Posts Tagged ‘future of work’

What do the recent Government changes in redundancy mean for the employer?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Redundancy Changes September 2021

The Government has announced that the suspension of sections of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 will be lifted at the end of this month. It will also introduce a new special redundancy payment for those impacted.

The Government has confirmed that Section 12A of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, which suspended certain sections of the Act, will not be extended beyond 30 September 2021. The provision was introduced as an emergency measure in March 2020 to effectively suspend an employee’s right to seek redundancy if they had been laid off or put on short-time work due to the measures required to limit the spread of COVID-19 for the duration of the emergency period. It has been extended six times.

In addition, the Government has announced that it will make a special payment of up to a maximum of €1,860, to workers who have lost out on reckonable service while temporarily laid off over the course of the pandemic and who are made redundant. To support employers, where they are unable to pay statutory redundancy to their employees, the State will fund these payments from the Social Insurance Fund on their behalf. The Government states that a flexible and discretionary approach will be taken in relation to the recovery of these payments and in many cases the debt can be repaid over a number of years.

Reckonable service – employees

“Reckonable service” is the service that is taken into account when calculating a redundancy lump sum payment. It is important to note that reckonable service is a separate and distinct matter from the qualification threshold. An individual must first meet statutory qualification criteria before becoming eligible to receive a lump sum. As matters stand, a period of lay-off within the final three years of service before redundancy is not allowable as reckonable for the purposes of the calculation of this payment. Furthermore, it is the employers’ responsibility to pay statutory redundancy payments in the first instance.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has received legal advice to the effect that imposing the cost of the layoff period (if it were to be allowable as reckonable service) on employers would give rise to constitutional issues and is fraught with legal risk. Such an approach is also in direct conflict with the strategic aim of wider Government policy since the start of the pandemic to minimise financial hardship on businesses with a view to preventing permanent job losses.

Key points for employers:

  1. Selection criteria used in a redundancy process must be impersonal and objective, and applied fairly and uniformly;
  2. Caution should be exercised when using selection criteria based on performance, as these will be subject to extra scrutiny by an adjudication body. The criteria cannot be used a “cloak” to weed out a perceived under-performing employee and cannot be implemented in such a way as to target an individual;
  3. Particular caution should be exercised by smaller organisations when using selection criteria based on performance as the employer may be in a position to identify easily, in advance of setting criteria, who might be performing well and who might not; and
  4. Employers should give consideration to all alternatives to redundancy – and should use “creative thinking” when considering alternatives to redundancy.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Are employers in Ireland legally obliged to provide a pension scheme for employees?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Are employers in Ireland legally obliged to provide a pension scheme for employees?

Currently in Ireland there is no requirement, however employers are obliged to provide employees access to a PRSA – Personal Retirement Savings Account. Employers must facilitate this through payroll enabling employees to pay into their own personal pension.

The introduction of automatic enrolment is on the cards however it has been delayed until at least 2023. When this is eventually introduced, it will mean that both employers and employees will be required by law to make contributions to a workplace pension scheme.

Details of the scheme are still being ironed out by Government and it is hoped it won’t be delayed further.

This week is Pensions Awareness Week. You can join them for free financial information to help you invest in and secure your financial future.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Return to the Workplace Vaccine Protocol – Do you know what is required for your workplace?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

So many employers are unsure of the current vaccine protocol for employees returning to the workplace, do you know what is required for your workplace?

Voltedge has created a comprehensive guide addressing these questions.

 

Contact us at info@voltedge.ie to receive your copy.

 

What is Sickness Presenteeism? What are the Implications?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

What is Sickness Presenteeism? What are the Implications?

The dramatic rise in working from home as a result of the pandemic looks likely to become a permanent feature for many organisations, at least for part of the week. But while this brings many benefits to both employees and employers, it’s also likely to lead to an increase in working while ill. In the long term, this is not good for employees’ health and will require companies to actively encourage their employees to take time off when ill.

