Government accused of 'eroding statutory redundancy rights'

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys announced that she has been given government approval to extend the suspension of redundancy provisions relating to temporary lay-off and short-time work which arose as a result of Covid-19.
Government accused of 'eroding statutory redundancy rights'
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys says the changes will provide a pathway for employers to return to work if the opportunity arises. File Picture

The government has been accused of "eroding statutory redundancy rights" after extending the suspension of some redundancy provisions.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys announced that she has been given government approval to extend the suspension of redundancy provisions relating to temporary lay-off and short-time work which arose as a result of Covid-19.

The suspension was introduced on March 13 under emergency legislation as the government felt the existing provisions were not adequate. 

Ms Humphreys said the extension of the end date of a person's employment would ensure that workers had a constant link to their employer and "a pathway to return" to the role.

"For employers, many still regard their businesses as being temporarily closed or they are operating well below their capacity," she said.

"Extending the end date further will help prevent redundancies that could occur in the very near future which would burden employers with further debt and have a serious impact on the potential for a business to recover."

However, Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said the move would prevent people who have been made redundant from seeking new jobs until after the middle of September.

“The suspension of this right has already been extended beyond its original date and was supposed to be reinstated on August 10. 

"Now, we learn from the Minister that the ban on the right to claim redundancy will remain in place until September 17," Mr Gannon said.

“This decision is exceptionally worrying given the recent changes requiring those in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to be ‘genuinely seeking employment’.

“How can workers who were temporarily laid-off be expected to genuinely seek new employment without walking away from their existing jobs and redundancy payments? How can they seek new employment if not technically unemployed?"

He added, "Workers need urgent clarity from the Government on this.”

Ms Humphreys also announced that the €350 enhanced illness benefit which, she said, would mean people suffering Covid-19 symptoms would not feel pressured to go to work, would be extended until March 31 next year.

The six-day waiting period before the illness benefit begins continues not to apply for those who have to self isolate or have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

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