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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 Oct 1967

Vol. 230 No. 8

Redundancy Payments Bill, 1967: Committee Stage (Resumed).


I move amendment No. 8:

In page 6, line 1, to delete paragraph (c).

Again on this point, just as we tried to defend people under 18 years, there is also the problem of people who have attained the age of 65 and are not covered by the Bill. A man could very well find himself out of work at the age of 66 with no arrangement whatever under the terms of this Bill. If the Minister should plead that we have remained in step with the social welfare legislation, we would point out that the old age pension does not come into effect until 70, and surely this figure should be raised up to 70. Admittedly, in Britain the year is 65 for benefits of this sort; but in Britain they get the old age pension at 65.

We would point out the obvious injustice to a man who has worked all his life with the one firm and is let go. Under the terms of this Bill, he will get absolutely nothing. We would ask the Minister how many cases it would apply to and how much it would cost to extend the scope of the Bill? In all justice, the terms of this Bill should cover a man of 66 who is let go, especially when we remember the old age pension is not given until 70. The Bill should bring into its net those most in want.

Would Deputy Jones agree that amendment No. 9 be discussed with this?

Yes, Sir. We are very much in favour of an arrangement such as this. The point in our amendment is to ensure that people after the age of 65 must be considered within the terms of any Bill like this. There are firms which have schemes such as this and the intention of our amendment is to deal with workers over the age of 65 unless they are covered by the terms of their employment. I know some firms in my constituency who do this for their employees. There is a pension scheme operated by these firms; otherwise, I should like to support the point of view of the hardship imposed on people of 65½ or 66 who are left absolutely defenceless between that age and the age of 70, as our social welfare code stands. Unless they were to have the benefit of a social welfare code where pensions were granted at 65, it would be a very grave hardship on people at that age to find themselves made redundant and left without any income. For that reason I should like to press the Minister to accept this amendment.

I merely wish to reiterate the point of view that it would be a great pity if all these categories of workers of age 65 and onwards were excluded from this redundancy payments scheme, especially when one remembers that industrial work nowadays is so demanding, so exacting, so rigorous, that many are compelled to give up work in the early sixties. With the drive for rationalisation and new techniques towards greater efficiency and economy, more and more is being demanded of the worker and we find in many of these highly skilled industries that workers are virtually burnt out when they come to middle age. We have evidence of their being decrepit, suffering from constant illness and eventually being forced to retire in the early sixties. Therefore, we can expect that in this situation very many thousands of retirals will take place in the early sixties.

In the absence of any cover by way of pension for these categories of workers, we have a compelling case to make to the Minister and the Government. These people are denied the old age pension until they attain the age of 70, and it is fair to claim that they should be covered by redundancy legislation in these particularly lean and dangerous years. Unless the Minister could give us an assurance that the old age pension would be made payable at age 65 and that these people could look forward to their contributory old age pension, we would have to insist, and insist we will, that the people between the ages of 65 and 70 be covered by this Bill.

It would be a great disrespect to all those workers who have given a lifetime of loyal and devoted service to their employers if they were not covered. These are the people who have the real claim on redundancy payments, by reason of the part they played in industry, the contribution they made towards the wellbeing of the enterprise, its efficiency and its profitability. These are the people who merit most of all the coverage of this Bill and an assurance that when they come to the end of their working lives and when they have spent themselves physically and mentally in the discharge of their duties as the real producers of the wealth of this country, they will be covered by the State in the event of their becoming redundant.

If it is left to employers to decide who will be dismissed when it comes to redundancy, they invariably pick on those older men and women who no longer have the stamina or the dexterity to give the kind of production which the employer expects. These are the people who will be picked upon in the event of slackness of trade, and they are the people who, as I have said, need badly and urgently the cover of this Bill. If these workers are not entitled to an old age pension until age 70, it is vitally necessary and desirable that they be covered by this legislation between the ages of 65 and 70. If they are not, this Bill will have failed abjectly in its primary purpose of ensuring that people who have given the best years of their lives and energies do not suffer hardship when it comes to the unhappy day when they are dismissed from their employment.

I, too, would urge the Minister to reconsider the age limit, as I think it would be entirely wrong, when we give old age pensions only at 70, to deny redundancy payments to people over 65. I make this appeal for some of the reasons mentioned by Deputy Treacy with which I agree; there are other reasons he cited with which I do not agree, for instance, when he says that workers are spent in their early sixties. With the greater expectation of life, which is increasing all the time, and with the situation as it will be in this country as in most European countries, of a much greater percentage of people over 70 in the years to come, it is only fair that we should make redundancy payments up to 70 years of age.

A man who has spent all his working life contributing to the general welfare by his activity and his production should get consideration in this Bill. We should show we appreciate what he has done and ensure that the country will not be ungrateful to him. I hope the Minister can alter this age limit, because if he does not, then I for one will be very disappointed in this Bill. We owe it to these people, and there will be a great many men and women who on reaching 70 will qualify for the old age pension and who, if they should be affected by redundancy, would also benefit by the redundancy payments. No worker in the younger age group will begrudge paying the contribution so that we can finance this scheme up to 70. With the progress in geriatrics, we will have a lot of old people who will still be quite capable of getting around and doing some work. If they should become redundant and are not compensated, they will not have sufficient income to maintain them, and if they have an aged wife, they will not live very long. On this side of the House we have always considered the old aged, and strongly urge the Minister to extend the age limit to 70. It will be a black mark against the whole Bill if this is not done and I appeal to the Minister to do it so that we can take in the group covered by the extra five years. Perhaps in the future, when amending the Bill, we shall be able to go higher, to 75.

The Minister should consider sympathetically the Labour Party amendments which seek to extend payments to people of 70 years of age. We seek to protect people who would have no protection if let go by an employer at 65 with no right to a pension. The Minister and the House should be considerate of people of this age who may become redundant because of technological changes in the industry in which they are employed or because there has been a falling off in the consumption of particular goods, and who would, if they were less than 65 years, be entitled to benefit under the Bill.

Possibly one the factors which influenced the Minister in introducing the Bill is the change that has been taking place in industry in regard to adaptation procedures, different techniques. In many cases the result has been that workers with fairly long service find themselves unable to stick the pace. It may be difficult to retrain them for new techniques and in these circumstances the employer declares redundancy in his firm or in a section of it and lays off workers of this age. The problem does not and will not arise in the same circumstances where the workers are covered by the wording of the Labour Party amendments which seek to add persons who have attained the age of 65 years and are entitled to and will be paid a retirement pension. That is the gravamen of the situation. If the persons are entitled to and will be paid pensions, the matter is not of such serious concern, but there are many cases where workers have no pensions and if they become redundant they have nothing to fall back on, except for a short period, some social welfare benefits. There are others employed in concerns where there is a gratuity—in most cases a miserable sum—which is liable to be withdrawn at any time by the employer.

In putting down the amendments, the Labour Party considered the position of these people who need consideration. The Minister, as Minister for Labour, is involved in the encouragement of technical development and of adaptation procedures and so on. He is aware that in a number of concerns where agreements have been made to introduce new techniques, agreements have also been made that there shall be (a) no redundancy and (b) where there are pension schemes, there can be early retirement on full pension. The Minister must also be aware that in the great majority of concerns employing workers, it has been found impossible to make such arrangements. Consequently, the very first victims—and they are and can be victims—of technological change will be the workers approaching 60 to 65 years of age. That is why the Labour Party stress, not just the question of extending the age but also of including in the section provision that those who are not covered by pension schemes to which they would be entitled by right should be covered by the Bill in the manner set out in the amendments. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment because it entitles the people concerned to the consideration which I think they deserve from the House and the Minister.

I want to add my voice to that of the other speakers. Being a member of a Party concerned with the wellbeing of all sections and as we have as Minister for Labour a very kind and charitable man, it would be very hard luck on a man of 65 if he became redundant. Some time in the future when the economics of the country allow it, we may be able to go back to 65 with old age pensions, but if a man of 65 is not entitled to a pension and if he is in sound health, he should get the opportunity of staying on until he is 70. Everything considered, we must defend the position of such a man. I appreciate the Minister's responsibilities but I have faith enough in human nature to believe that good employers will not like to see a very active and experienced man of 65 being let off. With much goodwill on both sides, this matter can be settled and I appeal to my colleagues on both sides of the House to approach the matter in that spirit.

