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PEOPLE FOCUS Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Ireland Winter 2011 Volume 9: No 1

Richard Bruton Plans Streamlining the Irish Employment Page 6 Rights Bodies

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PEOPLE FOCUS Welcome to the new on-line version of People Focus. Going on-line not only helps us protect the environment by reducing our carbon foot print; it will also enable us to publish more frequently. We plan to produce an edition every two months as well as special issues to cover emerging topics of interest to members. In this issue we consider the implications “non competitor clauses” in employment contracts and also have a feature on the proposals to streamline Ireland’s employment rights bodies. CIPD Ireland

has made a submission to Minister Bruton on the proposals which can be viewed/downloaded from our website We review the decision to set-up SOLAS and consider how JobBridge is fairing – along with details of the new CIPD member-led initiative Worklink. The new pensions levy is commented on, and we would welcome your views on this controversial and unhelpful tax.

Winter 2011 Contents New CIPD chair says focus will be on professional development

pg 4

Streamlining the Irish Employment Rights Bodies

pg 6

JobBridge suffers slow start but improving...

pg 8

Solas – Here we go again?

pg 10

People managers can boost job opportunities

pg 13

The New Pension Levy – Considerations within the HR Profession

pg 14

Working for a Competitor

pg 15

Human Resource Management in the Irish Recession

pg 16



Between Ourselves: Employee engagement in challenging economic times pg 20 CIPD Regions & People on the Move

pg 21

The major research project “Human Resourcees in the Recession” in which CIPD Ireland partnered with the LRC is summarised. Arising from the research a book authored by Professor Bill Roche, Anne Coughlan and Majella Fahy of the School of Business, UCD, together with Professor Paul Teague, Queens University Belfast has just been published (see details page 16). It is an invaluable guide on HR practices in the recession and highly recommended. We carry a report on Employee Engagement at Accenture based on their recent presentation to CIPD members.

Speaking of presentations, CIPD Ireland has launched its annual programme of events with over 50 events nationwide – details are on the Events section of the website. Photographs taken at the events can be viewed on Flickr by following the link on We are also just about to launch our prestigious new Awards initiative, the CIPD HR Leadership & Innovation Awards 2012. Information and application details are on the website. We do hope that you enjoy People Focus on-line and your feedback would be most welcome. Michael McDonnell Managing Director, CIPD Ireland

PS. We are holding a special Autumn Conference on Monday 21 November – full details to be announced shortly. In the meantime do please put the date in your diary!

People Focus is issued by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Ireland. Mention of the CIPD in the text refers to the Institute in Ireland unless otherwise stated. Material printed in People Focus is not necessarily endorsed by CIPD Ireland.

Editorial enquiries to: Michael McDonnell, CIPD Ireland, Marine House, Clanwilliam Place, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 653 0400 Fax: (01) 653 0500 e-mail: Design-Layout-Advertising: IRN Publishing 121-123 Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Tel: (01) 497 2711.



New CIPD chair says focus will be on professional development By Gerald Flynn The Irish branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD-Ireland) plans to increase its focus on continuous professional development for its 5,500 members, according to its new chairperson. Doreen Gerety, organisational development and talent management director with Elan Corporation, was elected chair of the people management organisation earlier this month. She takes over the two-year chairmanship from Frank Kelly, the former Dublin City Council personnel manager who retired last year. Ms Gerety said that she would like to see more focus on CIPD membership and qualifications in recruiting human resource practitioners. “If we had more managers and senior HR people buying into the idea of CIPD membership being a prerequisite for more senior appointments and their staff we could, overall, improve the whole situation”. Ms Gerety would like to see more recruiters specifying CIPD qualifications or chartered membership as part of the job specifications for more senior appointments. “One thing I am anxious to do this year is to provide a better understanding of the new development programme called the ‘HR Professional Map’ which will enable organisations to drive sustained organisational performance”, Ms Gerety added.

The new chair detailed that CIPD-Ireland is competing with a number of other organisations both in the area of management development and also in organising professional conferences. “This means we have to ensure that we have good offerings around HR development and professional development and that we are highly relevant to the HR population and our membership”.

Alkermes plc, which will be incorporated in Ireland.

CIPD-Ireland membership peaked at 6,200 in 2008 and fell back to 4,800 as the recession and job losses began to bite a year later. Last year membership recovered to 5,500 and the Irish committee is concentrating on providing training and internship opportunities for recent graduates from HRM courses eager to get initial work experience in Ireland.

On the development of HR in Ireland, she notes that it is undergoing a lot of change. “You have to look at the business and its needs and what is core to HR”. She says there is a need to focus on aspects of “work experience for students and graduates to help them break into the scene and get experience under their belt”.



Within Elan, the HR team works closely in aligning the organisation’s strengths with the senior leadership’s strategies to add value and ensure widespread engagement. She says they are currently working through a proposed merger with a biopharmaceutical company named Alkermes “which is going to be challenging over the coming months but it is going to be very good for us”.

This new approach to setting professional standards, based on individual’s management experiences, replaces the individual professional assessment process which many undertook in recent years. “We need to provide clarity for our members on how they can progress and that they can see a clear career development path”, Ms Gerety noted.

This refers to last month’s announcement that the US-based Alkermes Inc is to merge with Elan's drug formulation and manufacturing unit called Elan Drug Technologies, in a deal worth an estimated $960 million (€657m). The cash and share transaction will see Elan Drug Technologies and Alkermes merge under a new holding company,


CHANGING HR Doreen Gerety joined Elan Corporation in Athlone about ten years ago having previously worked with Intel. She initially qualified as an analytic chemist at Athlone Institute of Technology and then worked with NEC Semiconductors before moving to Intel.

In Elan they continue to have a policy of talking on interns where they can and, in her experience this has “proved a good investment and an excellent viewing opportunity to see potential recruits while the interns mastered the transition and first steps into employment and how to operate within a specific organisation’s culture.” Traditionally the CIPD-Ireland chair role was dominated by men and she says that the gender balance is important in most teams even if not always possible. “I don’t like the idea of HR being seen as a female dominated role as there have been some very successful men as HR directors in Ireland.” ■ Gerald Flynn is a communications specialist with Align Management Solutions

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Streamlining the Irish Employment Rights Bodies It was first proposed almost ten years and two administrations ago, but finally the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, has brought forward concrete plans to streamline the five employment rights bodies into one. The plan is to merge the five employment rights bodies - the Employment Appeals Tribunal, Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioners, the Equality Tribunal and NERA - to provide a single and simplified entry point for claims. In a consultation paper inviting submissions from all interested parties, Minister Bruton proposes that the streamlined bodies will embody a two tier process - a single first instance entity and a single appeals entity which, according to the Minister’s proposals, would “maximise the potential for synergies, economies of scale and reduction of overlap and duplication. Critically, however the conciliation and dispute resolution services of the LRC and the Labour Court in dealing with collective disputes will remain untouched by the change. The emphasis is on rationalising the multiple points of entry for individual employment rights claims. Though the move will require legislation, according to Minister Bruton, a number of changes are already underway. These include the appointment of Kieran Mulvey, chief executive of the LRC, who will takeover the running of NERA from September in addition to his work with the Commission. Ger Deering, director of NERA at the same time will become the Project Liaison for the streamlining process. The Minister has also established an Implementation Group to lead the change process. As part of a pilot project, the Minister will also appoint five county registrars as vice chairs of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. This “will reduce the travel expenses and per diem costs


associated with deploying personnel to assist with cases in regional locations” said the Minister.

discharged by the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal” said Minister Bruton.

A new single on-line application form for the Employment Appeals Tribunal has been provide on the EAT’s website which, the Minister said, will reduce the forms needed form five to one.

The plan according to the Minister will simplify and save time for workers and employers as well as providing savings for the taxpayer. The proposal is part of the government’s review of expenditure for the next budget and beyond and also part of its public service reform initiative.

