Report from Law School recommends a number of key policy changes in the wake of Covid-19

The report includes a recommendation for a state-backed insurance fund to cover pandemics

The Covid-19 Legal Observatory at Trinity’s School of Law released a report today recommending a number of key policy changes in an attempt to combat the socio-economic issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. 

The report, entitled ‘Law and Policy Responses to COVID-19 in Ireland: Supporting Individuals, Communities, Businesses, and the Economy (Response Report)’, made recommendations in the areas of Rental Housing; Banks and Mortgages; Workforce and Employment; Social Protection; Business Interruption and Insurance; Corporate Governance and the EU Recovery Package.

In the area of housing, the report recommends such actions as publicising the expanded protections for tenants with respect to rent increases, a review of the current statutory regime around holiday lettings in the medium term, and limiting no-fault evictions to landlords with no more than three residential properties available for let or being let

They also recommend the introduction of a code of conduct in respect of dealing with mortgage arrears accruing in respect of commercial premises and in respect of non-primary principal residences.

With regard to employment, the report recommends that employers take due care to protect employees and members of their households from being exposed to Covid-19 and appropriately consider other dimensions of their wellbeing in the workplace, including when working from home. 

They recommend that policy consideration is given to enacting measures to directly address protection of the right of an employee to enjoy their leisure time, and that consideration be given to enhancing taxation measures available to workers and employers to fund purchase of appropriate equipment for working from home. 

They also recommend the creation of a state-backed insurance fund to cover pandemics, which would eliminate disputes on cover and ensure businesses receive needed economic support in the future.

They noted that, although their findings in this report did not give rise to significant concerns around discrimination in Ireland’s public policy treatment of Covid-19, there is scope to analyse structural inequality concerns in vulnerability towards catching the disease and accessing treatment.

Co-editor of the report and associate professor at the School of Law Dr Deirdre Ahern noted that although the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine is “welcome”, it is “unlikely to immediately solve economic distress experienced by individuals, communities and businesses.” She also notes that a vaccine will “not address inequalities in dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.”

This is the first in a series of planned reports aiming to shape public policy and law reform through analysing Ireland’s response to Covid-19.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Deptuty Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister Sociology and Social Policy student. She previously served as News Editor and Assistant News Editor.