I support the idea of having the benefit extended to people of 70. If we were to pass this section as it is worded, we would be excluding a considerable number who would be affected by redundancy. You would have a situation where there might be a factory in which people of all ages were working, some of them over 65, even the old man sweeping the floor. They would find they could not retire because they could not get a pension at 65 from the State and the employer does not provide pensions for them. Consequently they are forced to continue working. If redundancy occurred in that particular factory, the situation would be that everybody under 65 would qualify for redundancy payments and the older people over 65 would be left out in the cold. I do not think that is the Minister's intention. I do not think he would wish that situation to come about.

We do know that there are far too few employers who have pension schemes in operation in their respective businesses. We also know that the old age pension does not operate until the age of 70. I am well aware of the fact that in the Six Counties the age limit is 65 but there the State pension applies at 65. The Labour Party amendment is highlighting the situation, not with a view to making any great capital out of it. I should imagine that it only remains to direct the Minister's attention to this matter and he will put it right.

I am pleased to hear that Deputy Moore and Deputy Burke support this idea. I know the influence and power that Deputy Burke has in many things. I am glad he has received inspiration from the Labour Party in connection with this amendment.

Thank you very much.

That being so, I would ask the Minister to accede to this proper request. No matter what may be said for or against the amount of payment or anything else emanating from this Bill, it is certainly undesirable to exclude from its scope anybody who would not benefit in any other way. There is no denying what I have already said. A person over 65 who finds himself involved in a redundancy payments scheme, anticipates, at least, benefit such as would be applicable were he under 65. The Minister is now setting out to exclude him. I do not believe this is deliberate. If the old age pension were operative at 65 years of age, the Minister might have a case but in our circumstances there is no case at all for the exclusion of persons over 65 years of age.

I just want to add my voice to those of other speakers who have asked the Minister to consider this matter. Quite frankly, I think there is a bit of a pantomime going on here with regard to this section because I firmly believe that the Minister intends to accept this amendment. One is not used to profiles of courage from Fianna Fáil backbenchers. The fact that both Deputy Moore and Deputy Burke have taken their courage in their hands and have added their voices to the Labour voice in regard to this amendment makes the position fairly obvious and I will be very surprised if the Minister does not accept the amendment. I would urge him to do so.

Will the Minister accept our amendment?

You are putting me in the position of challenging me to do it. I will not accept it now, not after what Deputy Cluskey said. I would not have this kind of thing.

Is the Minister more concerned with Party than with justice?

I had very good reasons for taking 65 as the upper limit. The fact is that 65 is regarded as the normal retirement age in most industries, especially those with private pension schemes.

You do not give old age pensions at that age.

We would be putting employers in a position where they would be expected to make redundancy payments to people who would be retiring at the expected and normal time.

I think Deputies are also aware that unemployment benefits over the age of 65 are not subject to the requalification condition and this means that people are not completely without benefit between the ages of 65 and 70. Under 65 years of age, after 312 days, a person has to requalify by 13 weeks of stamps but this does not hold in the case of a person over 65. Apart from what Deputy Cluskey said, the Dáil should be aware, especially after last night, that I am prepared to listen to the House and to make changes in Bills, but not for this type of carry-on that Deputy Cluskey is at. This is a very important measure benefiting a section of our people and we should approach it in that spirit. I am quite prepared to listen to the Dáil and to change my mind going through the House and Deputies know that, but I am not prepared to have this type of thing.

I appeal to the Minister to consider once more the claims we have made in this matter. It is true that there is an amendment in the name of our Party, but it is, as the Minister would agree, an amendment that has occurred to many of his own backbenchers and other people. Common to all Parties this morning is the feeling that it is only reasonable to include persons between the ages of 65 and 70, a period which is not covered adequately in this country but which is covered adequately in Britain where the old age pension comes into effect at the age of 65. If we have logically accepted at one end that 16 years of age should be taken as the period of commencement in accordance with our amendment, surely it should apply with equal justice at the other end of the scale, that 65 years of age should not be the upper limit, when one takes into account that as a result of the lack of social welfare arrangements, our work force in many cases must work after the age of 65.

Therefore, we would ask the Minister again to reconsider this matter. We do not know if it applies to a great number of people but it would be a pity if, misinterpreting the attitude of any Deputy this morning, a section of the population who should be looked after were ruled out. They can be looked after by raising the ceiling to the age of 70. I would certainly suggest that hardship at that end is far more severe than in the case we were considering last night of young persons being dismissed at the age of 20. If we have agreed at one end at least to consider that service counts from the age of 16, surely we should see that the person at the other end of the scale, when a man must consider every bit of cash he can get in the light of the approaching long unemployment of old age, should be covered in any legislation. Any money given by his employer to a man between the ages of 65 and 70 will not be spent on a riotous weekend. It must be garnered carefully and considered against the approaching long unemployment, especially when we consider that the old age pension arrangements in this country are far from generous, when we understand that most of our social welfare payments are motivated by a desire just to provide the absolute bare minimum.

In that situation it must not be taken that because the old age pension comes into effect at a certain period, it will be over-generous. We know of very recent cases of old persons living alone discovered in absolute destitution. You can remember the results of the Limerick survey. We would certainly plead with the Minister that this is a far more urgent matter than the amendment we called to his attention last night in regard to young persons. Indeed, if there were any choice in the matter, I would certainly exchange improvement in the case of the young person for improvement for the old person in relation to matters coming under this Bill. This is a really important issue. I really think the amendment should be accepted. The Bill will be excluding a very deserving section of the working population if it does not cover these people for whom we are pleading. I would ask the Minister again to consider all that has been said this morning by Deputies on all sides of the House on this question that he should consider pushing the age limit upwards

I should like to find out from the Minister if he is satisfied in any way that the majority of the employers are instituting pension schemes for their employees. The reason I ask that question is that my knowledge of the situation, as a trade union official, is that far too few schemes are in existence—that only a few are in existence. When we take that into consideration, and also the fact that a number of employers have given as an excuse for not instituting pension schemes the means test that is applied, we can clearly see the predicament in which the people we are talking about find themselves, the ones over 65 for whom no pension arrangements have been embodied in this Bill.

I can well understand that people can get heated and try to score off each other in debates here. That is understandable, and it is common practice. It has been said countless times that the people in this House exchange harsh words with each other, and then people outside wonder how we can still talk to one another. That is the way it should be. Heaven help us if we started to molest one another when we went outside the House.

I entreat the Minister to maintain the approach which he displayed last evening. We do not want to turn this matter into a political football. I appeal to the Minister not to be adamant about this. He has the power to make the arrangements and his colleagues have asked him to do so. If he does what we are asking him to do in the amendment, he will get the credit in the final analysis.

I want to ask the Minister to take notice of the fact that there are not too many industries which have pension schemes in operation for various reasons, some genuine and others not so genuine. I say we cannot leave these people outside the Bill. We cannot leave the majority of the people to operate like Micawber and wait for something to turn up. I believe the Minister ought to consider this very reasonable request.

There seems to be a certain amount of confusion in the Labour benches as to the precise purpose of this Bill. Certainly, as I see it, it is intended to give comparatively short-term payments to men or women who lose their employment owing to redundancy. That is quite different from the case of an employee who serves up to the age of 65 and whose services are then dispensed with because he is no longer fit for work.

There is a danger that we may try to extend this Redundancy Payments Bill into some form of Retirement Pensions Bill, which is a completely different issue. Some system of pensions is most desirable but it is difficult for any employer to make general arrangements for pensions for all employees, simply because the money is not so readily available in present trading conditions. If we were to accept this Labour Party amendment and delete "65 years" or accept Deputy Jones's amendment No. 9, I think we would be fooling ourselves to a certain extent. The amount of the redundancy payment would not bridge the gap between 65 years and 70 years. That is a completely separate issue.

It would help.

It might help, but I certainly would prefer to see it dealt with under a separate Bill. The impression was given from the Labour benches so far this morning that if we were to give redundancy payments up to the age of 70 years, we would be more or less covering this point. We would not. There would still be that gap. This Bill is intended mainly to make comparatively short-term payments to a man or a woman who has lost his or her employment through redundancy, and to tide him or her over the period until another job is obtained. This is not a long-term pension plan at all.

Yesterday we had from one of the Labour Deputies—I am not sure if it was Deputy Treacy—the emphasis on the dictum of last in, first out. That was in connection with sub-paragraph (b). It was contended that the people most vulnerable to redundancy were the youngsters because they were last in. Now the Labour Party are saying that the people most vulnerable to redundancy are the older people. They cannot have it both ways. I do not think there is the same danger of redundancy for the people in the 60-65 age bracket because the system of last in, first out, or to put it the other way first in, last out, is fairly well accepted generally and consequently anyone who has worked for a long period up to the age of 60 or 65 years does not face any great danger of dismissal through redundancy. There may be a danger of dismissal through unsuitability for continued work, but that is a different matter.

