of putting the necessary processes and procedures in place,” Mr Kavanagh continued.

“There appears to be a growing consensus that people will return to work on a phased basis based on national COVID-19 management targets being met, with those working outdoors possibly being the first to return.”

Mr Kavanagh said that in each workplace, someone will have to assess how employees and customers can adhere to new rules.

“This will need to happen, preferably, before businesses reopen and employees return to work. Our members have already had to act swiftly to ensure that new business models and organisational structures protect people and comply with the rules and regulations already in place. This is particularly true in the areas of data protection and financial crime.”