Working from home allows employees to balance caring responsibilities and other non-work commitments with work demands, as well as reducing commute times and decreasing job-related stress. The benefits to organisations include increased productivity and a greater flexibility from employees to meet employer needs such as conference calls outside core office hours.

Employees who work from home also tend to take fewer sick days than those who are office based. Many actually appreciate the ability to work from home while ill, as it allows them to keep on top of their workload, while avoiding the strain of commuting to the office or working a full day. It also prevents workers spreading contagious illnesses to their colleagues – something at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment.

So working with a mild illness is not necessarily a bad thing. Known as “sickness presenteeism”, the decision is influenced by a number of factors. These include your company’s sickness absence policies (and how they are applied by managers), the employee’s financial pressures, whether there is paid sick leave, high workloads, tight deadlines and job insecurity.

Voluntary sickness presenteeism can have other positive benefits. If an employee has a chronic or long-term condition and wants to work despite their illness, supportive working arrangements such as flexible working or homeworking can help employees stay in the workforce and aids retention for the employer.

But if employees feel pressured to go to work despite being ill, research suggests it can have negative consequences for both the employee and the company.

A number of longitudinal studies, where researchers collected data from the same workers over a period of time,  found that working while sick can increase the risks of poor health in the future. It also increased the risk of workers having to take more time off due to sickness 18 months later.

Sickness presenteeism also has consequences for mental health. Research shows that if someone had worked while ill in the previous three months, their psychological well-being had been negatively affected. Some employees also felt down or irritable or found it hard to make decisions.

For some, this lasted another two months. Meanwhile, other research has found that working whilst sick increased the risk of depression two years later, even though the workers were not depressed at the first measurement point.

Role of the Employer

Companies generally want to keep employee absence due to sickness as low as possible, as obviously there is a knock-on effect on productivity, efficiencies and profit. Presenteeism (where the employee turns up but is not fully functioning – due to illness or other reasons) is often viewed positively if the alternative is sick leave, as employees will get some work done and their role will not need to be covered by co-workers.

Working at home makes it harder for managers to determine when employees are ill – so they are less likely to tell people to take sick leave. In order to keep sick employees from working, companies need to actively encourage employees to take time away from work.

As an employer, we also have a responsibility to ensure that genuinely ill employees are NOT attending work (wherever that work is) as there may be insurance implications – so this must also be considered when dealing with ‘vague, mild illnesses’. With any serious illness, it is very important that the employer ensures that the employee is not working.

A recent study found that workers diagnosed with acute respiratory illness or influenza during the 2017-18 influenza season were more likely to carry on working if they could work from home than those without the option. Perhaps not surprisingly, workers who received paid leave worked fewer days while ill.

A key aspect of research into sickness presenteeism is that often the seriousness of the illness is unknown. In many cases, employees can still work with minor illnesses (such as colds etc.) and it will not harm their health in the long term. But workers and employers need to be aware of the potential health risk of working through health conditions that require rest and time to recover.

Companies who concentrate on controlling sickness absence in the short term may be encouraging sickness presenteeism in the longer term and risk prolonging an illness or making a health condition worse. Just because we can work from home when we are ill, it doesn’t always mean that we should.

Key takeaways for employers:

Encourage employees to take the necessary time off when ill.   If an employee takes the decision to work from home while ill, check in with them to ensure they are not putting undue strain or pressure on themselves and make sure there is flexibility with their work schedules and deadlines.

Lead by example – managers in particular should show that it is acceptable to take the needed time off to recuperate from illness.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Designing the workplace of the future – A new guide for all employers

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

The world of work was shaken to its core in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ireland and hundreds of thousands of Irish workers had to suddenly work from home.

The slow and steady drive towards digitalisation accelerated sharply, and virtual meeting programmes such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams became commonplace. Now, 15 months on, and with the vaccination programme well underway, employers can begin to think about a return to the workplace – hopefully permanently. But the many lessons learned during the pandemic has had both employers and employees thinking about the future workplace – will we ever go back to the way it was? And do we want to?