If we are going to deal with this Bill on the basis of redundancy, we must stick to that. If there are other problems, as in fact there are, we should deal with them under a separate Bill. We have to make some limit. There is something to be said for extending the age from 65 upwards but I do not think there is very much. I do not think there is great danger of redundancy at that age. If there is a danger of an employee being dispensed with by reason of age, that is not redundancy. That is something we have to deal with separately.

If I am right—and I hope the Minister will correct me if I am not—I think we are dealing with the short-term problem due to redundancy which may arise through a change in trading conditions in manufacturing industries and others. That is all we are doing. We are trying to give temporary relief to someone who is dispensed with because his job has disappeared. The Bill as it stands is very sound. If we were trying to provide for a general retirement pension scheme, we would have to do it under a different Bill altogether.

We seem to be making a great many repetitive speeches and it may not be really necessary to continue doing so. Deputies will appreciate that the financial calculations are based on the exclusions we made. Last night I made two concessions, one in relation to hours of work, from 25 to 21, and a second in relation to the lower age limit. If I were to concede the upper age limit, it would mean more outgoings from the fund. The calculations were made on the basis of certain exclusions. The exclusions are the really difficult part—someone mentioned the white collar worker and £1,200—and I tried to find some formula to bring them in. Naturally sympathy is with the older worker but I should like to warn the House that any changes I make in order to bring in people who are not in already will mean increased outgoings and those increased outgoings will mean a new calculation of the contributions to be made. Now that is something which would inevitably bring me back again to the House to ask the Dáil to change the contribution. Having said all that, I am prepared to examine this whole matter, if both Parties withdraw their amendments.

Deputy Jones had a proviso about an adequate pension scheme excluding a person from benefit. I do not think that could be administered.

The Minister will consider this and, if we are not satisfied, then we can reintroduce this on Report Stage.

I will consider it and, if the Deputy does not then agree, he can press his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 9 not moved.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In subsection (5), line 44, to delete "208" and substitute "104".

The requisite period under the Bill means that a man must have four years continuous service with an employer before he can come within the terms of the Bill. We ask that that four years be reduced to two years in order to bring within the scope of the Bill people who work in jobs which would exclude them from the Bill. We are thinking especially of workers in the building industry, dock workers and others. I appreciate there is a sub-committee working on this. There are many people who do not work continuously with the one employer and our argument is that the period of service with the one employer may, in fact, be lower than the period of service in other countries. The purpose of the amendment is to put our law into step as far as possible with the law in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the period is two years and we should like the period here to be two years also. We should not establish needless barriers from the point of view of conditions there and here. People who may be covered by the Bill but cannot be covered through no fault of their own because of the period of service being shorter, should also be brought within the scope of the Bill. We ask the Minister to accept our amendment. There seems to be no good reason why the position here should not be the same as that in Northern Ireland.

This was raised on the Second Stage and I said then that four years was, in my opinion, a reasonable time. I am of that opinion still. The principle I worked on was to ask myself: when does a man build up rights in his job, rights which could be regarded as the same really as property rights? In what period of time should a man be able to claim that he has, through his labours, contributed to a particular industry in such a way as to have established rights in that industry? Two years is, I think, much too short. Four years is reasonable. Anything over four years would be too long. Redundancy compensation is for loss of rights and, if one measures the building up of rights over a period, then I think four years is a reasonable period.

I could appreciate the Minister's point of view if he were referring to people working constantly in the same place, but I would ask him to take into consideration now the effect of his proposal on, for instance, workers in the catering industry. These workers are a very important part of our economy from the point of view of the tourist industry. These people move around from job to job. The Minister can easily verify that by getting in touch with the union.

The same situation obtains in the building industry and I could mention others. The Minister, I think, will readily appreciate the need for not keeping these people out. It is only recently we succeeded, after a number of years of negotiation, in bringing about the setting up of a joint committee to deal with conditions in order to give these workers some sort of rights in their respective jobs. If they are excluded, this legislation will be retrograde and not progressive. I urge the Minister to give further consideration to this matter. There is a great deal to be said for the Labour Party amendment.

The Minister said he had to strive to strike a balance in order to determine what contribution a man had made to the industry in which he was employed. Unfortunately this Bill does not cover an industry; it covers a particular employer. That is particularly true in the case of the building worker who may be employed in the industry for a long number of years but may never have served with the one employer for a period of four years. Irrespective of how much service he may have had, unless he has a period of four years service with a particular employer immediately preceding his becoming redundant, he will not qualify under the Minister's proposal.

We ask the Minister to accept our amendment. I have mentioned the building industry but there are many other trades and occupations which lend themselves to fairly short service with a particular employer, although a man may be following the same occupation all his working life. Deputy Mullen has mentioned the catering workers. There are a large number of categories which come under the description I have just given where people, although they have given a lifetime of service to a particular industry, would not qualify because the particular occupation they follow lends itself to frequent change of employer. We think that the two years stipulation would be far more realistic and fair in the circumstances.

I recognise that there are certain employments where a man is unlikely to build up years of employment with the one employer. The building trade is one and I suppose the catering industry is another. My approach is that in these types of employment where a man has not a chance of building up a four year period we should have special schemes. Negotiations have been going on between both sides of the building industry and it is possible that we should think of initiating similar negotiations with the catering industry. Deputy Mullen thought this should be so. I feel the only approach is that the individual cases for which it might be desirable to have special consideration given to a shorter period should not influence the whole Bill which will apply to all the workers covered by this Bill. I still think that for the person who can get ordinary employment, it is reasonable to expect that he should have spent four years in it before he can be regarded as having compensatable rights in it. I was in Norway recently and there a person must have ten years service with a firm before he is compensated on becoming redundant. I think four years is reasonable, with special schemes in special areas.

Bearing in mind what the Minister has said, is he in a position to indicate now the number of industries, including the building and catering trades, he would like to be let out of this and for which he is contemplating having something special done? Has his Department succeeded in spelling these out?

I would like to make it clear that I insist that everybody should be covered first and if they come along with special schemes, then they can have them, but I would not put people out of this awaiting special schemes.

I took it there would not be a great delay in waiting for something to be done for the ones that are left out.

I think they should be all covered first because it might be difficult to negotiate special schemes.

The Minister will have to face up eventually to the peculiarities affecting some industries and the mobility of labour, and I think it would be somewhat ironic if he finds himself in a position where he has four years in his Bill and employers' and workers' representatives are sitting down to discuss the problem as it affects a particular industry and finding that four years is not a practical proposition and that indeed two years is a more reasonable one. Where do we go from there? Do we come back then and change the Act? I feel this is wrong. I would also point out to the Minister that he can get an idea as to how to combat this problem if he has regard to what is happening at present in the building industry with regard to wet time. This problem is being taken care of as a result of negotiations between the builders' federation and the trade unions.

It is important that it should be emphasised that there are a considerable number of employments wherein the worker cannot and does not find continuity for four years and still will be found to have continuity in employment for a lifetime, by reason of the fact that he moves about. The catering workers are notorious for moving from one place to another. You will find people in the business all their lives, but they move from one place to another. It is the same in the building industry. That being so, it is vital that these people should not be tied to four years. If we accept this point that I am making, we cannot have it four years for some people and two years for others. Therefore, the obvious time to have is two years.

Most people will agree that there must be some qualifying period. I put it to the Minister that in the building industry, it is true to say that only a small proportion will even have two years continuity, but the proportion who would have four years continous work for the same employer in the building industry would be very small indeed. If you take even the large scale contract and give it to a building firm, say, the construction of dwellings, in most cases that contract will run for 18 months to two years, sometimes a little longer but hardly in any case would it take four years. When that contract comes to an end, the bulk of those workers would become redundant. One of the purposes of the Bill is to ease the immediate problem until people have a chance of getting employment elsewhere.

That surely is the essential part of the Bill.

In the building industry, this four years would mean that all workers except those directly employed by the State or local authorities, or employed on maintenance staffs, would not be able to qualify for anything under this Bill.

I do not wish to start contention regarding this matter but in many cases workers may be attracted to a new industry. Inducements may be offered and a glowing future promised by a firm to skilled workers to come into a new development but the new development may not last more than two, two and a half or three years. In that case these workers, whose skill has been called on to develop not just the industry but the economy generally, then have no rights under this Bill to redundancy payments.