The Minister also plans to have a single website covering workers’ rights in place before the end of the year. “The challenge in streamlining the existing mechanisms will be to establish a simpler structure while building upon the recognised strengths of the first instance functions currently performed by the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioners, NERA, the Equality Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Similarly the centralisation of all functions of an appellate or interpretative character in a single upper tier body will represent a significant improvement by bringing together within the same body the different functions currently

Exchequer savings are probably exaggerated as the five bodies cost just over €21m to run - a snip really when you consider the service they provide. If the Minister were to save €1m through the move he would be doing well. But the real aim of the change is to make the process simpler for workers with genuine grievances while ridding the system of vexatious or frivolous claims which clog up the system for genuine users and see employers waste time and money defending such claims.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

Labour Relations Commissioners

Equality Tribunal

Rights Commissioners




“Our employment rights bodies which have grown up in a haphazard manner over the years are not fit for purpose. Workers seeking to enforce their rights are facing waiting times of up to 80 weeks, more than 35 different forms, six different websites, and generally bewildering complexity. Abuses go undetected; yet compliant employers too often find themselves embroiled in costly and time-consuming hearings. And the whole thing costs too much for the taxpayer, “said Minister Bruton. “An effective system would see more grievances resolved in the workplace. Most workers and trade unions do not want to rely on employment law to vindicate their rights, and high standards in the workplace can be a source of competitive advantage for businesses” continued the Minister. The overall aim is to encourage the resolution of individual grievances as close to the workplace as possible and as quickly as possible and so prevent what the Minister called “forum shopping”. A survey of the Equality Tribunal rulings concerning employment equality claims published since the start of the year shows that of 129 claims decided, just 24 or less than one in five were upheld. Also of the last fifty cases published, in fourteen of these cases or almost 30%, the claimant failed to make an appearance. While many of the no shows could be put down to the length of time it takes to get a claim aired at the Equality Tribunal - years in some cases - the employer and their legal representatives took the time and money to appear. Also, the Tribunal itself had to go through the time and cost of setting up the hearing which, in common with all the other employment rights bodies, provide their service for free. Obviously the Tribunal’s patience with this large number of ’no shows’ has been stretched to breaking point. In a ruling published last June, Equality Officer, Tara Coogan, ordered a complainant named Gorniakov, who had failed to show up in case of discrimination, to pay his employers, Economic Property Management €480

for the costs they incurred in preparing a defence of the claim.

INTERESTING QUESTIONS The consultation paper published by the Minister in August, however, posed a number of interesting questions which suggests some of the additional changes the Minister plans to make. In terms of the Minister’s plan to have a two tier process - claims of first instance and second instance on appeal - the consultation paper asked whether employment rights cases “should only go to the body of second instance on appeal (i.e. should the right of either side to object to the body of first instance hearing a case be removed?)” . Another interesting question put to the stakeholders was whether arrangements for the appointment of tenure of those working in/appointed to the new streamlined employment rights bodies are changed, and if so, what should be the guiding principles? The paper also asked whether there should be a consistent time limit for initiating all complaints and if so what should that be?

Should hearings of employment rights disputes/appeals be heard in public or in private? Should there be a uniform period for submitting appeals?” All the answers to the above, inevitably depending on which side of the table you are sitting. Reaction from employers and unions to the consultation paper has been relatively positive with both acknowledging that something has to be done about the employment rights bodies. But both also recognise the complexity that lies ahead which suggests that this reform process may involve quite detailed legislation and thus a lot more time than originally envisaged “The development of a more efficient and user-friendly system is an essential part of institutional reform. The plan set out by the Minister is welcome, but will require careful design in its detail. Preserving the effectiveness of the system, while at the same time making necessary reforms is crucial” said IBEC.

It was also asked that where the power to make a claim is limited to claimant, should that be extended to the claimant’s trade union and or the claimant’s guardian.

Siptu was a bit more circumspect suggesting that agreement on reform of the employment rights bodies should be in return for some concessions on collective bargaining - a move that is certain to be rigidly opposed by the employers.

In terms of plans to establish an early intervention/advice/mediation process which would help resolve disputes before they go to a formal hearing the paper asks whether such attempts at resolution should have any bearing on any subsequent hearing or should the process be confidential and not admissible in any hearing.

“There is no question that reform of employment rights and industrial relations structures and procedures is necessary and we will be seeking to ensure that this is done in a manner that best protects workers and provides a grievance and dispute resolution process that is fit for purpose“, said Siptu's divisional organiser, John King.

In terms of the conduct of the proceedings the paper puts forward a number of questions as follows;

“However, it is hard to see how such a major overhaul of the existing structures can be achieved without also addressing the question of collective bargaining. In this context, the commitment in the programme for Government to introduce legislation that guarantees the right of workers to collective bargaining must be honoured”, added King ■

“Should there be a uniform set of procedures regulating the conduct of all hearings in all cases heard at first instance? Should first instance jurisdictions be empowered to dismiss what are adjudged to be frivolous, vexatious or misconceived claims without holding a formal hearing?

CIPD Ireland has made a detailed submission to the Minister, it can be viewed/downloaded at




JobBridge suffers slow start but improving... The government’s new internship scheme, JobBridge, suffered from a slow start launched, as it was by Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, at the end of June just as the holiday season started to kick in. But placements on the €20 million scheme started to pick up as summer drew to a close and the wheels of industry started to turn ever so slowly again. In early August, less than four weeks after Minister Burton launched the scheme, a total of 1,285 internships had been advertised on the website, 473 interns had been selected by the various organisations and 292 interns had actually started as Minister Burton put it “to bridge the gap between unemployment and the world of work”. By the third week in August, the number of internships being advertised on the website had more than doubled to 2,587, the number of interns selected by organisations had also doubled to 978 as had the number of interns who actually started which rose to 691. According to the latest set of figures from the Department of Social Protection at the start of September, the number of internships or 'opportunities' as they are called, hosted on website had risen to 2,708, the number of interns selected to 1,156 and the number of interns who have actually started has risen to 825. This is still well short of the government’s target of 5,000 internships and even further away if one factors in the fact that close to 500 have transferred into the JobBridge scheme from the very similar Work Placement programme. To a certain extent this crossover between the two schemes, both of which are run by Fas, has been facilitated by the rules of the JobBridge scheme which allows an organisation to accept an intern as well as an allocation of Work Placement Programme participants at the same time. The only limit is that the combined number of interns and WPP participants cannot exceed the total number of


existing employees. The two year JobBridge scheme provides for 5,000 internships of six or nine months duration. Interns must be at least three months on the live register and they will receive an additional €50 per week from the Department on top of their social welfare entitlements.

"CHEAP LABOUR" But even before it started the scheme has come in for some criticism, the most repeated being that it was nothing more than a cheap form of labour for employers. Worse, it was suggested that for some unscrupulous employers it could be a means to displace a genuine job with a ‘free’ worker whose wages would be paid by the state. Minister Burton had already stated that participants in JobBridge “will benefit from learning new skills to complement their existing skills”. “Participation in the scheme will assist in breaking the cycle of unemployed people being unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market or after education or training or as unemployed workers whose existing skills will not be appropriate to the types of jobs that will emerge in postrecession Ireland. On completing their internships, participants will have improved their prospects of securing employment”, said the Minister. But three weeks into the scheme, independent TD, Mick Wallace, had some concerns that some internships he saw advertised on the site had to be employers availing of free labour. “I saw an advertisement on the internet for a forklift driver who must have a forklift licence. Such a person would replace someone who should have a job. Given that the State is paying all the money, the employer is

getting somebody to drive his forklift for nothing. Another advertisement was for someone to help a gardener weed. That helper will replace a labourer and will not learn much from weeding flowers” stated the Wexford TD. Minister Burton admitted that “in some situations, people might try to migrate an ordinary job, one that is not an internship experience as most people would understand it, on to the website.”

ADVERTS REMOVED “I do not have the exact figures, but approximately 30 or 40 such advertisements have been taken down from the website”, said the Minister. The Department confirmed to People Focus that having reviewed a number of postings on the JobBridge website in the first days of the scheme, “a number were clearly not in accordance with the intent of the scheme and were removed”. The published guidelines for employers or host organisations also state that internships cannot be advertised in areas of activity in the company where there are job vacancies. It also states that an internship cannot displace an existing job. An examination of the most recent internships advertised did not reveal any opportunities such as forklift drivers as alluded to by Mick Wallace. But of the over 800 internships commenced to date, over 600 or three quarters of all opportunities are in the ‘other services’ category including cleaning, hairdressing and security. But some of the internships do seem to be offering genuine experience opportunities with, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency looking for a scientific officer/inspector and IBM seeking a software developer. Also, pharmaceutical distributor, Uniphar and



insurance company, Societé Generalé are both looking for a HR administrator.

