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Most employers want to know if workers are vaccinated

ALMOST two thirds of private sector employers want to know if workers have been vaccinated, a major new survey has revealed.

ome 58pc of employers said they want “to ask if an employee has been vaccinated”, an Industrial Relations News conference heard this morning.

And 39pc said they wanted to be able to request proof of vaccination.

A minority of 23pc wanted to be able to request that non-vaccinated staff would not attend work.

The conference also heard that 41pc of employers are planning future redundancies, according to the CIPD/Industrial Relations News pay and employment practices 2021 survey .

Director of CIPD Ireland Mary Connaughton said we need to be very alert to the risk of redundancies in the coming months.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar has said employees do not have an obligation to reveal their vaccination status or other private medical information.

He said he is very reluctant to go down the road where employers have access to a worker’s vaccination status.

His comments came after ISME chief executive Neil McDonnell claimed there is a “disgraceful” lack of clarity about the rights of employers to know a worker’s vaccination status.

Meanwhile in an address to the conference, Taoiseach Michéal Martin said the government would ensure workers soon receive redundancy payments that were suspended during the pandemic.

He said a deferred payment arrangement will be put in place for businesses from September.

During the pandemic, the government suspended the right of laid off workers to demand their redundancy lumpsum entitlement when an employer could not guarantee work.

“We also temporarily suspended the right of employees to trigger redundancy claims, a necessary and I believe proportionate step to mitigate a risk to businesses and of course to jobs,” he told the conference, ‘A new social contract for post-pandemic Ireland?’

“As this measure is lifted at the end of September, we will ensure businesses in financial difficulties are supported with a deferred payment arrangement while ensuring employees receive their entitlements.”

He said the level of budgetary support to workers and businesses has been extraordinary with a total value of almost €38bn, worth nearly a fifth of national income.

Mr Martin said support for workers cost approximately €13bn to date, mainly through the pandemic unemployment payment and wage subsidy schemes.

He said Covid posed huge challenges for the government, in managing the pandemic itself but also in tackling the consequent economic and social challenges.

“Much of our response to the pandemic can be categorised as unprecedented,” he said.

“Nowhere is that more clear than in the steps government has taken to protect workers and businesses.”

He said the government intervention has been effective, and its economic recovery plan is based around getting people back to work.

The ambition is to have 2.5 million people in work by 2024.

He said many of these jobs will be in new areas aligned with the government’s “green and digital ambitions”.

Mr Martin said we are at a “tipping point”, globally and nationally.

He said Covid highlighted everyone’s dependence on the state and public services at a time of crisis.

Mr Martin said it reinforced the importance of frontline workers in sectors like retail and transport, “who have maybe not been valued enough”.

He said the government is looking at how dialogue with social partners can be strengthened, and a new unit in his department is working on this.

Mr Martin said the government managed to secure a public sector pay agreement that aws an “important source of stability during challenging times”.

He said the government has an “ambitious and forward thinking agenda of reforms” for the world of work.

Mr Martin said remote working will play a much bigger role than before and the proposed legislation on the right to request remote working was a response to this.

“We’ve introduced a code of practice on the right to disconnect, which gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours,” he said.

“We recognised however that remote working does not work for everyone, or for every organisation. A balanced approach will be required.”

He said the government will enhance protections for employees in a redundancy situation due to company insolvency through legislative amendments.

The decision to introduce a statutory sick pay scheme for all workers could be seen as a “practical learning from the Covid-19 experience”, he said.

Mr Martin said the government decided it was timely to review the industrial relations landscape in Ireland, including collective bargaining through a high level working group.

“While there is an extensive range of statutory provisions designed to back up our voluntary bargaining processes, some of these are currently subject to legal challenge,” he said.

“There are also significant moves at EU level, which are looking more closely at how employers and unions engage on matters of mutual interest.”

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