A third of businesses in the Republic of Ireland are considering reducing or restructuring their workforce because of Covid-19, according to new research.
Two-thirds of employers asked in a survey by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson have already implemented a hiring freeze or have actively reduced hiring activities
Pay is also in the firing line, with the survey finding that many employers are considering pay reductions and, although just 17% said they had already cut pay, half of those surveyed said they are considering it.
Half of respondents also said they are considering and planning for a delay of bonus payments.
The Willis Towers Watson research - an annual survey of salary and work practices - is part of a global analysis and it contained more than 200 responses from companies in the Republic.
The survey found that the level of uncertainty about the economy into 2021 meant that 33% of employers surveyed were "actively planning to either reduce their workforce or undertake organisation wide restructuring in response to Covid-19".
The remaining 67% of those surveyed stated that they would either freeze or reduce hiring across their organisations.
Of those employers who said that they planned to reduce their workforce, 13% said that they had already reduced numbers and another 50% were considering reducing their headcount.
Willis Towers Watson said that although many businesses had availed of furlough schemes in recent months, it was "encouraging to see that almost half of those surveyed (45%) have no plans to place employees on involuntary unpaid leave of absences".
About two-thirds of organisations were, however, engaging with their workforce regarding potential voluntary unpaid leave or furloughs for interested employees, it said. Sarah McDonough, country lead for talent and rewards at Willis Towers Watson, said: "This report is a good insight as to how Irish businesses are finding their feet, reacting to the severe impacts of Covid-19 and overall planning.
"While the crisis has not impacted all sectors equally, future planning will be an important consideration across the board. It will however be a challenge but through this research and our own work with clients, we are seeing large numbers of companies making changes to how they operate to safeguard their future." But she said measures such as hire freezes should not be allowed to hamper overall growth.