UK EXPERIENCE A recent survey in the UK, which has been running a very similar graduate internship programme for the last few years, showed that 17% of employers openly admitted that they used the scheme to recruit cheap labour. The CIPD in the UK estimated that there were a quarter of a million interns working in UK companies, the vast majority of which were unpaid.

PROTECTION MEASURES The Department and Minister Bruton outlined however, the measures it has adopted to “protect the intern and safeguard JobBridge from potential abuse.” The Department outlines these measures; “In order for an application from the host organisation to be put up on the JobBridge site it must meet a number of criteria so as to ensure that the potential internship is of quality. In order for an internship to commence a Standard Internship Agreement must be signed by both the intern and the host organisation. This agreement clearly states the terms of the internship including the maximum number of hours an intern is expected to work in a week, their entitlement to rest breaks, annual and sick leave”. In order to protect the integrity of the scheme these control mechanisms are vital. To ensure compliance the Department of Social Protection and the Employment Services Division of FÁS will be monitoring internships to ensure they are of sufficient quality and that both host organisations and interns are abiding by the spirit and the rules of the scheme. This will involve the Employment Services Division of FÁS undertaking a desk monitoring approach. Each host organisation will be required to submit monthly compliance reports verifying that the internship is proceeding as set out in the Standard internship Agreement. Employment services will undertake random site visits of internships as part of the process. In addition, a whistle blowing feature has been introduced, where any

individual who suspects that an internship may be in breach of the scheme’s criteria may contact the National Call Centre. All such claims will be investigated.

intern which means a small employer can double their workforce through the scheme. Sole traders can now also host an intern.

In addition, the intern and their dedicated mentor should liaise regularly to discuss any potential issues which may emerge during an internship. If there are issues, which cannot be resolved then either the host organisation or the intern may terminate the internship by providing one week’s notice to the other party”.

Companies with 11 to 20 employees can take on 2 internships, those with 21 to 30 can take 3 while those with 30 employees and over can take on interns up to 20% of their workforce or a maximum of 200, whichever is the smaller.

On top of such measures to protect against abuse, Minister Bruton’s move to secure the services of Martin Murphy, managing director of HP in Ireland, as chairman of JobBridge also gives the scheme a high degree of authenticity. Also, the list of companies and organisations which have endorsed the scheme through their participation include some of the largest public and private sector companies in the country including ESB, Glen Dimplex, HP, Arthur Cox, PWC, KPMG, Glanbia, Aer Lingus, Tesco, BT as well as representative bodies IBEC, ISME and Chambers Ireland. But as much as concerns of the potential for abuse, there have also been complaints that potential interns are taking up offers for fear that they will lose social welfare payments if they don’t’. Mike McDonnell, director of the CIPD in Ireland, which is currently working on a guide for internships in Ireland, said that a well developed scheme can be of enormous benefit to the host organisation and the intern. But McDonnell warned that an intern who is simply following instructions for fear of losing their social welfare payments “is of no use to either party.”

REDUCE THE LIVE REGISTER A Department spokesman confirmed that individuals taking up an internship do come off the live register. While this is correct in the sense that such a person is not available or looking for work while on an internship, it does raise fears that the scheme is also designed to cut numbers on the live register. Another point that gives rise to some suspicions is that companies with just one employee (working at least 30 hours a week) can take on a maximum of one

Where an organisation combines interns and Work Placement Programme participants the following limits apply: 1 10 employees; 1 intern + 1 WPP; 11-20 employees; 2 interns + 2 WPPs; 21- 30 employees; 3 interns + 3 WPPs; and 30+ employees; 20% of workforce to maximum of 200 + 10% of workforce or maximum of 25 WPPs. This is a relatively generous allowance which allows, for example, a small business with 40 employees to take on 12 extra staff without cost. The CIPD’s Michael McDonnell has also suggested that employers should be allowed to pay interns an exit fee or some type of top-up payment. As it stands, the extra €50 a week on top of the intern’s social welfare payments would yield an average weekly payment of €238 per week. But the Department spokesman confirmed that no payment of participants is permitted under the scheme. “However, host organisations may reimburse an intern for expenses incurred as part of the internship” added the spokesman. It is just a few months into the 2 year scheme so rushing to judgement would be unfair. But the CIPD has questioned why the scheme is limited to two years and suggested that if successful the scheme should become a permanent feature which would offer young people in particular, valuable job experience before entering the workforce proper. The Department spokesman said that while it was pleased with the response to the scheme so far “at present there are no plans to extend the scheme, but the Department will monitor the scheme and will make amendments to the terms of the scheme if it is considered necessary to do so” ■




Solas – Here we go again? Formed from the merger of AnCO and Manpower back in the recession hit 1980s so as to rationalise the state’s fractured employment and training functions, now over two decades later and in an even deeper recession, FÁS has been split up again. It was impossible to find a critical voice to the move by Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn to disband FÁS and create a new further education and training agency - Solas. The new agency even has its own acronym - Seirbhisi Oideachais Leanunaigh Agus Scileana as had its predecessor - Foras Aiseann Saothair or FÁS.

the agency - the provision of up to 70 days off in the last two years of work in order to acclimatise them to retirement - is a case of point. Though generous in today’s harsh climate, this step down facility has been available in a number of organisations, both public and private. Yet for FÁS, it was a cardinal sin.

Even FÁS itself welcomed its replacement. “We look forward to embracing the challenge of ensuring high quality opportunities for learners to help them secure and retain employment. This is a time of significant change for the organisation. My colleagues and I will work closely with the Implementation group to ensure a smooth and successful transition to the new authority”, said FÁS director general Paul O’Toole.

Certainly, corporate and PR spending by FÁS on a number of vanity projects during the boom years was not the most prudent use of exchequer funding. Mistakes were made, including an overly ambitious and unnecessary recruitment website which duplicated a website already up and running within the organisation. But very few organisations did not engage in imprudent spending during the boom, something which the

Of course, it is also clear that the disbandment of FÁS is a direct result of the cascade of scandals that has engulfed the jobs and training agency over the last three years. Once its former director general, Rody Molloy went on radio to defend his right to travel first class to Florida to monitor the agency’s course for budding astronauts at NASA, the game was up. The blood was up and the agency came under intense scrutiny as every even minor indiscretion was blazoned across the papers. FÁS staff complained that they spent most of their time answering endless media enquiries rather than working on the growing list of the unemployed. The latest ‘scandal’ to hit


country is paying for dearly at the moment. In a way FÁS was damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. In the last decade it was criticised for having an annual budget of €1 billion when unemployment was effectively zero. Questions were asked why FÁS was throwing so much money at a problem that didn’t exist. But as unemployment rises there is little an agency such as FÁS can do except, under Government direction, throw state cash at the problem. But this won’t solve the unemployment problem and FÁS cannot and was never supposed to solve an unemployment problem of the scale we have today. But the agency is still blamed. Certainly, much of the unnecessary spending in FÁS in the last decade arose form different departments frantically trying to spend budgets for fear they wouldn’t get the same again next year. But again this approach to budgets and spending was done in virtually every government department and across every expenditure vote in the last decade. Also, the majority of the agency’s €1 billion budget or around €700m was used to pay the unemployed on community employment schemes. FÁS was simply a conduit for these payments so it would be more accurate to say that the FÁS budget was around €300m. To a large extent FÁS was also used by the government of the day to mask unemployment problems and



the Department and Social Protection and NEES and training to the Department of Education.

new skills needed for the new jobs in Ireland’s 21st century labour market, as outlined in the National Skills Strategy”.

The new Jobbridge or internship programme is a case in point. The scheme was handed over to FÁS (or Solas) at a time when the agency is in turmoil and is actually being disbanded.

