Retailers facing staff crisis, making it harder to maintain Covid measures: Vincent Jennings

Retailers facing staff crisis, making it harder to maintain Covid measures: Vincent Jennings

While CSNA is working hard alongside the Government to reinforce the messaging over Covid restrictions and making sure members lead by example, Vincent Jennings says it’s concerning to see the rise in infection rates once again.

And he warns that the difficulties of maintaining Covid measures on the ground are being exacerbated by staff shortages across the sector.

“We have a real crisis on our hands with regards to availability and maintaining staff levels,” he says.

“We’ve seen some instances where people have returned to their homeland and never returned. Meanwhile, some businesses that were closed over the pandemic, when they have reopened they have been looking left, right and centre to fill their posts. So we’ve seen a number of people moving from retail into construction or hospitality. Certainly, we wish more people were available to us.”

CSNA has been urging the Department of Social Welfare to speed up the allocation of PPS numbers to workers coming from non-EU countries in order to allow them to take up jobs.

“There seems to be a backlog with that, whether it’s down to people not working or working from home, but everything has been slowing down as a result,” Vincent says.

“It’s just one of those things, but it’s really important that the PPS process  returns to being the slick movement that we had before. Staff availability is a real problem at the moment.”

Legislation on the way

Vincent also warns that two pieces of incoming legislation are expected to impact staffing costs.

January 1 will see the implementation of increases to the National Minimum Wage, and TDs are currently debating the introduction of a new statutory sick pay scheme.

“That’s something that people will have to be aware of. We will all have an obligation, from three months of a person starting work, that they will be entitled to three days’ certified sick leave,” Vincent says.

While the law is still under debate and could be tweaked in the coming weeks, employers need to be aware of what could be on the way, he warns.

“One of the things that will have to be on the bill in particular is that the sick leave must be certified by a medical practitioner. Self certification just won’t be workable,” he says.

Retailers will also have to be aware that new regulations for tobacco and vaping products could also be on the way, with the Department of Health in the preliminary stages of revising the rules.

“There’s very little chance that vaping products will be as freely available at individual sites and in the range under which they are available,” he says.

There is expected to be a major push from health NGOs and the Department of Health to outlaw flavoured vaping over concerns that it could act as a gateway to tobacco products.

“It’s unlikely that  vaping products will remain the same in the marketplace over the next period of time,” Vincent says.

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