The Equality Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Irish Labour Market

HRHQ Equality report

by HRHQ Editorial Team

A new study from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), explores the equality impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the labour market, comparing the situation pre- and post-pandemic. Findings show that employment rates rose for almost all groups analysed post-pandemic, while unemployment and labour market inactivity generally fell.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on society, and a seismic impact on economic rights and access to work, through the range of public health restrictions imposed. In this context, the labour market recovery has been extraordinary, and shines a light on the buffering effect of the Government’s supports for businesses, employers and individuals, highlighting the protective and stabilising role of significant public investment.

The study argues that the recovery was likely facilitated by large-scale state intervention during the pandemic in terms of employment and social welfare supports. At their height, COVID-related employment schemes supported around one million individuals and 37,000 enterprises. Such schemes could be usefully activated in future labour market crises, if they were carefully designed and adequately resourced.

While employment recovered the pattern of inequalities that existed before the pandemic are the same after the pandemic.  There is also evidence that some groups have fallen further behind, for example people with lower education levels faired poorer than other groups, both in terms of labour market participation and the nature of work available to them, during the period. The available data also highlights that disabled people’s economic activation pre and post-pandemic shows little change, underlining the need for targeted employment strategies for historically marginalised groups. Additionally, we know that access to remote work was not evenly spread.

View the full report here