While it is clear what NEES is doing, the function of Solas is less clear or at least how different its role will be to that of FÁS. It has also yet to be determined whether the former-FÁS instructors, who will now work within the VECs, will be on the Solas payroll or the VECs.

Sounds all very well if not that much of a change from FÁS. But the big question is where are these ‘new jobs in Ireland’s 21st century labour market’?

Then today, with close on half a million people on the live register and an ever more pressing need for a jobs and training agency, the government disbands FÁS and reduces its budget.

Also, the VECs operate on a term or semester basis much like secondary schools. But FÁS instructors work year round and there are questions over how the one can be folded into the other.

even massage the live register figures. Quick fix political solutions to deep rooted unemployment problems were handed over to FÁS to make do. If the latest scheme went belly up, then FÁS would be blamed.

Throwing vast amounts of money at an unemployment problem that didn’t really exist and then taking it away when it does, does not appear logical. But the yards of column inches devoted to FÁS over the last three years and the public outcry left the government with little option but to act. But it remains unclear whether the action is little more than tinkering around the edges and is just change for change sake. The basic dismantling of FÁS involves around 700 staff working on the community employment schemes moving over to the Department of Social Protection. There they will be joined by 1,000 community welfare officers from the HSE as well as staff in Social Protection dealing with benefit payments all of which will work in the new service in the Department of Social Protectionthe National Employment and Entitlement Service. Then around 800 FÁS instructors involved in FÁS training at classroom/ workshop level will move under the wing of the VECs This will leave under 400 staff left in FÁS which will be re-branded Solas - the new further education and training authority and will operate under the aegis of the Department of Education. Essentially then, FÁS is to be split into two - community welfare payments to

Solas will indeed be FÁS but without the bells and whistles and a large chunk of its €1 billion budget. At the launch of Solas, the Department of Education said that “over time, FÁS Training Centre premises and most FÁS regional staff will be transferred to the VECs, so that VECs will ultimately be responsible for the delivery to the public in an integrated way of both further education and training services. This will strengthen the role of the reformed VECs in their local communities”. The Department goes on to say that “current FÁS headquarters staff in corporate support functions and senior headquarters and a number of senior regional Training Services management will remain as staff of Solas”. This suggests that the FÁS instructors will indeed become employees of the VECs, albeit “over time”. On the role of Solas itself, education Minister Ruairi Quinn said that the new agency “will ensure that further education and training programmes provide jobseekers and other learners with the

Minister Quinn continued; “This announcement is not in any way to cast aspersions on the good and important work that the FÁS board, the VEC Committee members and the FÁS and VEC staff have done in recent times. Indeed, SOLAS will provide these staff with a new overarching management structure and strategic direction that they will need to allow their work on the ground to have a greater impact”. Phrases such as ‘overarching management structure’ suggests that Solas will indeed be FÁS but without the bells and whistles and a large chunk of its €1 billion budget But Minister Quinn insisted the emphasis will be different. “SOLAS will also ensure that that there is a shift away from skills provision for traditional occupations like construction which have seen a huge fall in employment, and it will have a greater focus on training and education programmes which prepare job seekers and other learners for occupations in growth areas like the services, ICT, medical devices, food and biopharma sectors” said Minister Quinn. “SOLAS will champion a greater emphasis on generic, transferable skills including people-related skills, thinking and problem solving skills and digital literacy skills. SOLAS will be underpinned by stronger quality assurance, occupational standards, international benchmarks and course content reviews” added the Minister. An emphasis on generic skills is to be welcomed, particularly as so many employers have been critical of the basic education skills of people coming out of school barely able to read and write skills which are so basic to every job in any organisation.



TIMESCALE As to timescale, an implementation group, chaired by Minister of State in education, Ciaran Cannon, is being established and it will develop an action plan to bring about the necessary changes and report progress to the cabinet in autumn. As ever, legislation will be required but in advance of that the department said that FÁS will be renamed Solas on an administrative basis “as soon as possible”. “As a first step, SOLAS will take responsibility for all those FÁS staff and premises not being transferred to the department of Social Protection as part of the restructuring already underway. Minister Quinn also invited recent appointments to the FÁS board to see out their term as members of Solas board. Also, the Government appointed Michael Moriarty, general secretary of the Irish Vocational Education Association to replace Sean Gallagher who recently resigned form the board of FÁS. It is understood that current director general of FÁS, Paul O’Toole will become the director general of Solas. But whatever about the imperceptible differences between FÁS and Solas, the approach of the National Employment and Entitlements Service or NEES under the aegis of Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, indicates a significant shift in emphasis. Announcing the launch of the NEES, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said that while social welfare income support remains crucial to protect the jobless against poverty, “passive income support alone is not sufficient if poverty and social exclusion are to be comprehensively addressed”. “This new service delivery model is aimed at increasing social and economic participation. In some cases, the successful outcome will be full-time employment without any further social welfare support. In other cases where people are quite distant from the labour market, measures will support people on social welfare payments taking up their options, such as training and education



The Minister has raised the issue of cutting social welfare payments for those who persistently refuse to take training courses - an unusual stance for a Labour politician but one that given the parlous exchequer situation is necessary.

“In order to address the resourcing demands of a more expansive case management approach consideration will be given to some outsourcing of case management/employment guidance services. In addition to filling a resourcing gap at current levels of demand this approach also provides opportunities to explore new models as well as providing flexibility to vary resource deployment in line with changes in demand profile as the economy recovers. The outsourcing approach, in which providers are contracted on a ‘payment by results’ basis is claimed to be an effective method of coping with fluctuating levels of demand in other states”, says the plan.

The creation of NEES is also contained in the Memorandum of understanding with the EU/IMF/ECB.

This payment by results approach to getting people off the dole has been proposed in Britain.

In the 100-page plan for the new agency drawn up by the Department, a significant emphasis is placed on a casemanagement approach to clients or those on social welfare, with particular emphasis on those who as the Minister puts it those who are “quite distant” from the labour market.

While this suggests that the plan will take a different more hard-line approach to social welfare, there are also ominous signs that little has or will change.

to enhance employability” said the Minister. In effect, what the new agency will do and what Minister Burton has already spoken of, is to try and prevent particularly young people slipping into a welfare mentality - something which is destructive to the individual but also very expensive for the exchequer.

These are the hardcore cases and NEES staff will be assigned a number of these cases the ultimate aim being to get them back into a job, training or education and off the dole. Interestingly, the plan says that such a case-management approach will require a ‘rebalancing’ of resources deployment in the new agency, partly because of expected increased demand on services or an increase in the jobless but also because existing staff have little experience of a case management approach to social welfare recipients. To date, Social Protection has taken a fairly perfunctory form-filling approach to social welfare though FÁS staff has started to adopt a more case based approach recently. But in a radical departure from Department norms, the plan suggests outsourcing of case management services and even says consideration should be given to a payment by results approach.

The plan says, for example, that the new service will cost €21m to set up over the next few years, primarily due to high IT costs but also because of rebranding costs and the recruitment of external consultants. But these are the precise high spending areas that got FÁS into such trouble in the first place. Also, in an attempt to justify the cost, the plan points out that getting somebody off social welfare and into a job on the average industrial wage will save the exchequer over €18,680 made up of welfare payments plus tax and PRSI income. But as with Minister Quinn’s plan to up skill and train people for the ‘new jobs in Ireland’s 21st century labour market’ nowhere in the NEES plan does it mention where or how these ’average industrial jobs’ will materialise. As the numbers unemployed edge ever upwards, it remains to be seen whether a reconfiguration of the state’s training agencies can resolve this core problem ■



People managers can boost job opportunities Gerald Flynn details a new WorkLink job-support initiative being launched by CIPD members A WELCOME initiative has been developed in recent months to face up to the shocking levels of unemployment with effectively more than 400,000 now seeking an employment opportunity. Sadly the tipping point has been reached where the number of long-term unemployed now makes up the main category of the 14.4% of the workforce recorded on the Live Register. The strict statistical figure of 295,000 unemployed from the Quarterly Household Budget Survey - as opposed to the more general Live Register figure masks the numbers seeking jobs who have emigrated, taken up training opportunities or are under-employed selfemployed. In other words – if there were an extra 400,000 jobs we’d have the people available to fill most of them. That stark challenge is being addressed in a small but effective way by the new WorkLink initiative developed by some HR specialists and people managers who want to help unemployed jobseekers and also maximise the take up and effectiveness of the various work activation and employment support programmes that exist such as JobBridge. CIPD-Ireland members are well placed to enhance these schemes by offering mentoring or organisational supports, especially in those smaller organisations that might take on internees but who lack professional HR skills. One of the driving forces behind the WorkLink move is Kevin Empey who sees the initiative as a mechanism for HR and other professionals to provide practical support to both employers and jobseekers in tackling the jobs crisis. The aim is to build an inclusive network of organisations and individuals whose common purpose and motive is to help unemployed jobseekers on their way to meaningful employment.

