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Number of redundancies reported to the Government quadruples during pandemic

There were 970 potential job losses notified to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment last month

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said there will be no 'cliff edges' as wage supports are wound down. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said there will be no 'cliff edges' as wage supports are wound down. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said there will be no 'cliff edges' as wage supports are wound down. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

The number of redundancies flagged to the Government is now four times higher than before the Covid-19 crisis began.

New figures show there were 970 potential redundancies notified to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment last month.

This compared with 212 in February last year.

A total of 984 redundancies were notified in January, up from 233 in January last year.

In the first 10 days of this month, employers have notified the department of a further 268 possible redundancies.

“The number of redundancies is running at four to five times higher than this time in 2020, and this means that even though the Government is doing an enormous amount of work keeping people in jobs, it’s still a very, very tough environment for firms,” said Tom McDonnell, co-director at the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

“The danger is that if all these schemes are removed over the summer, including business supports, there could be a wave of bankruptcies.”

He said it is important for the Government to come up with radical solutions to protect these businesses. This would include a gradual reduction in income supports over a three- to six-month period.

He said new debt arrangements for firms and a potential amnesty on rates for a period of a year were other possibilities.

“If all of these debts came at the same time and liquidity was very, very weak, it could force some of them against the wall,” he said.

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“Taxes could be postponed or they could be allowed to pay back over a number of years. This would be a good one as the State would get them eventually, but companies’ future tax bills would be higher. There is no perfect solution.”

Under employment legislation, employers proposing collective redundancies must notify the minister. However, these redundancies may not reflect all job losses that take place.

Collective redundancies arise where five employees are being made redundant at firms employing 21 to 49 workers, with higher specified numbers at larger firms. In addition, employers may not go ahead with all the redundancies proposed and could find alternative ways to cut costs.

Although there was a big increase in potential redundancies after the pandemic struck, it is likely to have been far higher without the Government’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) scheme.

The pandemic payment is being claimed by thousands of employees who have been laid off due to the Government-ordered shutdowns. Most of them have not been made redundant but there are fears that job losses will soar as the Government winds down the schemes.

There are almost 465,000 people receiving the payment, and another 186,702 people on the Live Register at the end of February.

The PUP and EWSS have been extended until June. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said there will be no cliff edges as supports are wound down.

Potential redundancies rose to 844 in March last year when the first lockdown was imposed. They fell to 168 in April, but jumped to 793 in May.

A total 1,122 job losses were flagged by employers at the peak in October.


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