Employers report difficulties over unvaccinated workers, committee hears

ireland
Employers Report Difficulties Over Unvaccinated Workers, Committee Hears
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By Cate McCurry, PA

Some employers have reported difficulties with unvaccinated workers, with some staff objecting to the redesign of offices, according to a lobby group for employers.

Neil McDonnell, chief executive of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME), said that some employers are reporting issues with employees who are reluctant to return to workplace settings.

Mr McDonnell told the Enterprise, Trade and Employment Oireachtas committee that in other cases, employees want to return to work but offices are not properly set up to accommodate them.

“We’re also getting a lot of queries on the redundancy process, fair selection for redundancy, standard redundancy templates, levels of redundancy, payment and so on,” he added.

“We see this as indicative of the scarring effects of the pandemic which are going to hit us after Christmas.

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“We also are being inquired on changes to terms and conditions of employment to reflect reduced working hours or working from home.

“We have ongoing reports of difficulties with unvaccinated workers and similarly with issues around redesign of work, objections from work colleagues, and so on.”

Mr McDonnell called for the Companies (Rescue Process For Small and Micro Companies) Act 2021 to commence as there will likely be a “significant number” of SMEs becoming insolvent next year.

He also told the committee that there are recruitment problems as a result of the pandemic.

Employers are struggling to recruit general operatives, and engineers.

 

Many companies are seeking guidance on recruiting directly from abroad, as well as guidance on visa processing times for recruiting people outside the EU.

“It’s very likely that employers will press for more occupations to be taken off the ineligible occupations list,” Mr McDonnell added.

Meanwhile, there was criticism of the decision not to allow workers affected by the latest restrictions to claim the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) again.

Fianna Fáil senator Ollie Crowe said it was “totally unacceptable” for senior ministers to encourage people to leave the hospitality sector and get another job.

“To me, that’s not good enough,” he added.

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Solidarity People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy asked why financial business supports will continue until the end of the year, but PUP has been closed to many affected workers.

Declan Hughes, assistant secretary, Indigenous Enterprise, SMEs and Entrepreneurship Division, said: “In the situation where there are job openings, and there are opportunities and we see for example, in the retail sector.

“The retail and wholesale sector, where employment is above 2019 levels, we still have shortages in that sector. We know that there probably will be demand over the Christmas period for somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people and yet we have significant numbers still on the PUP.

“I think there are 12,000 people as of November 2, from the wholesale retail sector, who remain on the PUP and as I mentioned, there are the options there.

“We will need to work with the businesses to ensure that they can take back the people that were previous employees.”

He said that 60 per cent of PUP recipients are going back to their previous employers, while 12% are staying in the same sector, or moving to other sectors.

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