LinkedIn network

The WorkLink team has begun the process by building this network through a WorkLink group on the LinkedIn social networking site to share ideas and volunteer mentoring and support. Volunteers are emerging from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are retired

or semi-retired HR managers and employment specialists with some spare time and others are professionals in larger organisations offering, for example, to assist smaller firms to plan and develop quality internships and to recruit and select candidates. Over two years ago, as the unemployment rate soared into double figures, many HR professionals were reluctant to get involved due to recessionary related pressures in their own workplace or a fear that they would be inundated with job-applications and a flood of CVs for non-existent jobs. The political landscape has changed and now belated steps are being taken to promote initiatives to boost training, workexperience or career migration. The new WorkLink group has consulted with representative organisations for the unemployed [INOU], employer groups [ISME, IBEC] and state services or agencies [FÁSSolas, Skillnets] as well as CIPD Ireland. They have also secured some financial support from corporate sponsors to help get the organisation off the ground. Mr Empey believes that, given the current jobs outlook, providing well designed, meaningful experience, work placements and internships is an essential option and pathway towards full employment so long as such programmes are effective and reasonably increase the likelihood for the participating jobseeker to enhance their skill set and gain employment as a result. “WorkLink volunteers will work with employers to provide professionally designed programmes with the objective of building skills and experience and transitioning job seekers back to full employment. This will be achieved, in part, by complimenting, partnering and supporting the various labour activation schemes and incentives that are already out there.” WorkLink volunteers will also provide professional mentoring and support directly to jobseekers through jobseeker groups and organisations” Mr Empey added.

Volunteer options

Experienced HR manager and practitioner, Mary Southwell, the general manager for WorkLink adds. “If you are a HR or business leader concerned about the jobs issue, become a volunteer yourself and/or encourage your teams and colleagues to get involved. Those involved will be contributing to a valuable CSR initiative specifically focused on job creation in Ireland,” she said. In addition to the possibility of becoming a host organisation and offering quality internships to jobseekers, Ms Southwell identified three main types of professional volunteers based on the amount of time they can invest in the process and how they wish to help: 1. Programme Managers who have the required skills and capacity to help employers to set up effective internship and work placement programmes. They will work with interested employers to identify potential job placement opportunities and the relevant skills required. Then they will support employers to access the various programmes available, source suitable candidates and advise on best practice on how to make such programmes as effective as possible for both the jobseeker and the host organisation. 2. Job Seeker Mentors who wish to support jobseekers directly in conjunction with other agencies and bodies who provide such services on an on-going basis. CIPD experienced mentors could participate in various information, training and counselling activities and events as requested by the organising groups or agencies to prepare job-seekers for employment or job placement opportunities. 3. Other roles volunteers may wish to take on based on their skills and experience. These could include administrative, IT, research, fund raising, marketing support, setting up of local WorkLink networks and more. WorkLink are currently finalising their preparations and aim to be formally signing up volunteers by the end of September 2011 and providing services to employers and jobseekers in October.They welcome input from anyone who wishes to get involved in the employment and jobs agenda, which is what the WorkLink employment support network is about. If you have any questions about becoming a WorkLink Volunteer or how you could help this initiative, please contact:




The New Pension Levy – Considerations within the HR Profession By Joe McGrath FCIPD

Recently there has been much media attention and debate on the implementation of the new Pension Levy. Should businesses now consider reviewing their policies on pension contributions? What are the options and risks for the future? The New Pension Levy

householders greatest fear was loosing their home. At a time when employee performance is of paramount important is it realistic to suppose that an employee will be working to the best of their ability with such fear for many homeowners?

The introduction of the Pension Levy will see 0.6% taken from private pensions on an annual basis for the next four years. The plan is to use funds generated from this levy to support the jobs initiative. This levy will not only be applied to contributions made from the time of its introduction but, also, on the principle sum accumulated within an individual’s funds. In effect, this means that the closer an individual is to their retirement date the greater the amount they will pay.

Is this fair In Ireland only 46% of the adult workforce, over thirty years of age, are part of a private scheme but how many of these are adequately funded? The government has always rewarded those who took responsibility for funding their own retirement by providing substantial tax relief, however, this has already been reduced and the trend looks set to continue over the next few years. One wonders why the government is being so short-sighted in delivering a double-whammy to these individuals. This move will ensure that many will either reduce or cancel their payments into such schemes. Is it now fair to say that after this commitment that part of their investment would be clawed back by the so called levy?

Considerations for the HR Profession For most employers the current economic climate has meant imposing pay freezes and pay cuts. Recent statistics highlight the ever increasing number of people who are unable to keep up with their mortgage repayments. Traditional employer policies for Defined


Contribution pensions differ greatly but, for the most case, after a qualifying period, an employer contribution of 5 – 10% of salary is paid on the understanding that it will be at least matched by an employee contribution. It is natural, first and foremost, for a person to cater to their basic needs of a place to live and food to eat. Paying into a private pension scheme is, therefore, a luxury few people can afford in times of negative equity combined with high mortgage repayments. Maslow’s theory of the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ developed in the 1940’s - 1950’s states that an individual will first seek to provide themselves with food and shelter before considering other needs. For employees who are already under severe financial pressure, the introduction of water charges next year and the proposed property tax will only increase their worries particularly as the format and pricing structures for such have yet to be agreed. A Sunday Independent / Quantum Research poll found that 29% of Irish

Although widely in operation, the last couple of years have seen an increase in the number of companies introducing Employee Assistance Programmes. These programmes provide many services including independent financial advice and counselling for those who are having difficulty coping with their changing circumstances. Is it time for the HR profession to review their pension policies? So what are the options available? If an individual could receive their employer’s annual pension contribution as a gross payment this would increase most salaries by a minimum of 5% with no additional cost to their employer. Added to this they would have access to their own contribution so, in reality, they could see 5 – 10 % increase in their basic pay. According to the CSO 54% of the adult Irish workforce over thirty years of age do not have a private pension. Of course changes in company policies will create additional problems for our government compounded further by our aging population. However, with the introduction of the levy together with the short-sighted reduction in pension tax relief should employers worry about this or focus on assisting the current needs of their employees without adding costs to their business? ■



Working for a Competitor In a time of economic meltdown businesses have even greater reason to aggressively protect the assets of their business against their competitors. Just such a battle was played out in the High Court recently McCambridge’s and Brennan’s over an alleged “lookalike” brown loaf packaging. On the face of things – famine in Somalia; mass murder in Norway – it seems trivial and trite that such a dispute should occupy the minds of the brightest and best, but the survival of most businesses is about market share and, the packaging of a product is hugely important in getting and retaining a customer base. Employee’s knowledge A business’s assets can also include its employee’s knowledge of the business and its customers and, in order to protect this know how from being exploited by a competitor, it might insert a non– compete clause into the employee’s contract of employment. Generally, the intention behind such a clause is to protect the business’s know how from being exploited by a competitor during the employee’s employment and, more importantly, afterwards.

