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Parental Leave – How Employers Deal With Working Parents

working parents

There’s been a lot of talk from government quarters of additional supports for parents. With less than three months to go until the government delivers a pre-election budget, there’s a lot of speculation already on what’s likely to feature in the package of tax and spending measures.

 

To put some context on the financial challenge that parents face, consider this: it costs more than €105,000 to raise a child until their 21st birthday, and parents are forking out more than €4,000 per year on childcare, according to a study published by Laya Life earlier this month.

 

The report, which was prepared by an interdepartmental group established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, recommended the introduction of paid parental leave for parents of children under one as an extension to existing maternity benefit provision.

 

“There was a desire for extended paid maternity leave and the introduction of shared parental leave,” the report said, in reference to the consultation that framed its findings. It added that a large number of respondents had proposed that “maternity leave be extended to the recommended minimum standard of 12 months. Likewise, greater provision of paternity leave was desired by many”.

 

As a result, the report recommended that additional paid parental leave, which can be taken by either parent, be introduced to immediately follow the existing period of paid maternity leave.

 

How employers deal with working parents comes down to company policy, but in some sectors, where finding staff is hard, better benefits can be used as a bargaining chip. According to Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, director of Sigmar Recruitment, employers in certain areas are fighting with rivals to attract skilled staff.

 

Mac Giolla Phádraig said that in certain sectors were skilled employees were in high demand – such as specific niches of the tech sector – companies were keen to get it right on benefits to attract staff.

 

“What makes a company competitive? That’s key when it comes to benefits,” he said. “Some of the US tech companies, for example, come to Ireland to scale, with money to spend and the acquisition of talent is key to that strategy.”

 

Given the competitive landscape, companies are looking to “go above and beyond” when devising a benefits package for staff. “The free canteen, the gym membership and so on: to an extent that is all expected now in certain sectors,” he said.“Now you hear of companies offering onsite dentists and healthcare, subsidised hairdressers and so on.”

 

Mac Giolla Phádraig said that some companies are now looking to align their benefits with what employees value, giving rise to an increased focus on work-life balance and family friendly policies.

 

The issue of benefits such as paternity leave is a tricky one, according to Mac Giolla Phádraig. “It’s a matter of company policy,” he said. “Some companies will give two days of paid paternity leave, others will give two weeks. Two weeks would be seen as attractive.”

 

Fathers in Ireland do not – for now – have a statutory entitlement to paternity leave. However, as Mac Giolla Phádraig indicated, some employers will provide for a number of days of paid paternity leave for staff on the birth of their child.

Posted by Sunday Business Post on 7 December 2017

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Resignations Surge in September as Offices Re-open

Resignations Surge in September as Offices Re-open

Main Points Q3 record breaking recruitment placement results Highest in 20 years, peaking in September Up 44% for same period in 2020 Job orders in the first half of October are trending higher than any previous single month in company 20-year history The Talent Shortage Economy: Recruitment (for on-site labour and remote skills) is the single biggest threat to the Irish economy War for talent now being fought on two fronts: Battle for Retention internally and the Skills Struggle externally    “The Great Return is causing a Mass Exodus. The reopening of offices in September has prompted a new surge in resignations as Ireland now faces a Talent Crisis. Employers are increasingly requesting in-office presence and Employees are voting with their feet..” says Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, founding director Sigmar Recruitment:   Sigmar Recruitment today reports a record high number of job placements for Q3 (July, August, September) 2021, up 44% on the same period 2020. The figures released today top previous results recorded in Q2, 2021, with September recording the best single month ever in the 20-year history of Sigmar. Job orders in the first two weeks in October are trending higher than any single full month in the company’s 20-year history.   The first half of the year saw strong, consistent growth with job placements, peaking initially in May. Summer months remained as strong, peaking once more in September. Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, founding director of Sigmar believes that the request to return to the office in September has caused employees to revolt, as they do not wish to return to pre-pandemic conditions and practices..   Commenting on the tightening of the labour market, Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “Demand for talent has remained at an all-time high for the second quarter in our 20-year history. It was somewhat unusual not to see demand abate over the summer months. Indeed, demand continued to increase over the summer, resulting in September’s record results. The rate of job requests  in the first two weeks of October is unprecedented, indicating continued in Q4 and raises the question of the sustainability of talent supply.   “Remote working has literally opened up a world of new opportunity no longer bound by location which is creating significant churn in the professional skills market. This last 18 months has seen employees demand greater flexibility. The request to return to the office by employers in September has prompted employees to reconsider whether they recommit or resign. Many are resigning.”   Mac Giolla Phádraig likens remote work to long-distance relationships, which in many cases don’t work out. “We’ve gone from “living” with our employees in an office environment to long distance relationships, which often sees commitment recede over time. The context of location also opened up new experiences and possibilities on a scale never before seen. In September, many employers have asked employees to “trial” living together once more, which in some cases leads to a reunion or in others to separation.   "Another factor, on the employee side is that of identity and how what we do makes up part of who we are as individuals. “This last 18 months has asked big questions of us all, mainly how our working lives interact with our lives and how we identify with our working lives. In the absence of a workplace we’ve reassessed the balance between who we are and what we do, resulting in lesser commitment to our working selves and therefore to our employers. Employee loyalty has therefore become increasingly under question with many workers are now committed to the experience of work over the employer, adding further to the current levels of churn.”     Talent Shortage Economy Recruitment for both the on-site and remote talent remains the single largest threat to the Irish economy. Says Mac Giolla Phádraig: ”We are seeing two macro trends converge at once, compounding demand for talent across all sectors – (1) supply of labour and (2)shortage of skills.”   The “high touch economy” for on-site labour in sectors such as construction, logistics, retail and hospitality are currently experiencing severe labour shortages. The disruption to international talent supply chains have caused significant bottlenecks to the supply of labour,  particularly effecting on-site, lower skilled jobs. On-going travel restrictions and pace vaccine rollout continue to impede immigration globally, but as an island nation we are now seeing the impact of this as demand recovers at pace.   The “low-touch economy”, on the other hand, where remote work is viable is experiencing greater churn due to the expansion of opportunity for skilled workers, shift in motivation, identity and desire for flexibility. This is now being experienced more acutely in Ireland as offices re-open and employees now vote with their feet, in choosing to resign over reengaging with employers in many cases. Demand has been particularly strong in IT, Financial Services and Life Sciences.    He adds: “If we thought the war for talent was tough, just wait for the battle of attrition. Retaining workers rather than attracting them is now emerging as the number one challenge for businesses across the globe.”