Voltedge Management, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, have produced a new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work, which aims to help business owners think about the positives and negatives from the last 15 months and to use these to build a sustainable business model for the future. With many employees welcoming the idea of remote working into the future, either full-time or for part of the week, is it time for employers to recognise the positives of remote working and tie it into their company policy on a permanent basis? And if so, how can they make it sustainable?

“This is a follow-on from last year’s Covid-19 employer guide; last year we looked at the health and safety aspects of returning to work, while the theme of this year’s guide is around the future of work,” explains Karen Hernández, Senior Executive, Client Management Development at Enterprise Ireland. “During Covid, the workplace has changed, the nature of work has changed for a lot of people, and what employees expect from their employers has changed. Our aim is for all companies to be prepared to put in place the right structures and practices that suit their business needs and also the needs of their employees.

“A large portion of our client base experienced the need to rush into remote working when Covid-19 hit Ireland in 2020. There have been some advantages and opportunities associated with this; some businesses found they’re as productive, if not more productive when working remotely. This guide aims to help companies take what’s worked well over the last 15 months and create some sustainable practices and processes that work for everybody.”

The guide was developed in partnership with Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones of Voltedge, a highly regarded HR consultancy based in Dublin. “The objective with the guide is that it gives you a framework to start developing your own plan for the return to the office,” explains Fredericka. “All organisations are going to have their own dynamic, their own set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Our aim was to identify key pillars for organisations to use to develop structure and a suitable framework for their business.”

The importance of asking questions

A huge emphasis is placed on the need for communication with employees when making these decisions. “Employers need to engage with and actively listen to their employees, while also driving their business forward,” says Joyce. “This is intended as a broad guide, where employers can pick and choose the relevant pieces to them.”

“It’s very important that employees feel that they’re being heard,” adds Fredericka. “However, decisions need to be made based on a number of factors, and employee input is just one of those factors. Obviously it’s really important to manage expectations and sometimes it’s just down to how you ask the questions. Give them some context from a business point of view. It’s not just about the employees’ wish-list, it’s also about creating a sustainable workplace for the future.”

Managing remote workers

Many employers are looking at keeping some sort of remote or flexible working practices in place – and offering this flexibility can be very positive when it comes to attracting talent. “Almost two-thirds of our client base are saying they find it hard to attract, engage and retain talent,” says Karen. “Companies need to consult and stay close to their employees and ask them what they want – and include aspects like flexibility as part of a value proposition to attract candidates.

“Many companies that we are working with are looking at some sort of hybrid model, where employees combine time working in the office and time spent working remotely, at home or in co-working spaces. There are huge upsides, such as accessing skills from different parts of the country that they never would have before – offering remote, flexible or hybrid working is attractive to employees.

However, this can be difficult to manage, and companies need to consider what works for the team as a whole as well as what’s right for individuals within those teams.”

“There’s a big need for management support and training, especially for middle and line managers and supervisors who are dealing with a remote workforce,” explains Joyce. “It’s difficult for them, but it’s important that they get it right. Ensuring your managers are confident in what they do, and in their engagement with their teams. We are hearing that companies are looking to bring their employees into the office more, but it’s about getting that blend right between remote working and the office. One aspect that we emphasised in the guide is the need to make sure you are not discriminating against employees who are not in the office environment.”

Identifying and managing issues such as burn-out and isolation is essential if companies are to offer some sort of remote working policy. “Companies that have regular check-ins and meetings with staff and use different methods of communication, such as video calls, emails and direct messaging are more likely to keep employees engaged when working remotely.  It’s also important for employees to have individual focus time, where they are able to detach from colleagues and concentrate on getting their work done without interruption”, says Karen.  “Long term, we don’t know enough about hybrid working for a definite ‘best practice’ but instead companies should pilot different ways of working – for instance, we have some companies who are trialling a ‘team days’ concept – having the whole team in for certain days of the week, then for the rest of the week, they’re working from home.”