Typical non-compete clause A typical non-compete clause might read as follows; “You will not set up, consult, contract or work for any individual or company that provides or plans to provide services similar to that which is provided by the company in Dublin whilst in employment and for a period of 12 months after termination of contract”. Non-compete clauses are by their nature anti-competitive and contrary to public policy and, for that reason they are presumed to be invalid and unenforceable, unless the restraint is reasonable, i.e. it protects the employer’s property but does not encroach further on an employee’s right to work when and where he likes. Preventing someone from working for someone else in their specialist field in a particular geographical location for a particular period of time after they leave their employment in case they divulge confidential information belonging to the employer or exploit customer goodwill is a bit like using the proverbial hammer to crack a nut and the Courts will be reluctant to uphold such a restriction unless the employer can show it is a reasonable in the circumstances. The Courts will not allow an employer to use a non-compete clause to prevent competition by a former employee. The

Courts have also said that an employee is entitled to exploit any personal skill or experience even if this has been acquired in the service of his employer. That said an employee is not allowed to use an employer’s property to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Enforcing non–competes In order to get a court to enforce a non-compete clause the employer must first of all identify the property of the business that he wants to protect e.g. its customers and their goodwill; its trade secrets/confidential information and its employees. Once an employer can establish that it has a legitimate property interest that needs protecting the next thing the Court needs to look at is whether the non –compete clause does as it says on the tin, no more and no less. Does it, no more and no less, protect that interest? If the clause affords more than adequate protection to the employer it will be struck down as unenforceable. In determining whether the clause provides adequate protection the Court will look at such things as the breath of the restriction in relation to both time and territory. In most instances a time restriction up to 12 months will be regarded as adequate protection. Anything beyond 12 months risks being regarded as excessive. In addition to a time limitation the Court will also look at the geographical/ territorial limitations. In the non-compete clause given at the beginning of this article the geographical/ territorial restriction is that of Dublin. If an employer fails to put in a geographical restriction the Courts will presume that the restriction is worldwide and will invariably strike down the clause on the basis that it goes beyond adequate protection of the employer’s interest. What is reasonable in relation to territorial restriction will depend on the

territorial reach of the employer’s business which is a matter of fact.

Recent High Court Case In the recent High Court judgment of Justice Dunne (March 2011) in Net Affinity –v- Conaghan and Ors the non –compete clause was exactly as that set out above except it did not contain any geographical restriction ( i.e. did not contain the words ‘in Dublin’). The judge said that she had no issue with the time limitation of 12 months. She did take issue with the fact that there was no limitation on the territorial scope of the clause. In this case the property interests identified by the employer in need of protection were the employer’s clients/ customers and its confidential information. The Court took the view that these assets could be protected by a clause which prevented the employee and her new employer from approaching or dealing with her old employer customers for a period of 12 months. Such a clause would provide adequate protection for the former employer’s property rights and still allow the employee to go and work for a competitor. The interesting thing about this case was even though the Court found that the non-compete clause was excessive and as such invalid and unenforceable it effectively substituted it with another clause thereby protecting the former employer’s property interest but allowing the former employee to go and work for a competitor. It is well to remember that even in the worst of times an employee does not have carte blanche to utilise their former employer’s property rights for their own gain, or that of another employer ■ Jacqui Kelly is a senior associate at A& L Goodbody Solicitors in their Employment Unit and an accredited mediator. Email:




Human Resource Management in the Recession Ireland’s current crisis is the most serious in its history and the country’s economic, fiscal and banking problems are the most acute of all the developed nations. Bill Roche reports new research, conducted by a team at the Smurfit School of Business University College Dublin and the Management School of Queen’s University Belfast, which reveals that HR managers have gained influence in firms and are seeking to balance reductions in payroll costs with measures to preserve motivation and commitment. Ireland’s economic crisis has presented firms and their stakeholders with enormous challenges. Between 2007 and 2009 GDP collapsed by nearly 11 per cent. Unemployment has risen from 4.6 per cent in 2007 to nearly 14 per cent in 2011. The incidence of company insolvencies rose by 80 per cent over the two years to 2010. Average earnings have fallen in the private sector and especially in the public service, where unilateral pay cuts have been imposed. Throw in the virtual nationalisation of Ireland’s financial system, state capitalisation of the banks and resort to an EU/ECB/IMF rescue package in 2010 and the pressures bearing on the economy and business become clear. One of the first casualties of the Irish crisis was the widely admired social partnership model, which collapsed at the end of 2009. For twenty-two years employers, trade unions and governments had succeeded in negotiating recurrent social partnership programmes, which included pay agreements and commitments covering most areas of public policy. In December 2009 social partnership came tumbling down as the Government and public service unions failed to find accommodation on pay and none of the parties could agree a common analysis of Ireland’s economic misfortune and the priorities for revival. Small wonder that surveys show that employees share a bleak view of Ireland’s economic prospects.


Yet new research funded by the Irish Labour Relations Commission and supported by the CIPD, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions shows that HR managers have become pivotal players in the strategies devised by firms to respond to the acute commercial pressures unleashed by the Irish crisis. A survey of nearly 450 managers shows that the influence of HR on business decisionmaking has

increased in the recession. This has come about despite HR functions becoming ‘leaner’ and sometimes undergoing restructuring. The influence of HR has grown because firms have often become dependent on HR knowledge and expertise for survival and for the implementation of HR response measures to chart their way through the recession. Focus groups of HR managers, conducted as part of the research complement the picture emerging in the survey by revealing the extend to which those working in HR



FIGURE 1: 'Hard' and 'Soft' HR Practices in the Recession

HR Practices ‘hard’ HR Practices

‘soft’ HR Practices

• curbs on pay & bonuses • headcount reductions • cuts in working time • curbs on recruitment & promotion • productivity measures

direct cost reduction have become ‘business partners’ in the recession, both inputting into companies’ response strategies in a major way and working with line managers to smooth the implementation of response measures. While the level of influence achieved by people working in HR is without precedent in the experience of the practitioners involved in the study, the research also reveals that HR managers are commonly ‘both partners and working the pumps’. The urgency attached to tackling the immediate challenges of the recession has often meant that little thought or effort has gone into the issue of strategically aligning HR practices to contribute to firms’ recovery and growth over the medium-term. HR practitioners remain wedded to an understanding of good HR which preserves many classical or long-standing principles and practices: the importance of fairness, the need to advocate for company HR policies and to be willing to provide leadership in that context in the event that line managers seek to use the recession to cut corners in their dealings with staff. Several of the companies participating in the research, like Ireland’s state-owned airport operator, the Dublin Airport

• communications • engagement & involvement • training, talent management & staff redeployment • larger pay cuts for higher-paid • in-sourcing work

maintain motivation & commitment Authority, and leading estate agents, Sherry FitzGerald, implemented tiered pay cuts, with the highest earning staff accepting the highest proportionate pay cuts, as a way of promoting fairness and increasing organizational cohesion. Other principles and practices associated with good practice have been elevated in priority and significance in the recession. Communications, in particular, have become more important and more intensively used in most firms. While the communication mechanisms used by firms have not changed a great deal, there has been a shift in emphasis towards direct and face-to-face communications, as firms have sought to promote an understanding and an acceptance of the difficult commercial circumstances in which they are operating and the need for appropriate HR response measures. HR practitioners in unionized firms continue to avow the need to engage productively with trade union representatives, but here too significant changes are evident. Union officials are sometimes given access to commercially sensitive financial information early in the process of agreeing response measures, especially where pay cuts and redundancies are in prospect. HR managers also expect

agreements to be concluded through significantly shorter negotiating cycles than common prior to the recession.

