Helping Employees Overcome The 5 Challenges of Lockdown

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Many businesses are now having to think on their feet to ensure survival during lockdown and beyond, and HR Team’s experts are on-hand with commercially focused advice on how to make the right decisions.

Helping Employees Overcome The 5 Challenges of Lockdown

Director, Breda Cullen, says HR Team’s consultants are making a number of recommendations on how to implement the various options available to employers faced with very difficult decisions at this time. The key employment challenges in lockdown

1. Adhering to the latest government guidelines and restrictions in Ireland

2. Making temporary lay-offs or introducing short-time working

3. Considering redundancies

4. Homeworking Employers have a number of options available to deal with these challenges, as their businesses face operational reductions and closure.

Lay-offs and short-time working:

• Temporary lay-off is an option when an employer is temporarily unable to provide an employee with the work for which they were employed.

• Short-time working is also an option when operations have been reduced. Short-time working means employee’s hours of work or pay are reduced to less than 50% of normal weekly working hours or normal weekly pay.

• The legislation does not specify notice periods as to when employees should be notified regarding temporary layoffs or short-time working.

• There must be an explicit and agreed contract clause with an employee to exercise the above. Reduced hours of work

Many Employers are reducing hours of work either via short-time working or through consultation. It is very important to follow a process:

• Speak to employees first.

• Explain the changes you need to make.

• Explain the reasons for the change.

• Employee circumstances should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

• Other alternatives to be considered, such as redeployment.

Redundancies

• In the first instance, unless you are sure that the role is permanently not needed, you can continue with a temporary lay-off or short-time working

• This situation can be reviewed periodically in line with government announcements and the public health authorities. There are two key requirements when considering redundancy. There must be a genuine redundancy rationale and a meaningful consultation process carried out prior to making the final decision.

The redundancy process for employers:

• Put employees ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

• Consult with all employees who are affected.

• If there are more individuals than jobs, and you plan on keeping some staff, conduct a selection process using objective-based criteria such as experience, qualifications and length of service.

• Consider if you need to apply collective consultation.

• Seek volunteers if appropriate.

• Issue redundancy.

• Provide opportunity to appeal.

Homeworking considerations for employers

• Ensure a safe working environment and have a homeworking agreement to clarify terms and conditions.

Clarify pay arrangements and hours of work for homeworking.

• Provide the relevant equipment and materials needed for homeworking.

• Clarify if telephone and internet costs will be reimbursed or be at the cost of the employee with guidance on security of information, data protection and confidentiality of data.

What’s next?

• Review where your business is positioned in terms of level 5 restrictions.

• If your business is closing, ensure that temporary lay-offs are notified in writing and continue to communicate with staff throughout.

• If you remain open, ensure you have a robust safety strategy in place. Where short-time working is to be introduced, ensure you communicate clearly in a letter to employees that their hours may be reduced.

• If you are making redundancies, ensure you follow the correct consultation process.

• In homeworking situations, ensure employees working from home have full clarity on a homeworking policy.

Do you have an employment law or human resources question?

We help business start-ups, SMEs and large multinational organisations. Call to speak to us today on any aspect of employment law or strategic human resource services. Tel 01 695 0749 or NI 028 71 271 882.

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