Labour market and employment
What has changed?
  • An increased focus on mental health, looking to the education system to develop awareness and encourage cultural change.
  • A commitment has been made to prioritise quality affordable childcare including the publishing of an independent review of the costs of quality childcare provision in private and community settings.
  • A number of initiatives have been identified to encourage greater female participation. These include an updated National Women’s Strategy published by the end 2016, further promoting women’s participation in decision-making and locally delivering training and development for women returners to the labour market.
  • In addition to the implementation of the “Pathways to Work” five year strategy which will help 50,000 long-term unemployed people into jobs, a dedicated “Pathways to Work” strategy for jobless households will also be published to support those in jobless households into employment and reduce child poverty.
  • Introduction of a new Working Family Payment that promotes work over welfare by supplementing, on a graduated basis, the income of a household, while at the same time incentivising more hours and full-time work.
  • The multiple Departments with responsibility in the area all have new ministers; Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Department of Social Protection; Department of Justice and Equality; Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Positives for business

  • Ibec welcomes the Government’s commitment to implement the mental health strategy “Vision for Change” which will support people to remain active in the workplace and reduce absenteeism. A comprehensive approach to wellbeing will contribute to healthier, well-motivated workplaces with reduced staff turnover and increased productivity.
  • An affordable childcare strategy would allow parents to return to or stay in work rather than facing the unfair trade-off between loss of income and childcare costs. This would increase participation in the labour force, particularly among women.
  • Increasing the participation of women in decision-making is a strategic business, economic and leadership necessity which allows us harness the full talent within the economy and society.
  • It will encourage greater numbers into the labour force and off welfare payments in a supported way, enabling greater uptake of available quality job opportunities, tackling the threat of structural long-term unemployment, lasting poverty and social marginalisation.

Outstanding issues and missed opportunities

  • Although there is a commitment to implement the “Vision for Change” mental health strategy, it is 10 years old. It is essential that the proposed review acts quickly on the provision of 24/7 service support and new and innovative mechanisms to increase the effectiveness of the service are provided.
  • Government spends €2.2 billion on direct family payments, Ibec believes better targeting of this expenditure would provide a more effective national childcare scheme, including the subsidising of before and after-school childcare costs.
  • The proposed gender wage reporting, which was recently introduced in the UK will be an additional regulatory burden on companies. Failure to address the lack of data on gender leadership across the economy, sector and industry is a missed opportunity.
  • While attention is given to the fact that over the next 30 years the number of people over 65 will double and there is mention of increasing the state pension, Ibec recommends the introduction of an entry level universal retirement saving scheme for workers not currently part of an occupational pension scheme.

Contact Kara McGann, labour market and employment policy at

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