I would ask the Minister to look at those aspects of the matter. I think this question of four years from the point of view of establishing rights in employment is far too long. In fact, in public service, a person usually went on the permanent staff after he had two years continuous service. After two years, he was considered for permanency. I am asking the Minister to look at this again and to consider the arguments put forward in support of the Labour Party amendments that this period be reduced from four years to two years as a qualification for coming within the scope of the scheme.

If one is to read this section in its fullest context, not only is the worker required to have four years continuous employment but it is written in that the four years continuous employment shall be with the same employer who dismissed him or laid him off or kept him on short time. It also excludes any period of employment with the employer before the employee attains the age of 18 years. I now feel that will be amended to 16 years by reason of discussions we had yesterday. This raises a very serious matter as to whether or not service with other employers will be taken into account at all. If it is true to say that the employment of the whole working life with various employers from time to time is not to be regarded, then I feel the workers will feel also that a very serious injustice is being done to them.

A man may have worked 20 or even 30 years with one employer and for one reason or another left or was dismissed. Then this man takes up employment with a new employer and at the expiration of, say, three years, is declared redundant. That man, although he would have given 40 years of active work, would not qualify for redundancy payment at all. I feel in the final analysis it would be extremely difficult for many workers to qualify under this section. Apart altogether from the number of years required to qualify, this important matter of the service rendered by a worker over his working life is very important. I appreciate that it might be taxing the fund too greatly to demand that his full record of service be taken into account. I respectfully submit to the Minister that he ought to have special regard to a worker who has been engaged in the same industry all his life and who was mobile enough to transfer when this was expected of him.

I feel that workers, in particular the skilled workers of the industrial type I have in mind, would expect that their length of service in that industry would be taken into account and they would feel deeply aggrieved if it were not. The Minister is anxious to create a situation which will facilitate the mobility of labour, the movement of labour from the depressed areas to the expanding areas or the developing areas, as we call them. There is contained in this Bill a provision for that purpose to assist them by way of some form of compensation for uprooting themselves and moving on to another area.

This is very desirable and very laudable and it is important in this context that the mobility of labour be recognised, especially in the trades and industries to which we have adverted. In the building industry, it is an exceptionally good job, especially in the rural areas of the country at large outside Dublin, which will last for 12 months. It is an exceptionally good contract and it is fortunate for the tradesmen and labourers involved if the contract will last two years. It is unusual in the extreme to find a building industry outside Dublin, except perhaps something like the Ballymun scheme, which will last for three or four years. I do not know of any such scheme which lasted that period.

We have a constant interchange of tradesmen, artisans and general workers in the building industry who are going from one job to another and are working with varying employers. It would be all right if the Minister were able to have special legislation in respect of those workers in the building industry comparable with what we have here in this Redundancy Payments Bill.

The same applies to catering workers, and indeed with the desire for greater efficiency in quite a number of industries, there is bound to be quite a shake-up of labour. We have at the present time the grouping of companies, the merging of various companies and the centralising of those companies in certain parts of the country. The State is facilitating that by way of the provision of industrial estates. We have, therefore, a situation in which the concentration of industry will be in certain specialised zones or areas and the workers will be expected to go there in the future. In all the circumstances, therefore, we are concerned that the period for qualification is pretty long, four years, and is bound to trip up quite a lot of workers who obviously can never qualify for redundancy payments on this basis.

The question of the period of employment with other employers is also vitally important. I stress again the necessity for giving recognition to the service of workers in their particular industry. If needs be, make it a charge on that industry to make a refund in respect of the administration of this Bill. If industries such as the clothing industry, the boot and shoe industry, the motor car assembly industry and the like want to retain their skilled workers and they are anxious naturally to keep them and to avail of their service in all parts of the country, it would be intrinsically wrong if the service of those highly skilled workers over their whole working life were to be ignored, and if redundancy, or eligibility for redundancy, were to be based on the period of service they had with their last employer, ignoring altogether the part which these workers played in the building up of industry generally and, indeed, the part they played in the building up of our economy as a whole.

Workers very jealously guard the contributions they make to their particular trade or industry. They are quick to repudiate anyone who would seek to belittle the service they render their employer, their industry or their country. This is particularly true of the manner in which they jealously guard their social welfare contributions which are reckoned on the basis of a stamp for every week of their working life. This otherwise excellent scheme will be rendered abortive if we do not show some liberality at this stage. If we stick rigidly to a four-year qualifying period, with no regard for service rendered with other employers over a man's working life, I submit that the real values and benefits inherent in this scheme will have been lost for quite a number of our workers.

Lastly, I should like to refer the Minister to the funding of this scheme and to advert again to the fact that it is by way of worker-employer contribution, with the State contributing nothing. In order to perfect this scheme and confer the greatest possible benefits on the workers concerned, we on this side of the House will support the Minister if he comes back here and says that he requires extra pennies per worker for the financing of this redundancy fund scheme. I do not think that we should destroy the effectiveness of the scheme on financial grounds, especially as it is on the basis of worker-employer contributions.

In view of the statement made here by my colleague that we are anxious to make this a perfect Bill, I should like to say that we have given something in the various sections and amendments of the Bill. I am dealing with the particular section now under discussion. I remember when the Industrial Relations Act was introduced in 1955, there were a number of Deputies from that side of the House a party to it. It is beyond human nature and beyond any Minister to cater for every individual section, notwithstanding, of course, that we in Fianna Fáil have always been concerned with the individual.

We have here the case of two categories of workers, the catering trade and the building trade. While the large building firms have brought a lot of continuity into their trade, in so far as they have introduced a pension scheme, we have not, as far as I know, any catering employer in Dublin who operates a pension scheme, but I am subject to correction on this.

There are a few individuals.

What I am asking the Minister is whether in relation to the two sections of workers—in the catering trade and in the building trade —it would be possible for him to look into this matter again and see whether he could allow service for the profession or trade over a period. We have the experience of other countries who have a ten-years period and the Minister has gone down to four years. If we find as a result of our experience that our requirements are not met, the legislation could be amended. There are a large number of workers in the catering and building trades who are gradually becoming permanent. While I agree with the Member who has just spoken that there are also a floating number of workers who will never be permanent, who just move from one job to another, and while I know that the Minister is most anxious to make this a perfect Bill, this legislation is a great social and human approach to the workers as a whole and a great tribute to the Minister. Perhaps he might look at it and see whether in the case of a man who has been working in a catering trade for a long time, his years of experience should be taken as four. The same would apply to a man working in the building trade. I do not know what this will involve; I am only trying to make a helpful suggestion and it is a matter which will have to be examined.

While the Minister has intimated his willingness to examine this further, there is a need more for groupings than individual stamps. There is the case of dockers, of a man who has worked there all his life being taken as working four years continuously as a stevedore. Would the Minister consider having a group stamp for the employer? You could take the labourer or building worker or hospital worker and there could be a group stamp, with the worker paying his contribution in the normal way. We could, therefore, ensure that if a man has not the four years service and is availed of by another employer in the same group, he would not lose his benefit under the scheme. In these groupings, the building group, the docker group and the catering workers, if the employers paid a group stamp, the worker could pay a worker's contribution in the ordinary way. We would have a separate payment for each of these categories and therefore a man would not be denied payment, and there would be the possibility of his serving a group, not an employer, for four consecutive years, and so be kept within the terms of the Bill. The whole trend in industry now is for groupings and I am sure the next ten years will see a tremendous strive forward in this set-up. I think it will give the Minister the solution he seeks. As one speaker has said, no matter what limit you lay down, there will always be somebody who will feel it should be reduced. That is only human, but we have got to ensure that no person is penalised because of the inability of the employer to give continuous employment.

If the Minister would consider—as he has intimated he will—this grouping of employers for dockers, building workers, hospital workers and catering workers, we will get around this. I am sure when the Bill has been in operation for some time we can have another look at this matter and see whether two or four years is the better. The position obtaining in the Scandinavian countries is most enlightening because we always look on those countries as being the last word in social services; yet one of them has a ten-year period. It may be influenced by the fact that they have full employment there but, even then, they have their problems, too.

Will the Minister concede this point about the two years? I realise he has some sub-committees working on an examination of certain categories of workers, to see how they can be brought in, but there is no getting away from the fact that our amendment seeks to bring in a number of people who would be excluded, if it is left at the four-year level. The kernel of the matter is whether the Minister considers this a constructive suggestion and will accept it or whether he does not at this time propose to accept our amendment. I am wondering about that; has the Minister any thoughts on it?