"BUNDLES" OF HR The research examined the combinations or ‘bundles’ of HR practices used by firms to respond to recessionary pressures. Applying a distinction commonly used in the field of HRM, the results distinguished between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ HR practices (see Figure 1). Hard HR practices focus on direct payroll reductions by means of pay cuts, headcount reductions, cuts in working time and productivity improvements. Soft HR practices focus on maintaining staff motivation and commitment and include such areas as communications, employee engagement, talent management and the best paid senior staff accepting the highest cuts in pay and bonuses. The survey results show that firms took a very versatile approach to the recession. A wide range of hard HR practices to address its severe effects and many challenges. The majority of firms (more than seven out of ten) froze wages and salaries for some or all staff, half cut wages and salaries for some or all staff, while more than half cut the bonus for some or all staff. Just over



one in five firms made changes to pension arrangements for existing staff while a smaller number did so for new staff. Reductions in headcount and changes to staffing arrangements were achieved through a variety of means. Freezes in general recruitment were implemented in around half of the firms in the survey, as were compulsory redundancies. Almost a third introduced voluntary redundancies. More than four out of ten firms redeployed staff to new positions or product lines within the business. The most common working time measures adopted were reduced overtime and an increased use of short-time and part-time working. Over a quarter of firms reported matching working time arrangements better to the pattern of demand faced by the business. But firms in general sought to combine hard HR practices focused in reducing payroll costs with a series of soft HR practices focused on maintaining motivation and commitment. Nearly nine out of ten firms claimed that communications had become more important in the recession. More than half said that they had undertaken specific employee engagement measures and had actively involved employees in the development of options for responding to the recession. Less than four out of ten had implemented higher cuts in either pay or bonuses for senior staff. Statistical analysis confirmed that firms generally sought to implement programmes combining hard and soft HR measures, revealing a concern that payroll reductions should not be achieved at the expense of a severe loss of motivation and commitment. Finally the study examined whether there were any compelling indications that the recession was acting as a catalyst for lasting changes or transformations in work and employment patterns. One important strand of commentary in the professional and academic HR literature concerns the likely effects of the recession in this area. Both currently and in past recessions, especially the US and UK recessions of the 1980s, some



commentators believed that recessions could act as a powerful source of lasting change or disjuncture, not alone in human resource management, but also in more general work and employment arrangements in firms. The study concluded that few indications of powerful and lasting change of this kind could be found. While the HR function was commonly more important in the recession, the new centrality of HR practitioners was primarily rooted in their contribution to tackling immediate problems. The new centrality of HR does not appear to have translated commonly into leadership with respect to HR strategy over the medium to long-term.

Nearly nine out of ten firms claimed that communications had become more important in the recession. More than half said that they had undertaken specific employee engagement measures and had actively involved employees in the development of options for responding to the recession. HR managers in general do not appear to have seized the recession as an opportunity for HR transformation. Few instances were reported in the focus groups or case studies where HR managers were active in positioning HR practices, systems or processes to support business revival over the medium- or long-term. Where such an instance was identifiable, for example in the Ericsson case study, the strategic focus of the HR function preceded the recession. For the most part, changes and response programmes in the firms in which case studies were undertaken sought to preserve pre-recession HR strategies and reflected long-established relationships between the parties. Thus the innovative

agreement at the Dublin Airport Authority, linking the reversal of pay cuts with the attainment of business and financial targets reflects a heritage of stable industrial relations and significant past innovation. The agreement in the US medical devices manufacturer, Medtronic, reflects preexisting good industrial relations and a shared awareness of the need to co-operate to protect and extend the subsidiary’s mandate from the parent company. Tiered salary reductions in the estate agent, Sherry Fitzgerald, reflect an organisation that has traditionally valued staff cohesion and commitment as key brand attributes. The survival and partnership agreements negotiated at the quality-focused retailer, Superquinn, reflect a tradition of good if paternalistic industrial relations extending back to the company’s previous owner. The pivotal HR competencies programme implemented in Ericsson’s Irish operations preceded the recession and has been retained in the Irish subsidiary even while job losses triggered by global restructuring have occurred. The picture therefore is of firms focusing more on trying to preserve pre-recession HR, work and employment arrangements across the recession rather than on using the recession as a means of bringing about transformation. Bill Roche is Professor of Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College, Dublin. Human Resources in the Recession: Managing and Representing People in Work in Ireland was co-authored by William K. Roche (Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College, Dublin), Paul Teague (Queen’s University Belfast), Majella Fahy and Anne Coughlan (Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College Dublin). An executive summary of the study can be obtained from the Labour Relations Commission at symposium11/Exec-Summary-HumanResources-in-the-Recession.pdf. The detailed study was recently published in book form (see page across) ■

HR Challenges of the Recession Revealed in Major New Book How has the recession affected the conduct of human resource management? How have HR departments and managers fared? How have leading firms sought to sustain and revive their businesses through innovative HR measures? How have union representation and influence been affected? Is the recession reshaping work and employment in Ireland? These are among the questions answered in Human Resources in the Recession, the first systematic study in Europe to deal with the effects of the economic crisis on people at work. Drawing on survey data provided by nearly 500 managers responsible for human resources, on focus groups of HR managers and trade union officials and on detailed case studies of Sherry FitzGerald, Medtronic, Ericsson, the DAA, Irish Life and Permanent and Superquinn, the book provides an unrivalled picture of the effects of the Irish recession on how people are managed and how they are represented by trade unions. The book examines businesses in Ireland in the context of international experience and commentary and provides detailed information and analysis on the ways in which firms have sought to handle the challenges that have arisen since the severe reverse in Ireland’s economic fortunes in 2008. Research for the book was funded by the Labour Relations Commission and supported by CIPD, IBEC and the ICTU. The book is an indispensable source of information and informed analysis for HR managers, businesses, trade unions, lecturers, teachers, trainers, researchers, policy-makers and general readers.

Book Details:

Human Resources in the Recession: Managing and Representing People at Work in Ireland By William K. Roche School of Business, University College Dublin Paul Teague School of Management, Queen’s University Belfast Anne Coughlan School of Business, University College Dublin Majella Fahy School of Business, University College Dublin

To be purchased directly from: Government Publications Sale Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 or by mail order from: Government Publications, Postal Trade Section, Unit 20, Lakeside Retail Park, Claremorris, Co Mayo. (Tel. 01 – 6476834/37 or 1890 213 434; Fax: 01 6476843 or 094 – 9378964 or email

Published by the Stationery Office, Dublin. © Labour Relations Commission June 2011 ISBN 978-1-4064-2587-1 Price: €15.00



Between Ourselves:

Employee engagement in challenging economic times This summer, Accenture hosted a CIPD members evening event at their offices in Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2, on employee engagement in challenging economic times. The event ‘Between Ourselves’ was attended by over 100 CIPD members and Accenture employees. Ryan Shanks, Accenture Talent & Organisational Performance country lead acted as MC for the evening with Michael McDonnell, CIPD Director providing opening marks. Mark Ryan, Managing Director of Accenture in Ireland provided an overview of Accenture’s local business and spoke of the importance of employee engagement to the global company which employs over 1300 people here in Ireland and more than 230,000 across 51 countries. He talked about the three different platforms comprising Accenture’s business - Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing – and the different skill sets and career focus of each part of the workforce. He also provided insights into Accenture’s recruitment processes and talked about the importance of attracting and retaining talent in a competitive marketplace, determining the required skills and competencies for the future and keeping employees motivated and energised in the absence of financial reward. Deirdre Hillery, Senior Manager in Accenture’s Talent & Organisational Performance division provided an overview of Accenture’s work supporting clients across a range of industries on their employee engagement programmes, including dealing with the challenges and the opportunities of employee engagement during a recession. She explained the common pitfalls companies encounter when attempting engagement programmes, including: glossing over


(l to r) Ryan Shanks, Deirdre Hillery and Mark Ryan of Accenture with Michael McDonnell, Director at CIPD

the hard stuff; asking for feedback and not taking action; not outlining clear ownership between HR and the business; and misjudging the performance culture.

of Accenture’s People Programme currently in train:

Deirdre talked to attendees on how sustainable performance improvement requires more than traditional interventions, with a focus on performance coaching and team effectiveness. She said that the leadership team need to take ownership of employee engagement but HR have a role to play in selling the business benefits of employee engagement to Management. There also needs to be a focus on the Performance Culture of an organisation.

