The employers' body Ibec has urged the Government to stagger the introduction of its extensive programme of employment rights legislation to take account of the financial shock businesses are experiencing during the pandemic.
Addressing Ibec's online employment law conference, Director of Employer Relations Maeve McElwee said the scale of employment rights legislation proposed for 2021 was probably the most significant in any single year, and would have a fundamental impact on our future working lives.
She cited wide-ranging proposed government initiatives on issues including the right to request remote working, the right to disconnect, statutory sick pay, the living wage, gender pay gap reporting, additional family leave and domestic violence leave.
Ms McElwee said it was essential that proposed labour market regulation be "future focused and coherently developed", and that it be introduced in a staggered manner "sensitive to the financial shock may businesses are experiencing."
"In the current economic environment, where many of us are without a clear roadmap back into our offices the idea that all this legislation would come in the course of this year is an unreasonable and unprecedented burden on business as we move forward," she said.
Ms McElwee said significant legislative measures, including statutory sick pay, should not be developed in isolation from the overall context of the social protection system, but should be encompassed by the Commission on Taxation and Social Welfare.
She called for "joined up" legislation to avoid "blunt instruments", with a focus on social dialogue.
"If we are to truly deliver labour market regulation that promotes fair, decent and competitive workplaces, a strong focus on social dialogue will be necessary to achieve balance for both employers and employees," she told the conference.