Public Policy Bulletin, 9 April 2021

Apr 08, 2021

 

In this week's Public Policy news, read about new training that is available for businesses responding to climate change; a report on the submissions received to the public consultation on Statutory Sick Pay; a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to request remote work and an increase to the UK’s National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage. 

‘Climate Ready’ Programme for Irish Businesses launches

A five-year national initiative was launched this week that aims to equip businesses with skills to respond to climate change. The initiative, Climate Ready, is a partnership between Skillnet Ireland, Chambers Ireland, Wind Energy Ireland, and Sustainable Finance Ireland. It includes training on reducing energy waste, saving costs and protecting the environment, as well as reducing water consumption and helping staff understanding their impact on climate action.

Speaking at the launch Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, TD, described the actions that will be taken by business as “critical” to achieving Ireland’s ambitious targets. These targets are to halve greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade and achieve net-zero by 2050, as set out in the recently approved Climate Action Bill.

Climate Ready also supports the aims of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2023, in respect of climate action, ensuring the provision of a workforce skilled in sustainable techniques and technologies.

Public Consultation on putting the right to request remote working into law

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has announced a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to request remote work. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, has encouraged employers and employees to engage with this consultation.

Commenting, the Tánaiste stated that putting the right to request remote working into law would provide “a clear framework around which requesting, approving or refusing remote work can be based”. He further stated that the Government would take a balanced approach with the new legislation in recognition that remote working may not work for everyone or for every organisation.

The announcement comes after the coming into effect last week of the Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect Right to Disconnect, which gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours.

The closing date for submissions to the consultation is Friday, 7 May 2021.

Statutory Sick Pay public consultation - report on the submissions received

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment have released a report on the submissions it received from the public consultation for Statutory Sick Pay which broadly showed support for the introduction of such a scheme in the private sector.

A total of 118 submissions were made, including a response from Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Some of the headline responses include:

  • 50% of respondents were in favour of the rate of payment to be a fixed percentage of the employee’s weekly earnings, with 59% of that cohort recommending full pay
  • 43% said there should be no minimum period that the employee must be out sick before statutory sick pay applies
  • 54% said statutory sick pay should only apply to illnesses that have been certified by a medical professional or medical body
  • 67% were in favour of financial supports for employers who genuinely cannot afford to pay statutory sick pay

More detailed responses can be found on gov.ie.  You can also read the Institute’s submission.

Survey by the OECD-NDA on employment of persons with disabilities in Ireland

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has partnered with the  National Disability Authority (NDA) to conduct a review of employment of persons with disabilities in Ireland.

As part of the project, the OECD has prepared an online survey for companies on how they can better create job opportunities for persons with disability. Closing date for survey responses is  Wednesday, 21 April 2021 and the survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Northern Ireland report shows decrease of economic output

Economic output in Northern Ireland decreased by 1.4 percent over the quarter to December 2020, according to a report on the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI), the quarterly measure of Northern Ireland’s (NI) economic performance based on available official statistics.

The report, published this week by NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), suggests that the decrease in economic growth was largely driven by the decline in the Services, Production and Construction sectors.

The level of economic activity in Northern Ireland is currently 9.5 percent below the maximum value recorded during the economic downturn in Quarter 2 of 2007, while UK GDP is estimated to be 5.1 percent above its pre-economic downturn peak.   

UK National Living Wage increases

An increase to the UK’s National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage has come into effect, with increases per age group as follows:

  • National Living Wage (23+) up 2.2 percent from £8.72 to £8.91
  • National Minimum Wage (21-22) up 2 percent, from £8.20 to £8.36
  • National Minimum Wage (18-20) up 1.7 percent from £6.45 to £6.56
  • National Minimum Wage (under 18) up 1.5 percent from £4.55 to £4.62.

The age threshold for eligibility for the National Living Wage has also been lowered from 25 to 23 years for the first time increasing the number of young people eligible for the National Living Wage since it came into effect in 2016. For those from school-leaving age to 22, the National Minimum Wage will apply.

The Apprentice Rate has also increased 3.6 percent from £4.15 to £4.30.

 

You can find information, guidance and supports to help members understand sustainability and meet the challenges it presents in our Sustainability Centre.

 

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