Before the Minister deals with this point, I wonder would it be pertinent at this stage to mention our amendment No. 11 which has an equal bearing on this problem. We are concerned in our amendment to delete all words after "employee" on line 46 and substitute therefor "before the date of dismissal",

Listening to the discussion, I have great sympathy with the points of view being put forward. I want to put this point in regard to the same subsections. Take the case of an employee who has given quite a number of years service with a particular firm: he may have 20 years service, but business is getting slack in that firm. A director or the owner of the business may feel that man was a good worker and may know somebody else in the business who may take on that employee at that stage. The employee changes from one employer to another at that time. The point arises immediately—if this section remains as at present drafted—if this employee, say, after three and a half years with the second firm loses his employment, under the terms of this subsection, he would be debarred from any redundancy payment. This is very much in line with the point already made by the Labour Party and Deputy Moore. This is applicable, as Deputy Treacy has said, to quite a number of firms in country areas, for instance, painting firms or contractors, the building trade, as he mentioned, garages, cleansing firms of various kinds, hospitals, or even agricultural contracting. In all those cases, if business becomes slack, one employer may be friendly with another and, knowing that his friend is more affluent in business at that time, may be able to get him to take on a particular employee of his. This will create the problem— if we leave the subsection as at present drafted; and whether we say four years or two years at this stage—that he will be cut out because of the change of employment. Would not it be more reasonable, as Deputy Moore has said, if you have contributions being made to a redundancy fund, which is common, that an employee at that particular stage would benefit therefrom if he has been employed for a period, irrespective of the employer? This is important and certainly very important in country areas where there may not be the same continuity of employment with one employer. When employers contribute to a redundancy fund, the workers should get the benefit of it, and such a fund should operate so as not to rule out a person because of a technicality, such as a change of employer at that stage and because he has not been in continuous employment with the first employer who dismissed him.

In regard to this amendment, we would want to establish what is meant by continuous employment. I gather Deputy Jones is advocating that accumulated employment—employment here, there and everywhere—should be regarded as continuous employment. Possibly this would meet the situation but I am wondering if the Minister has a view as to what is meant by continuity of employment. How would he propose to deal with the situation of a clerical worker, a building worker, a docker who would have, perhaps, a break of a week, a fortnight, three weeks or a month between jobs? Does it mean that such people cannot be regarded as having been continuously employed at their trade or particular category of employment? This is the kernel of the situation. As has already been said, down in the docks you have a situation prevailing where you have stevedores operating, employing dockers, for work on one ship but the same stevedore need not necessarily employ the same dockers when that ship is finished. This can happen in deep sea and cross-channel work and I am satisfied that it is not the intention of the Minister to cut off these people because, when this Bill becomes law, they will be required to contribute to the fund. And, surely if they are contributing to the fund, they are entitled to receive benefit? As Deputy Jones said, they should not be debarred because of a technicality.

It is only on occasions such as this, when we have an opportunity of talking and exchanging viewpoints, that we find flaws. I would urge the Minister to attach credence to what is being submitted and admit this is something which has got to be looked at again. Provision will have to be made for the workers we are talking about now. I hold that it is not sufficient to leave it to the outcome of talks, which may be instituted between several employers representing certain industries, on the one hand, and the trade union, on the other, representing the workers in that industry. I have had experience of that kind of thing and I say it would not work out.

In another industry, it took more than two and a half years to secure minimum wages and conditions and I should hate to think that it will take two and a half years to bring these people within the ambit of the Act. If a survey is made of this problem, it will be found that the number of workers who will be excluded from this legislation will run into thousands —excluded because of a technicality but who will be required to pay into a fund from which they will never benefit. That is a most extraordinary situation and I do not believe it represents the intentions of the Minister. I suggest it is a point to which sufficient consideration was not given in the drafting of the measure.

I do not decry civil servants but if a civil servant came within the ambit of the Bill, what would happen? I speak of a civil servant who spent some months or perhaps a couple of years working in the Department of Justice and was then transferred to the Department of Industry and Commerce. He would be out. That is the type of case we have to consider. In that case there would be continuity of employment but that civil servant would be out. In local authority employment, the same thing could happen. These are the cases we must consider and from which we must take example. Therefore I urge the Minister to have another look at it, if only in the interests of his own Party.

This is not good legislation; it is not well conceived. It is imperative that we should highlight the importance of the matters for which we are legislating here. It may be said we on these benches have been spending a lot of time debating the various sections but when this becomes law and if we from these benches complain about the effects of the legislation, people from other Parties may ask why we did not do something about it at the time. That is why we are being so meticulous in helping the Minister to bring in as good a Bill as possible.

I understand what Deputy Jones is getting at but this whole matter boils down to the definition of employer. Our amendment is simple in its attempt to cover the point Deputy Mullen spoke about. We do not wish to have to continue to ring the changes on this matter during the whole afternoon. Therefore I ask if the Minister looked into his heart this morning and decided to concede the amendment and embody it in the Bill.

I could not accept it in the main Act. I accept there are areas of employment which will not be covered satisfactorily by this scheme but the main area will be covered and I think the four-year qualifying period is suitable. The only case that has been well made is that for special schemes. These must be achieved by negotiation between employer and trade union interests. It may not be easy to get satisfactory special schemes and then we shall have to think of what to do; but the case made today has been for special schemes for special classes of employees. If an employee is so mobile, two years will not be much better to him than four years as a qualifying period.

The amendment tabled by Deputy Jones goes against the principle on which the whole Bill is based. It is that a man builds up a right against his employer by his contributions while working in that firm; and one can hardly expect another employer to compensate that worker in the form of a lump sum for contributions made to a former or other employer. If a man has built up rights against an employer and leaves before claiming those rights, one can hardly expect another employer to compensate the workman for a right he had built up with the former employer.

That is all right in regard to the lump sum but what about payments from the redundancy fund? Will the workman not get anything from the fund to which contributions were made for him, a fund administered under the auspices of the Minister for Labour?

We are confusing unemployment benefit with redundancy payment. The basic thing behind redundancy is that a man has rights against his employer and he is compensated for those rights when he loses them.

I should not like to think it is a question of principle. I can see the Minister's point in regard to the lump sum but the point I am making is that the worker's and the employer's contributions have helped to create a redundancy fund; yet if the worker loses his job, he will have to fall back on ordinary unemployment benefit. That man might have been contributing to the redundancy fund during the previous 20 years but if he changes employment after three and a half years or two years or any such length of time, he will have to fall back completely and solely on unemployment benefit. In such circumstances, he will not gain anything from the redundancy fund one way or another.

That is a marginal case. If a man spends 20 years in employment and because of slackness in that employment has to go, then at that time he is entitled to redundancy compensation.

The section refers to an employer who by reason of redundancy laid off a worker or kept him on short time.

The Deputy says this would be because of slackness of work. The employer could declare the person redundant.

The case I am making is in respect of an employer who had not declared the worker redundant but had secured for him alternative employment.

That is a very peripheral case. It is a case where a man is redundant after a long period of years and the employer does not declare him redundant but instead gets him other employment. In such a situation the employer would be liable to pay that man redundancy payment.

I want clarification of the situation as it is. The section says that "requisite period" means a period of 208 weeks continuous employment.

The Deputy is suggesting an example of a man who has worked for 20 years and who then goes to another employer because of slackness of business. That would be a redundancy and the first employer would have to compensate him——

So long as that is on record——

That would be anybody's interpretation.

——so that later it will not be held the section was pinning it down.

Mindful of all the Minister has said on the point of separate compensation and having regard to what we have submitted, would he reconsider his attitude to our amendment, take it away, mull over it and do what he can in regard to the points we have made because there is no doubt that the initiation of talks will not take care of the situation?

There is another reason why the four years should be reduced to two, that is that we have to take care of future industries which we hope to see coming here. We are not unmindful of our experience of a number of new industries in this country and of the manner in which they folded up. Although it is nice to urge our people to have faith in them and to get into them, and I certainly welcome all types of industry coming in, once they provide employment, we must take lessons from our past and present experience, which is another good reason why the four years should be reduced to two. If we have a situation in which we continue to bring people in here to set up industry and some of our people even transfer from their present employment to go into what is considered a sounder type of employment, we must add to their confidence by saying: "Now you are all right."

Four years is a long time: it is far too long. Some industries have been in and out of the country in a few months. We are being quite reasonable in asking for two years. That is another argument in favour of the reduction of four years to two years—not forgetting another important one, that we yearn to see the day when this nation will be united. A factor which very often holds people in the Six Counties back from joining hands with us is our existing social welfare benefits and what have you. Let us not widen the gap that exists there already. In the Six Counties, the period is two years. We aspire to come together with them one day soon, I hope. We should be breaking down barriers.

