Return to office, vaccine rollout, international visa restrictions
With the imminent announcement on the reopening of suppressed businesses due later this evening, Ibec has also focused this week on what we believe should be the next priority for Government.
In a letter to An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, I have expressed concern once more over the lack of a reasonable framework to support a meaningful and safe return to office activity.
The prolonged nature of large parts of the workforce working remotely is now taking its toll on business performance and employee well-being. Many of you have engaged with colleagues and I in recent weeks on escalating concerns about the broad impact of full remote working in relation to issues such as organisational culture; staff training and development, particularly around induction; collaboration and innovation. The guidance requires for employees to ‘work from home if possible’ even at Level 1 and the advice on the use of public transport at Level 2 are particularly restrictive. The consequences for our commercial districts are also going unaddressed.
Internationally, travel restrictions are impacting on business too, crucially for those with a significant workforce in the US. The prevailing issue is around Irish ex-patriates on visas as they cannot leave the US and be sure of re-entry. Of course, other countries share these challenges. This is an immediate issue and one on which we are building coalitions with European federations as well as lobbying domestic and US stakeholders.
This week’s establishment of the high-level taskforce overseeing the vaccine rollout Chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith is very welcome news and there are a range of workplace issues which need to be considered in the context of the vaccine rollout strategy. I have also requested that the Tánaiste coordinate these aspects through the existing Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF).
We await the Government decision later today and reflect upon them over the coming days along with nearing end game of the Brexit transition phase.