• Clarifying and refreshing the Accenture Career Proposition in each workforce

Lynsey O’Brien, Manager within Accenture’s internal HR team provided insight into how employee engagement is measured at Accenture and the importance of such measurement. It enables the company to link employee attitudes to behaviour and business measures, as well as identify the drivers and subdrivers that will have the most impact on improving overall engagement and individual career experiences. Obtaining employee feedback and analyzing the results, enables Accenture to build an action plan and ultimately change business-as-usual. Accenture’s Employee Engagement spans several elements including: Company, Work, Opportunities, Work Environment, People and Rewards & Recognition. Lynsey also talked about some elements

• Increasing the clarity, transparency and effectiveness of Accenture’s Performance Management process

• Re-invigorating the Accenture Career Counseling Model Post the presentations Mark Ryan and Ryan Shanks hosted a Q&A session on the challenges facing organisations around employee engagement, with a particular focus on performance management and how organisations can get maximum performance from employees, often in the absence of financial reward. The evening concluded with an opportunity to network with CIPD members and the Accenture team. Susanne Jeffery, HR, Director of Accenture in Ireland said; “The strong attendance at this recent event showed that employee engagement is top of mind for HR practitioners currently. Despite the challenges posed by the economic situation, companies know they must do all they can to motivate and retain their employees if they wish to maintain the same level of customercentricity and successfully grow their businesses for the future.” The feedback from all delegates was very promising and Accenture looks forward to working with CIPD on other future events. See photos on (Flickr) ■



CIPD Southern Region hears the HR has never been so relevant at Programme Launch Event On September 7th last, the CIPD’s HR professionals gathered to launch the CIPD Southern Region 2011/12 Programme of Events in the hospitality suite of Heineken Ireland situated in Cork City. It was a wonderful opportunity to renew old acquaintances after the summer break and to network. Charles Dolan, Chairperson of the Southern Committee welcomed the members. Doreen Gerety, National Chair of CIPD Ireland gave a very interesting perspective on the role HR and the CIPD are playing in recessionary times.

of events throughout the year. Heineken Ireland kindly sponsored this launch event. The next Southern Region Event is titled: The Agency Worker’s Directive with Jennifer Cashman, Partner in Ronan Daly Jermyn. It is on the Maryborough Hotel on Wednesday 28th September at 7.30 am where full Irish breakfast will be served. Recruit Ireland are sponsoring this event. All are welcome. For further details, please contact Sandra Coombes, Committee PRO at or visit

Midlands Region: "Launch of Programme of Events 2011/2012 - Social & Networking Event"

Kilbeggan Racecourse, Co. Westmeath. Friday 2nd Sept 2011

Members heard that HR leaders have never been so relevant and are of critical importance. “We have finally found our seat at the table”, said Ms. Gerety, because business leaders have a real need for the added value that HR can bring to so many complex dilemmas facing businesses and people currently.

CIPD Programme of Events

A very relevant and progressive schedule of events for the CIPD Southern Region was launched at the event. It has been compiled to assist HR professionals to keep up to date with legislation and to equip them with best practice ideas to enable them to be a driving force in employee engagement and development in this economic climate. The coming year promises to present a wide range of challenges to the HR community making it ever more important to pool together knowledge and areas of expertise. Events throughout the year include a mock rights commissioner evening, seminars on current industrial relations, mediation, organisational change, the use of social media in recruitment and investigating bullying and harassment in the workplace. Charles Dolan looks forward to the year ahead with great energy and enthusiasm and believes that it would not be possible to run the events without the commitment of the hard working committee members who volunteer their time behind the scenes. He also acknowledged the continued generousity of the sponsors without whose support would make it impossible to provide a wide array

The launch for this year’s programme was a social and networking event, kindly sponsored by Kilbeggan Races. An entertaining evening was had by all including the lucky individuals who backed some winners on the night. The overriding theme throughout the upcoming programme of events will focus on “Providing a Practical Approach to People Management”. Speakers on the night included Tom Ryan (Chairperson, CIPD Midlands Committee) and Paddy Dunican Manager Kilbeggan Racecourse. Tom discussed how the group is an active member of the Midlands Gateway Chamber and is committed to working closely with AIT, FAS, Enterprise Ireland, IDA and other Midlands agencies to support regional initiatives and to promote people development and business performance. During his presentation Paddy Dunican talked about the history of the Kilbeggan Race course, how it was embedded in the community and was a good example of people working collaboratively. All CIPD Midlands events are free to attend for members. For more details, or to be placed on the distribution list, please contact Patrick O’Brien, Hon Secretary, CIPD Midlands Region on

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE New Appointment at McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland

McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland has appointed Alison Hodgson as its new HR Director. Ms Hodgson will oversee all human resource activity for McDonald’s Ireland as it continues with its expansion plans for the rest of 2011 and into 2012. Ms Hodgson joins McDonald’s Ireland from Celerant Consulting where she served as European HR Director in an interim capacity. She previously spent five years with the Royal Mail Group where she held various roles including HR director, Group Talent Director and Group Head of Resourcing. Prior to this Ms Hodgson also worked with Expedia, the Sodexho Group, Worldcom, Salomon Smith Barney and Marks & Spencer PLC. A graduate of Queens University Belfast, Ms Hodgson holds a degree in Psychology and also has a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology from the same university. Ms Hodgson is also an accredited Coaching practitioner with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), a Fellow of the CIPD and past Chair of professional membership body The Association of Graduate Recruiters.

Barry Holmes Joins RCSI as new Director of Human Resources

Mr. Barry Holmes has joined the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland as the new Director of Human Resources and a member of the Senior Management Team. Barry joins the College from RSA Insurance Ireland Ltd where he was the Director of Human Resources. Prior to RSA Insurance Ireland Ltd, Barry held a number of senior HR roles at Intel Ireland and was an Industrial Relations Executive with the Irish Business Employers' Confederation (IBEC). Barry was educated at University College Dublin where he completed both a B.Comm and a Masters Degrees specializing in Human Resource Management. In addition, Barry is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development (MCIPD).

If you would like to announce your new appointments please email for details


HEADING CIPD Ireland 1 Regional Programme of Events 2011 – 2012


Full details for each event are available from DATE



02/09/11 06/09/11 14/09/11 15/09/11 22/09/11 23/09/11 28/09/11 05/10/11 12/10/11 20/10/11 26/10/11 27/10/11 27/10/11 09/11/11 15/11/11 16/11/11 17/11/11 18/11/11 18/11/11 21/11/11 24/11/11 24/11/11 30/11/11 06/12/11 08/12/11 08/12/11 18/01/12 19/01/12 25/01/12 25/01/12 08/02/12 16/02/12 22/02/12 23/02/12 06/03/12 07/03/12 08/03/12 15/03/12 28/03/12 29/03/12 04/04/12 04/04/12 10/04/12 18/04/12 19/04/12 25/04/12 25/04/12 01/05/12 09/05/12 16/05/12 22/05/12

Midlands Group Programme Launch Southern Group Programme Launch South East Programme Launch Eastern Group Programme Launch Western Group Programme Launch Mid-West Programme Launch The Agency Workers Directive Mediation - A Cost Saving Proposition LinkedIn & Social Media at Work World of Work Trends Human Resource Management in the Recession HR Continuous Improvement CIPD Student Graduation Ceremony Managing Organisational Change Performance, Management & Development Workplace Investigations Driving Business Performance & Growth through HR Employee Voice & Engagement Gala Dinner Dance CIPD Autumn Conference Agency Worker Directive – How to protect yourself Performance Management Investigating Bullying & Harassment Reward in 2012 - Back to the Future? CIPD Student Member Certificate Presentation Christmas Networking & Social Event Employment Law Update Succession Management Leading Change Employment Law Update Rights Commissioner The Psychology of Incentives Change Management Encouraging Voluntary Pension Savings Joint Insurance Inst of Cork / CIPD Effective Case Preparation Managing the Pace of Change Employment Law Update EHA - Current Health Issues Employment Law Update Workplace Conflict / Trends in IR Annual Meeting John Lovett Memorial Lecture Embedding a Coaching Culture Annual Meeting & Networking Event Strengthening Resilience Against Stress at Work Musgrave Site Visit Great Places to Work Employment Law Update & Annual Meeting Golf Outing Improving Talent & Organisation Performance

Midlands Southern South East Eastern Western Mid West Southern Southern South East Eastern Mid West Western Midlands Southern Eastern Midlands South East Western Western Eastern South East Western Southern Eastern Southern South East Mid West Western Eastern Midlands Southern Eastern Mid West Western Southern Midlands Eastern South East Southern Western South East South East Mid West Midlands Western Eastern Southern Mid West Southern Mid West Eastern


People Focus - Winter 2011  

People Foucs Magazine - Winter 2011 edition

People Focus - Winter 2011  

People Foucs Magazine - Winter 2011 edition