Before we passed on from this amendment, I was hoping to prevail on the Minister to elaborate and to clarify this whole matter in respect of continuous employment. This section lays down that the worker must have four years employment with the employer who dismissed him, without any regard whatsoever to previous employment. This section will have the most serious repercussions and will leave outside the scope of this Bill some thousands of workers.

We have already referred to industries where there is chequered and insecure employment of a very temporary nature. In the building trade, in the docks, in the catering trade; tradesmen generally—carpenters, masons, plumbers, painters, and so on: by their very nature they are journeymen and mobile. The same can be said of mechanics. It will be extremely difficult to fit these people in under this Bill because of the difficulty of maintaining that meagre security of tenure for four years. They will still be expected to contribute for four years but, because they could not possibly have had four years' service with the same employer, they will never draw benefits.

I support very enthusiastically an expression by Deputy Moore when he put it to the Minister that it ought to be within the competence of the Minister's Department to provide a redundancy stamp on a trade group or industrial basis whereby the full record of service of a worker is taken into account and his contribution to the industry, trade or group as a whole is fairly reckoned. If we do not do this, we are being very unfair indeed.

I sincerely hope, therefore, a system will speedily be evolved under which full recognition will be given for service rendered over the whole working life of the worker in his appropriate trade, group or industry. It is fair to say that when workers set out in life in accordance with their bent, they invariably stick to that trade or industry. If a young boy sets out in the catering industry, he usually stays in it. He may work in different places and have a varying number of employers, but he sticks with his trade. The same applies to dockers and to building workers. If one sets out in life carrying a hod, despite the difficulties of the job, one sticks with it: one follows the job all over this country, and to Britain and beyond. The same applies to the docker. Once a docker always a docker. Rarely do they change.

In respect of industry proper, be it the motor car assembly industry, the clothing industry, the textile industry, the footwear industry, again we see that once people enter such industry, they normally stay with it. Therefore, in asking that continuity of service be reckoned, we are asking only that which is right, proper and moral. We are really asking that regard be had to strict justice in this matter. To stick rigidly by four years to qualify, with no regard whatsoever to previous employment, is a denial of strict justice to the workers concerned. It is an insult to them. We are ignoring the vast contribution they made over their working life to their particular industry.

In making a case for the reduction of the four year period to two years, we have taken our stand on the basis of industry in this country. We have taken our stand on what applies in the British Redundancy Payments Acts and we have taken our stand on what applies to our fellow-workers across the Border in North-East Ulster. We are moving towards freer trade. The desirability is that there should be conformity in respect of our social, legal and economic codes. A new code appertaining to redundancy should have regard to the codes prevailing in EEC countries and in our neighbouring country of Great Britain with whom we are now tied up in a Free Trade Agreement. We are intrinsically and, I feel, irrevocably bound up with the economy in these islands. It is rather a pity that the Minister would not concede that which applies to workers in Britain and in Northern Ireland. I hope he will see the sense of it.

I hope the Minister will recognise the fact, as Deputy Mullen pointed out, that industries have been established here at great expense to the State and the taxpayer and overnight they have folded up, without even lasting the two-year period. The workers were left idle and bewildered without knowing what happened. When they came back after holidays, they found the doors closed and that the foreign enterpreneurs had flown and no one could tell them what went wrong. These people are not covered by this Bill because as yet there is no hope of retrospection and also because a four-year period is stipulated instead of two years, as the Labour Party desire. Those of us who are members of local authorities know that in regard to the Superannuation Act in relation to pensions for county council road workers and the like, the law stipulates that they shall be deemed to be members of the superannuation fund and will be brought into that pension scheme if they qualify for two years; if they have been in continuous employment for 200 days each year, they are automatically brought in under the scheme.

The Minister is being inconsistent in seeking a four-year period. My concern is to elicit further information from the Minister and to allay the grave anxiety which we in the Labour Party feel in regard to the fact that there is no recognition for employment with previous employers. The only employment reckoned is employment with the employer who dismisses the worker concerned. If this is to be the case, we will be doing a very grave injustice to our working class people. If the Minister feels that this cannot be done under this particular scheme, I would ask him to get down quickly to providing us with the kind of scheme which we desire, on an industrial or trade group basis, whereby——

The Deputy is travelling a bit from the amendment.

I am sorry if I am, but I am doing so because the whole question of continuous employment is bound up with this section. I am asking the Minister if he would be kind enough to elaborate on the matter and tell us how we can secure recognition of service for people in their respective trade groups and industries, and if he cannot do it in this measure, to tell us how it can be done so that there could be an interchange of workers within the same industry, be it building, catering or printing.

The Deputy could raise that on the section but surely not on the amendment.

He has made three Second Reading speeches on every amendment.

It is as well to clear this up.

We have an amendment before us which is specific.

The Minister is not the Ceann Comhairle.

I have to listen to the Deputy.

We would be very grateful if the worker could get recognition for service in the various trades——

The Deputy is persisting. I must ask him to confine himself to the amendment before the House.

Very well. We are asking that four years be deleted and two years inserted. We have made a sufficiently strong and compelling case for that and the Minister should not make up his mind now but think over it and come back on the next Stage with an improvement on the present unsatisfactory provision.

I still feel that there is a lack of appreciation by Deputy Treacy and other members of the Labour Party in regard to what this Bill intends doing. It is not a pensions Bill; it is not a Bill which is going to give long-term compensation for loss of employment. It is an entirely separate measure. If we are going to reduce this four-year period to two years, we are going to do precisely what we are trying to avoid. We do not want to encourage redundancy, we are trying to discourage it. If we reduce the four-year period to two years, we would be endangering security of employment rather than the reverse. If an employer felt he could more easily declare an employee redundant after two years he might be tempted to do so. It would be far better to stick to the four years. Apart from that, the amount of contribution which any man would have made in two years will be slight enough. It is only when you get the four-year service that an employee will really have built up a claim for himself.

I appreciate that as we discuss the section as a whole, we will be able to widen this discussion still more but an unnecessary amount of delay is being caused by fighting for this amendment. After all, the redundancy payment is going to be small enough; it will only be calculated on one-half of the normal week's pay and one weekly payment in respect of each year's service. If we are to be bound to a period of two years, as the Labour Party suggest, it would mean the maximum payment which a redundant worker would then receive would be two weekly payments based on one-half of a normal week's pay, that is, a total payment of one week's pay. I know that that is better than a kick in the teeth but it certainly is not an ample endowment for that employee for any period. It is only when the period of employment goes over four years that this payment would be really of any help to anybody. It is reasonable that it should be so. It is only when a man has stuck with an employer and satisfied him over a reasonable period that he has built up a right for himself in that employment. If we go any further than we propose to go, we will be widening this Bill into a general social welfare measure.

I admit there are many problems still unresolved, even after we pass this Bill, but that means we have got to give further consideration to them in a different context. I would support the Minister very strongly in sticking to his original proposal of 208 weeks and resisting 104. After 104 weeks— two years—many men and women in a particular employment are only just beginning to warm up to the job and getting really well qualified. I would hope that the Labour Party would remember the amounts involved for each individual. The amount involved over the entire country could be very large but for each individual the amount is very small indeed.

Then agree to the two years.

No, because the overall amount could make a serious impact on the solvency of the fund and on the rate of contribution, both by employers and employees. Above all, it would make it more likely that employees would be declared redundant. That is something we should try to avoid. We should try to give no excuse to people to declare their employees redundant. It is much more in the interest of employees that we should try to retain this period of four years. The fact that in Northern Ireland they may have gone on to two years and in the United Kingdom generally is a matter of some interest, but because they have done it does not mean that it is wise. We have to remember that, as the Minister said, in Norway they have a very much higher period of entitlement. In our context it would be vastly too high. We could not make a case for that at the moment. We have a fair average here, a period of years which to me appears to be reasonable and one which does not expose employees to a greater danger than that in which they already stand of being declared redundant. I would support the Minister on this and oppose very strongly the Labour Party amendment to reduce the period from 208 weeks to 104 weeks.

Deputy Booth's knowledge of the human make-up of employers is very touching. This debate seems to be taking a circular movement and to rescue it from that, I would again ask the Minister, since what Deputy Booth thinks about the matter here this morning is a thing of no account, if he wishes to include our amendment, the case for which has been amply made this morning. I would ask him if he intends to accept it and what his attitude is. We have followed every aspect of this matter to the utmost. I do not know if there is any further point to be gained by extending this discussion, especially when we realise that the Minister has power to accept or reject. We are back to the moment of truth: does the Minister accept our amendment?

