Latest CEO Update: Clarity needed ahead of Return to Office
As we start into Autumn, there was plenty of positive news this week for our economy and society. The Government Roadmap for removal of remaining Covid restrictions was welcome in outlining timing certainty, but the implementation of Return to Office (RTO) process still requires some further clarity. As I flagged earlier in the week, Ibec participates on the Work Safely Protocol Stakeholder group. The group met on Wednesday to develop guidance, as requested by Government, on the phased return to office working from September 20th and the relaxing of restrictions on October 22nd.
The Stakeholder Group is very aware that the RTO will bring a number of challenges for employers, including the increased demand on public transport, office capacity issues and the development for many organisations of hybrid working structures. These concerns were raised and strongly discussed by the various stakeholders.
I expect it will be early next week before more detailed guidance on phasing and physical distancing can be made available. It is important to note that the Work Safely Protocol continues to be the guiding document through the transition. Ibec advises members to engage fully with their Lead Worker Representatives and wider employees base on RTO plans in the coming weeks, with particular focus on how each business envisages the unwinding of existing restrictions after 22nd October. Our Employer Relations team will deliver a briefing next Wednesday morning, from 10.30am to 12.00pm, to address progress on the guidance and practical considerations arising for employers. Registration will be available on the Ibec website from Monday.
The challenge of Better Lives, Better Business has centred around the issue of housing scarcity and affordability, so it is welcome to see the Government’s Housing For All strategy announced this week with an ambition of 300,000 housing units to be delivered in nine years. The doubling of funding and ambition is correct, but the challenges from labour and materials supply scarcity will have to be addressed.
The economy continues to grow at stunning levels. The CSO release this week is noteworthy in that the Republic of Ireland has reached the 5 million population level for the first time since 1851 and the economy in GDP terms has grown by over 20% over the last year as the restricted domestic economy, in particular, has started to rebound dramatically. The Exchequer returns for August surprised on the upside too, with particularly strong income tax returns for wage bill growth and very strong corporate tax receipts.
The later third of 2021 will provide as many opportunities as challenges, so a much better outlook than at the start of the year.
Hope you have a good weekend,