Research conducted by CIPD Ireland shows two thirds (65%) of businesses report workers raising childcare as a concern about a return from working remotely. It is just one of the findings from the survey involving nearly 350 organisations who are members of the professional HR and L&D organisation.

The study also finds: 

  • Around half (51%) of respondents said between 75% and 100% of staff had worked remotely over the past two months
  • 70% of employers will facilitate more remote working now, than before the pandemic took hold
  • 42% said rates of sick leave, unrelated to COVID-19 cases, have dropped during the pandemic

When organisations were asked what issues were being raised by their staff:

  • 65% say workers have concerns around childcare when it comes to a possible return to the workplace
  • 45% say their employees have raised physical and mental health and wellbeing concerns
  • 36% of respondents report concerns being raised by workers about transport to and from the workplace

When it comes to the issues raised by employers with staff:

  • 47% have raised the issue of working remotely
  • 40% have asked about physical and mental health and wellbeing concerns
  • 21% have asked employees about transport 

Releasing the details of the survey today, Director of CIPD Ireland Mary Connaughton said: 'During the coronavirus crisis, many parents had to take time off for childcare, taking both paid and unpaid leave, and we are conscious that it remains a worry as more employees return to the workplace.  While the opening of creches will help, we advise employers to consult with employees on their individual circumstances and to be flexible in finding options that will meet the needs of both parents and the employer.  This is very much part of a fair and inclusive culture, and will help to retain parents, and particularly mothers, in the workforce'.

Mary also highlighted the disparity between the amount of concern among workers about methods of transport to and from work, and the number of employers consulting them about this: 'A safe commute is another new concept arising from this pandemic for employers, especially given enforced mask-wearing on public transport. CIPD Ireland advises businesses to take a considerate approach to this practice as it beds in,  prioritise worker safety and keep discussing and monitoring what is and isn’t working for all sides'.

NB: 341 CIPD Ireland members took part in the survey online between 28 May and 10 June 2020.

Printed in the Irish Times 1 July 2020

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