I have already said no. I cannot accept what the Deputy said about Deputy Booth's contribution being of no account. He is absolutely clear in his mind about what a redundancy scheme is. The Labour Party do not seem to have any clear ideas on the matter. Indeed, when it came to Deputy Treacy, there was total confusion. I think Deputy Treacy has the impression that if I accepted this two-year figure, taken from the air by the Labour Party, somebody would be on cake and ale for the rest of his days.

I am not so worried about this figure of 204 weeks. I am more concerned about continuous employment. Would you elaborate on that?

It does not appear to be relevant.

The benefit that would come after two years is just one week's wages in the lump and perhaps two weeks' benefit. These would be young people starting off work. For that reason we break into a principle enshrined in the Bill that a period of time must establish a man's right against his employer in that employment. We have confused the idea of a redundancy scheme with the idea of a pension scheme. What the Deputies are thinking of is improved unemployment benefits. In many instances the two years would be no better than four years for the people concerned. They will not stay long enough in the one employment to gain under the Labour Party amendment, any more than they would under the Bill as it stands.

Then why will you not accept it?

A certain number of workers in the area will have the free choice to stay in employment with the same employer and build up rights with that employer, but for others, where mobility is in the nature of things, a special scheme is the answer and not the shortening of the period.

I came to the conclusion that four years was a reasonable time. This was after listening to all the Parties concerned. We had extremes, with much longer periods and much shorter periods. Not alone does this represent a reasonable time, but it represents some place in between the desires of all the people concerned on both sides of industry.

The idea that service in an industry should establish a man's right to compensation from that industry would be difficult to administer. When could it be said: "This man is redundant to the whole industry"? An employer might say he no longer had a place for a man, but if it is on an industry basis, it would have to be clear that the industry could no longer employ that man. It would be very difficult to say when that would be so. Most people concerned with this would be youngsters. To stress how strongly I feel that it should be four years, I would be prepared to go back to last night's discussion when I held that the age for redundancy payments should be 22. I would be prepared to go back and have everyone from 16 years of age covered by the Bill and allow them to qualify for benefit after four years service rather than accept the amendment. This amendment, as the Fine Gael amendment, does away with the principle enshrined in the Bill which I want to keep, that is, a four years qualifying period for benefit.

The Minister said here this morning there was a considerable numbers of workers who needed special consideration. He said it was desirable that a special scheme be formulated for these workers Surely the Minister must realise that under the terms as suggested by him these people to all intents and purposes do not come under this scheme? The nature of their work will make it impossible for many of them ever to qualify. The Minister said they could stay on with one employer for the four years in order to qualify. That is just not possible and I do not think the Minister is being serious when he suggests it. At this stage he is a very knowledgeable man about the working conditions of many people in this country. He realises that, while they will be paying into this scheme, because of the nature of their employment, they will not be able to stay with one employer for four years.

I have no objection to the Minister's suggestion that it might be desirable to have special schemes for these people but the Minister realises it will be some considerable time before this can be brought about. As he said himself, even in the initial stages of looking into the possibility of such a scheme, many difficulties have presented themselves. In effect, people would be paying into this scheme without qualifying for its benefits because of the conditions in the particular occupation they follow. I would suggest that in fairness and in justice the Minister should accept our amendment and make it possible for people with a legitimate reason for not being able to qualify to benefit.

In discussions when preparing these special schemes, the idea was put forward that for areas not covered by this Bill special schemes should be brought in and that the workers concerned should be excluded from this Bill. However, it was decided —and I think the Congress of Trade Unions were very much for this—to have them included rather than excluded because their inclusion would bring pressure——

We agree with their inclusion but we want their inclusion with a possibility of qualifying.

As a result of the various points that have been made here this morning by the Minister and Deputies, I do not believe the two years would cover the category the Labour Party are trying to cover in the amendment. None of the workers have a guarantee that they will be even two years in the catering trade or in the building trade. Therefore, the Labour Party would be very wise to consider the suggestion by the Minister that that category be covered separately. Deputy Moore mentioned dock labourers and dockers as a whole. I believe that a special scheme to deal with such workers would be more beneficial than laying down a period of years, be it two years or four years, because they would not be covered even by the two-year period. We shall still have to do something for them over and above.

To some extent the House is possibly misled by the approach on this matter. We agree with the Minister there is a case, possibly, for separate treatment for the workers in certain industries where there is a continuing mobility. However, with all due respect to the Minister, I do not think he has dealt with the problem arising, and which may arise more in the future, in regard to the development of industry in various areas, the problem of people going into an industry which continues for two or three years and then, for some reason or another, ceases.

As I said earlier today, it is not my function or purpose to lay blame on this shoulder or that shoulder. I am concerned about the effect on workers of the failure of an industry or of diminished economic activity in an industry which results in a section of the workers being laid off. Under these provisions, no such worker could get a penny redundancy compensation unless he has been employed for a period of four years. There have been cases where industries have started, where workers have been induced to leave other employment and then have found after a short period the work was no longer available to them. We realise that this Redundancy Payments Bill does not purport to provide longterm pensions. We are endeavouring, in this amendment, to improve the Bill. We might in the course of argument introduce broader issues, but we are primarily concerned in this amendment to introduce adequate safeguards for workers who may be declared redundant.

The Minister has said—and I was somewhat surprised to hear him say it—that the worker should be expected to have a number of years' service in employment before he would have any claim on that employment. The worker, from the day he enters that employment has a claim for consideration. The day he enters he starts to contribute to the success of the enterprise. One of the things we have under consideration in this matter and which was referred to in the Second Reading debate is the position of the worker with two or three years' service who is laid off as redundant, the immediate impact on the economy of the worker and his family. It is surely necessary that in the immediate week or weeks following such redundancy, the worker's income should be maintained at a high level.

I agree with what Deputy Booth says, that the Bill provides that if a worker has a few years' service in employment, he would be entitled to redundancy payment only for a relatively short period, depending on the number of years. However, if a worker has two or three years' service in industry, why should he be denied any benefit whatsoever from this Redundancy Bill? I would ask the Minister to look at this point. It applies not only to workers in the building and catering industries but also to workers in any other industry. It can apply, in particular, to workers in industries which are newly established. Surely the Minister is concerned with the mobility of manpower, and so on, and should not insist on retaining this four years which would convey to anybody that employers may desire to attract to the industry, that if things go wrong, these workers will go out and will not even have redundancy payments even for a week or two after economic adversity hits the firm.

The workers' immediate problem, when declared redundant after two or three years' service, is the problem of the week after becoming redundant when they have no income and may have to rely solely on social welfare benefits. It is important—and this is the Minister's intention in the Bill— that the payment should be an interim payment, pending the worker obtaining employment. Consequently, it should not be limited as in this section and the Labour Party amendment to reduce the period is well based. I again ask the Minister to consider the case for it.

I am a little confused in connection with these amendments. I take it we are discussing amendment No. 10. Deputy Treacy seemed to indicate that he was not very much concerned whether the number should be 104 or 208.

I was more concerned about other aspects.


There should be no effort to confuse unemployment with redundancy. This Bill does not anticipate redundancy. The period is important as in the case of all benefits, but what must be borne in mind is that the vast amount of progressive legislation enacted down the years by Fianna Fáil has been amended from time to time as Ministers concerned have thought fit. If the present Minister feels an injustice is being done to any section of workers, he will be only too happy to amend the law in the light of experience gained. Some line must be laid down, but I can quite see the anxiety of some members of the Labour Party when progressive legislation of this type is going through, to sit and heckle the people who are really interested in the workers and trying to implement legislation to confer benefits on them. That is one reason why this Bill is before the House.

It was dragged out of you.

We want the benefits of the Bill to be available as soon as possible.

That is the preamble; the Deputy might now come to the amendment.

This is a question of 104 or 208 weeks. The line suggested by the Minister is reasonable and while a lesser figure would possibly find agreement in the Labour Party, if the Minister suggested 416, they would probably seek 208 and be satisfied. While I do not quarrel with their effort to disagree with progressive legislation on some sections in order to convey to the workers that they are the people interested in the workers' problems and rights, nevertheless the legislation gives certain rights and the figure of 208 weeks is the one that is important at the moment. I do not think they are really serious about this question of the period. I hope that a year will not elapse before the Bill is implemented, but if we are to have a number of confusing speeches by the Labour Party, perhaps four years will elapse. We want the workers to get the benefit of the Bill as soon as possible.

