Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.14 12 Jun 2020


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The Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has asked employers to be flexible and reasonable with their staff as they return to work.

She told Pat Kenny: "We want to get every business back up and running in whatever the new normal is, but it has to be cognizant and appreciative of people's circumstances".

"What we all do need to be is a little bit reasonable with each other for the next couple of weeks".

"What everybody needs to be is accommodating and reasonable so that we can all get our economy and our society back to whatever the new normal is".

"I think there is going to be a new way of working - for argument's sake, my own husband is most likely going to be working from home for the foreseeable future.

"But that in itself poses risks and problems to people's wellness and well-being in the workplace."

"If your business is open and you're asked to return to work - and all things being equal: you have childcare and you have your transport organised - then you have to go back to work.

"And it's up to your company to make sure it follows the safety protocols as set out by the HSE to ensure your wellness in the workplace".

"But also equally companies need to be accepting that if the creches are not open for the next couple of weeks - and I have children - well then they have to come first and I'll continue to work from home until I present myself back again."

Minister Doherty said any differences of opinion between employers and employees can be taken to the Workplace Relations Commission or the Labour Court.

"But I would have to suggest to you that, as an employer, if my employee came to me and said 'my children are at home, they're three and seven, and the creche doesn't open until the 29th' - if I demanded that that person came back to work, if they didn't have alternative arrangements for their children, I think that would be disproportionate and could be deemed as being unreasonable.

"But equally so if after the 29th and my creche is open, and I refuse to come back to work, well then that might be deemed as unreasonable on the part of the employees."

She also said there is a "steady flow" of between 25,000 and 35,000 people signing off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and going back to work each week.

"I would expect that to accelerate over the coming weeks as those barriers are removed, as our creches re-open and the new normal starts to return and people start to regain confidence in using public transport, in going shopping - stuff we all took for granted so much so a couple of months ago".

Main image: Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty briefs the media at Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture by: Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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Back To Work Employees Employers Pandemic Unemployment Payment Pat Kenny Regina Doherty Temporary Wage Subsidy Workplaces

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