Covid compliance officers could become the norm in Irish businesses

Data protection and financial crime are the top compliance issues currently affecting Irish businesses

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6 May 2020 | 0

As the Irish workforce contemplates what the working landscape will look like after the country emerges from lockdown, the issues of compliance and how to deal with Covid-19 related protocol are top priorities for managers and business owners in every industry.

With that in mind, the Association of Compliance Officers Ireland (ACOI) said that it may become common practice for businesses to appoint Covid compliance officers to help them adapt to government rules and guidelines.

“Businesses will have to adapt and change according to what the relevant authorities advise,” said Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the ACOI. “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.”

A dedicated Covid compliance officer could be an existing compliance officer, or another senior employee or member of management within the company, said Kavanagh.

Appointing a Covid compliance officer will give the HSE and Gardai a go-to person to interact with in relation to implementing the necessary processes and procedures.

“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,” said Kavanagh.

“In each workplace, someone will have to assess how employees and customers can adhere to new rules such as maintaining a two-metre distance from colleagues and other customers and minimising the level of face-to-face interaction. This will need to happen, preferably, before businesses reopen and employees return to work.”

Compliance issues

According to reports from its 3,000 members, the professional body added that the top two compliance issues currently affecting Irish businesses are:

  • Data protection: Keeping personal data secure online and in a WFH environment
  • Financial crime: The increase in digital, non-face-to-face transactions and managing ongoing monitoring at a time of significant change in client/user behaviour

“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,” added Kavanagh. “This is particularly true in the areas of data protection and financial crime.”

The ACOI are advising businesses and organisations that are preparing to reopen and have concerns around compliance to consult with the National Standards Authority and the Health and Safety Authorities – both of which are providing guides and information to those who require it.

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