After a challenging year of lockdown and the uncertainty that came with COVID-19, Ireland entered 2021 with a series of reforms and made important changes to their labor code which businesses need to be mindful of.
As lockdown restrictions ease up, employers must reevaluate the way they conduct their business practices and adapt to the new developments set by the law.
1. Redundancy Risks
Once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and forced businesses to close their doors, the government announced certain protection measures for employeeslaid-off due to downsizing. Now that the restrictions are being lifted, the government plans to discontinue the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme on December 31, 2021.
Employers should decide the pay-roll of their employees accordingly as they will not have the support of the government anymore.
Employers are encouraged to look for alternative options before they consider their workers redundant. The “suspension of the employee right to claim redundancy after a specified period of lay off or short time is also due to expire at the end of March,” as explained by an Irish employment law official.
2. Right to Disconnect
Sinn Féin, an Irish republican and democratic socialist party, and the Labor Party introduced “private member bills” under the Organization of Working Time Act, allowing remote employees a “statutory right to disconnect”. AnInterdepartmental Group developed a national strategy for working remotely, and with more people opting to work remotely, businesses can expect to receive further guidelines from the government in terms of managing remote employees.
3. Flexible Working Hours
Under this directive, employees will be granted the right to request flexible working hours which will allow employees to manage their personal responsibilities, such as parenting and household chores. Work-life has significantly changed for people across the board, and the Irish government is likely to include these changes in the employment legislation.
4. Online Harassment
Due to the migration of employees working from home, the risks of workplace harassment have also transformed. There is a chance that the contents of communication among employees may become offensive or inappropriate. There is a risk that some employees may exclude others or withhold information from their colleagues when everyone is working remotely. The onus falls on the employers to come up with a revised policy and update their code of conduct to limit instances of online harassment and bullying.
Due to the pandemic, countries and governments all over the world are working towards reviving their economies and improving the working conditions of their employees. Irish employers must work alongside the government to ensure better safety, limit redundancy risks, and offer flexible working hours for those working remotely.