My mother banned us from the TV as children.
Her reasoning: “TV programmes depicted an unrealistic view of life”; but really it was because there are always jobs to be done on a farm. In most cases, family labour is not just a help but a necessity.
However, this escapism that my mother bemoaned has been an important distraction during COVID-19.
The Sex and the City spin off And Just Like That... was on the TV when I got home late one night last week.
Although most people rejoiced, there is a degree of collective nervousness about the reopening
The title seemed somewhat serendipitous considering An Taoiseach’s announcement that “just like that” the restrictions were ending. Although most people rejoiced, there is a degree of collective nervousness about the reopening following two years of living in a certain way. New habits have formed.
Working from home (WFH) and the mooted legislation to support its continuation is a topic that could generate division in society. Before COVID-19 approximately 14% of those working in Ireland worked from home in some formal capacity. This was slightly above the European average but figures across the continent vary widely. Research at that time from the ESRI shows that education (37%), ICT (36%) and the finance (26%) were the sectors with the highest percentage of employees working from home. Unsurprisingly, just 2% of employees in accommodation and food worked remotely.
As we reopen the country, staff are at a premium and, as noted several times in this paper, it is an employee’s market
They surmised that the prevalence of WFH is far higher in highly paid occupations. The labour force survey shows that although this was increasing, the pandemic drove figures to record highs. As we reopen the country, staff are at a premium and, as noted several times in this paper, it is an employee’s market and this will cause disruption for small business until a more normal business equilibrium is reached.
The new bank holiday was also officially announced last week and this will add another small burden to our SMEs. It will be a once-off public holiday, a day of remembrance and recognition for those that have died from COVID-19. An appropriate recognition.
Singer Imelda May was a major advocate for the day to coincide with St Brigid’s Day. The reasoning behind that date was that with our male patron saint having his own day, our female patron saint surely deserves the same recognition
From next year, a recurring day off will be celebrated the week of St Brigid’s Day bringing our number of public holidays to 10 and within two days of the EU average of 12.
Singer Imelda May was a major advocate for the day to coincide with St Brigid’s Day. The reasoning behind that date was that with our male patron saint having his own day, our female patron saint surely deserves the same recognition.
This news was met with excitement by most employees and an element of dread by most small business owners who must foot the staff bill. The law around this is that employees are entitled to a paid day off which is in addition to any other paid leave. Where employees have to, or choose to, work a public holiday, they are entitled to double pay or an additional day of paid leave. Farmers as employers are also obliged to abide by this.
While the ideal calving date, according to my colleague Aidan Brennan (dairy editor), is the feast of St Valentine, many farmers will be calving two weeks earlier than that just in time for the new St Brigid’s Day bank holiday.
Days off during the busy season are problematic for even the most well-staffed farm businesses. Little wonder my mother banned us from the TV when, 30 years later, labour on Irish farms is still 90% family.