Lay-offs imminent as employers face new lockdowns

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In light of the fresh lockdowns imposed in Dublin and Donegal, and with many other counties on the verge of following suit, a leading HR adviser says many employers will be forced to make temporary lay-offs and even redundancies.

HR Team Director, Breda Cullen, said: “Many businesses are now having to think on their feet to ensuring they survive through these ongoing turbulent times.

“Employers are having to consider repeat lay-offs while others are facing the prospect of redundancies, particularly in the hospitality industry. In other sectors, businesses are returning to a working from home arrangement, which comes with its own challenges.”

When the first lockdown was imposed in Ireland, just under half of the population (47%) had their employment situation affected – 14% having been made redundant and 33% temporarily laid off.

Ms Cullen, has said her firm is making a number of recommendations on how to implement the various options available to employers faced with very difficult decisions at this time.

HR Team Recommendations

Temporary Lay-Offs

“In normal circumstances, the law would dictate that employees should be given reasonable notice for a temporary lay-off situation. However, in this case, we would advise that employers endeavour to communicate clearly with their employees on the anticipated timeframes, as laid out by the government, and to follow this up with letters to staff. Temporary lay-off is without pay.”


Possible redundancy

“Many employers, particularly those who have just re-opened and have now been asked to close again, are considering more severe and permanent measures such as redundancy. Whether it is a large scale redundancy or a small number of redundancies, there are some very important legal requirements to adhere to in order to reduce the risk; most notably that a consultation process is followed.

“We would recommend that employers obtain specific legal advice on their own particular redundancy process, as there can be variables.” Ms Cullen added.

Home working

“Many employers have been operating a home working arrangement for some months now. Almost one third (34%) of employees began working remotely by May 2020. Whilst homeworking has its benefits for both the employer and the employee, it can also have its challenges.

“There is the potential for employees to become isolated or demotivated, and productivity can eventually suffer. We would recommend that communication is clear, regular and structured. In addition, a homeworking policy is absolutely pivotal to ensure employees are fully aware of their employer’s expectations. Likewise, employees should be encouraged to switch off when they are not working, to prevent ‘burn out’.” Ms Cullen advised.

She added: “As we enter unprecedented times in many aspects, employers must navigate the minefield of employment law to ensure legal obligations are adhered to, more so now than ever.”

For further advice on the impact of coronavirus on employers and how to handle staffing issues arising from the new restrictions, please contact HR Team in ROI on +353 1 695 0749 or in NI/UK on +44 2871 271882.

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