novembre 27, 2021

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Employers warn of difficulties with unvaccinated workers

Employers are facing difficulties with unvaccinated workers and with other employees who are unhappy with workplaces being redesigned to accommodate social distancing, according to Isme.

Representatives from the lobby group, an organization for small and medium businesses, appeared before the Oireachtas committee on Wednesday to outline the problems employers are facing as they seek to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO Neil McDonnell has asked to start the Companies Act (Bailout for Small and Micro Businesses) as soon as possible as Isme predicts « we’ll see a significant number of SMES become insolvent in the first quarter of 2022. »

While employment support for businesses and employees is helpful, Mr. McDonnell said there have been examples of subsidy abuse.

“We are aware of reported cases of abuse of Pandemic Unemployment Payments (PUP) by a small number of employers providing workers who were taking advantage of the PUP program to obtain services on a cash basis,” he said.

He also explained the difficulties in recruiting staff, as hiring general clients and engineers proved to be particularly difficult. He added that there is concern among people working in the night economy due to the latest set of Covid restrictions.

hesitant to return

Noting that employment issues are common across Europe and the United States, Mr. McDonnell said one of the notable issues was the number of employees reluctant to return to the work environment. Another problem is the inability of companies to properly accommodate health and safety concerns in their premises.

After a poor start, McDonnell said, the credit guarantee program has now issued approvals of €500 million, which is 25 percent of available funds. He said the Future Growth Loan Program, which provides longer-term debt, « has proven much more successful and is oversubscribed. »

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Isme’s CEO also said that waiving commercial rates, hoarding VAT obligations and payment « has provided a significant boost to business liquidity that was hungry for business turnover ».

Also before the committee, Declan Hughes, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said preparatory work on the Companies Act (Bailout for Small and Micro Businesses) is ongoing and should begin soon.

He told the Enterprise, Trade and Employment Commission that there had been « continued and strong interest » in Covid-related schemes for businesses.

Mr Hughes said €633 million was managed through restart grants to nearly 109,000 applicants last year, with €200 million in grants and loans provided under Enterprise Ireland/IDA Strategic Enterprise Fund to help support 1,600 companies.