Piloting the new workplace

The aim of the guide is to pose those broad questions that will help employers in every sector decide on the right workplace for the future of their business – but there is no need to rush into a decision. “The biggest challenge for employers is making the decision as to how you’re going to handle this working environment,” says Joyce. “Are you going to fully return, are you going for a hybrid, can you facilitate a full return in the workspace that you have? Employers need to make very big decisions, and very strategic, long-term decisions, so we’re suggesting that they talk to their employees about what they want and then piloting whatever they plan to do before they make any strategic decisions that will impact on the business going forward.”

Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how we work – but now is the time to use what we have learned since March 2020 to create a more inclusive, sustainable business model, one that pushes the business forward while creating a culture that values employees and their health and wellbeing more than ever before. This can only be a positive thing.

To download the guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’click here.

As an employer can I insist that an employee returns to the workplace if they do not want to?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

As an employer can I insist that an employee returns to the workplace if they do not want to?

Firstly they will need to complete the Return to Work form where they can state if they have a valid reason not to return, such as a vulnerable relative living with them or a health condition that would make them at risk.

You will then need to discuss this with the employee to understand any potential risks and what action might be taken to minimise these. It would be advised at this point to carry out a full risk assessment and, if necessary, consult with a medical professional, before making any decision.

As an employer, you are obliged to provide a safe working environment that complies with government health and safety regulations and in doing so the current advice is that you can ask an employee to return to the workplace on that basis.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Voltedge and Enterprise Ireland ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’ Guide

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Voltedge and Enterprise Ireland are delighted to share with you our new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’. The guide is intended for all Irish businesses that are preparing for a new chapter in how we work, as we move towards a post-Covid-19 era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How has Covid-19 impacted the world of work? How might the introduction of hybrid or fully remote teams change the way you do business? What new skills will you need to attract, motivate and engage your employees?

The guide considers these and other topics related to how Covid-19 will affect the work environment in the future, as well as covering many of the questions that employers and employees will have.

Sections in the guide include:

  • Leadership at a time of transition
  • The evolving workplace for the future
  • Remote and blended working
  • Employee health and well-being
  • Resource planning in a virtual world

The ‘Emerging Through Covid-19’ guide also includes an FAQ section, a risk assessment template, and a suggested audit and employee surveys to help employers in their approach to this new landscape of work.

Click here to download your copy of the guide today.

Emerging Through Covid-10 – The Future of Work Webinar with Enterprise Ireland

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Voltedge Management is delighted to invite you to join our webinar together with Enterprise Ireland, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’, which takes place on Tuesday, 22 June 2021.

The aim of the webinar is to assist companies as we prepare to embark on a new era of work post-Covid-19.

How has Covid-19 impacted the world of work? How might the introduction of hybrid or fully remote teams change the way you do business? What new skills will you need to attract, motivate and engage your employees?

The webinar will consider these and other topics related to how Covid-19 will affect the work environment in the future. Join us as our panel discusses the questions and the HR-related challenges that will face Irish companies.

Speakers:

  • Fredericka Sheppard, Joint Managing Director, Voltedge Management Ltd.
  • Joyce Rigby Jones, Joint Managing Director, Voltedge Management Ltd.
  • Karen Hernandez, Senior Executive, Client Management Development, Enterprise Ireland

Discussion topics will include:

  • Understanding how Covid-19 has impacted the world of work, from a global and Irish perspective
  • Consider how the changes brought about by Covid-19 impact your company and how you manage your employees
  • Understand what practices you need to implement to continue to attract, engage and develop your employees in a post Covid-19 era

The webinar will be hosted by RTÉ broadcaster and journalist Della Kilroy.

Date and time: 10am on Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Click here to register.