Approximately two hours ago the Minister said he was not willing to give way on this amendment. Subsequent discussion brought out all the relevant points and the Minister has indicated that special schemes might be considered. The matter has now been amply ventilated but there is one flaw in all the ventilation, that is, that I have a suspicion we are not bringing the Minister with us. I suggest that we might now come back to the first point, the most important one, the Minister's disposition towards this amendment. Through the Chair, I ask him does he now feel he can accept the amendment?

Then let the question be put.

Question put: "That the figure proposed to be deleted stand part of the Bill".
The Committee divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 33.

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brady, Philip.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Clohessy, Patrick.
  • Colley, George.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Don.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fahey, John.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Dublin South-Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, Hugh.
  • Gibbons, James M.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, James J.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Connor, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Hogan, O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Lyons, Michael D.
  • McAuliffe, Patrick.
  • Mullen, Michael.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dunne, Seán.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J.
  • (Cavan).
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Carty and Geoghegan; Níl, Deputies Cluskey and M. O'Leary.
Question declared carried.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 7, line 46, to delete all words after "employee" and substitute "before the date of dismissal".

When the previous amendment to subsection (5) of section 7 was being discussed I put the case to the Minister in regard to this amendment. The Minister intervened at that stage to say he felt that the person would have a right against the previous employer. I would be quite satisfied if the Minister could tell me if there is anything in this legislation which would ensure that right, or if the Minister would indicate that he was prepared between now and the next Stage to cover the assurance which he personally has given in regard to this matter. If that could be done, or if there is anything in any section which would cover these circumstances, I would be quite happy. What I feel is that when a piece of legislation is finished with, the case of a person has to rest on a section of the legislation according to the interpretation of the legislation before any board or tribunal. Can the Minister assure me that there is something in this Bill—I cannot find it—that will guarantee the rights of a person who is 20 years in employment and because of slackness of business has to go into employment with a second person?

If a person is long enough in employment to establish rights and if that employer lets him go because of slackness of business, at that point of time he has a claim against the man with whom he has established rights. When he goes to another employment, having being declared redundant and having been compensated, he has to re-establish his rights with the new employer by working for a four-year period.

I can see that point, but the employer may know that this is a good workman and he has to give notice of redundancy. If he is declared redundant, the workman must give notice that he will claim redundancy at that stage.

No. Both processes do not have to take place. If the employer declares him redundant and gives him a certificate of redundancy, he has a claim. He can go to another employment if he can get it. In the example the Deputy gave, the first employer would have declared him redundant and he would get compensation for the rights he had established with that employer. He could then go to another employer and start again to create rights for himself by working for four years.

Even if similar employment is obtained through the good offices of the prior employer, if he wants to cover himself, he is under an obligation to notify that employer that he will be claiming redundancy. Is that the case?

I do not think he would have to make a claim.

A person may find himself induced to take up employment.

There is a limiting period of 30 weeks, I think, in another part of the Bill. I see the point the Deputy is making. It might be a person who was transferred from employment and was not aware of the right to claim redundancy. That continues for a period of 30 weeks. If he died, the right of a relative to claim would survive for about 12 months. If he becomes aware of his right after leaving the employment, he can still claim within the specified period.

What happens if he goes to work for a relative of the employer?

That would not affect the position unless the relative inherited the place of business—if the employer died and the place of business went to a relative.

It could be an undertaking business belonging to brothers in different parts of the city. One brother might decide to declare a man redundant after three years and 11 months service. He might say: "Go down to my brother and he will give you a job." No time would elapse and he would be at work in the other place the next morning.

In that case continuity of employment would arise. If the business were associated, continuity would be maintained.

Is there a section in the Bill which protects the right of an individual in the case I have mentioned?

There is a section which allows a man to go back and claim after so many weeks when he discovers he should have got compensation. The period is longer in a case where the man dies and the claim has to be made by his executors or relations. They can claim within a year if they discover he had a right to redundancy payment and did not get it. He himself, surviving, can make a claim within 30 weeks. It does not mean indefinitely.

Does it mean that a worker with, say, three years employment does not now qualify for redundancy? Can he claim against a person with whom he previously had 20 years employment?

Not after three years, no.

Therefore, if he has three years employment, he gets nothing?

On leaving his first employment, he should have got his compensation, if he was declared redundant by his first employer. If he leaves employment and goes to other employment, he foregoes continuity and has to re-establish his rights.

If, after 20 years, a person goes to other employment, he ought, on leaving his first employment, to claim redundancy payment.

There are areas in which an employee would want to know his rights and be conscious of them. I shall have to consider in what way we will communicate to workers what their rights are. A man, if he were not a member of a union and not conversant with the situation, could miss an occasion for claiming his rights.

Could all this not be published in a comprehensive form? Surely the obvious thing to do is to lay a condition on the employer to post up the regulations, with emphasis on workers' entitlements. That has to be done now in connection with certain Acts governing employment.

Some satisfactory method of advising the worker of his rights will have to be devised.

The Minister will undertake to have another look at this to see what he can do to protect the worker?

The only way in which to protect the worker is to have him conscious of his rights. I will do something.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 12 not moved.
Section 7 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 8, lines 16 and 17, to delete "the period of four weeks or thirteen weeks referred to in section 12 (2)" and substitute "the period of four weeks first referred to in section 12 (2) or the period of thirteen weeks referred to in that section".

This is a drafting amendment. In subsection (2) of section 12, there are two references to a period of four weeks or 13 weeks and this amendment is necessary to make it clear that it is the first of the two four-week periods that is referred to in subsection (2) of this section.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 9 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 10, line 21, after "unless" to insert "within a period of three months from the date upon which he was laid off or put on short-time by his employer, or such longer period as the employer may agree to in writing or the Board may, having regard to all the circumstances, allow".

The purpose of tabling this amendment is to indicate a fear we have in regard to the limitation on a claim period. There have been cases under the Workmen's Compensation Acts and, in these cases, the workers are limited to making a claim within a period of one year. This has often led to vexation because ordinary individuals have a right to make a claim up to a period of three years. We want to ensure that there will be no limitation or that a reasonable period will be allowed.

Strangely enough, this would have the opposite effect to that which the Deputy desires because, if we accept this amendment, it will impose on an employee the obligation to give notice of intention to claim within three months from the start of the period of lay-off and, if he does not do that, he will forfeit his right to payment. This would give a protection to the employer who would lay-off a worker and fail to terminate that lay-off either by dismissing the worker or by re-employing him. Under the provisions of section 12, the right of the employee to claim redundancy payment in respect of a period of lay-off or short time remains open as long as that lay-off or short time continues. When the lay-off or short time ceases, the right to claim redundancy payment is not retained indefinitely. Notice of intention to claim must be given within four weeks from the date on which the lay-off or short time ceases. I understand what the Deputy wants. He wants to time it from the beginning of the lay-off, That would give protection to the employer. The Deputy's intention is to protect the employee.

It is with the employee I I am concerned.

The Bill, as it stands, is fair to the employee.

Instead of one month from the end of the lay-off period, would the Minister consider making it three months?

One has to balance it out. The employee is limited by having to finish his employment within a month. There could be a counter-notice by the employer. A dispute could arise and that could go on for longer than the four weeks. It is a case of trying to find what is fair.

I appreciate the Minisster's concern to ensure that people get their entitlements and that people know their entitlements. Appreciating that, it is obvious we should give them as long as possible because, when this Bill becomes law, it will be quite some time before people realise what they should or should not do. It would be a sad thing if some were debarred from getting anything because they did not know their rights.

There is not a great deal in it really. As the sanction stands, the employee will have two months after the short time. If a man is laid off for four weeks running or if he has an aggregate of six weeks within a period of 13 weeks—lay-off or short time does not matter—then he is entitled to give notice that he will claim and he is entitled to give that notice four weeks after the whole thing has stopped.

Provided he knows.

He will have to be informed. When a worker gives notice, he then has another four weeks to give notice that he is going to finish his employment. There is notice to claim and notice to cease employment.

The Minister said he will have another look at it.

I shall have another look at it, because as it stands, the amendment would have a completely different effect from what Deputy Jones obviously wanted and I have not considered what Deputy Jones said in the context of the rest of the Bill and the counter notice. I shall consider it on Report Stage.

All right.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 10, line 27, after "unless" to insert the following: ", within a period of one month from the date of that notice, or, where the matter has been referred to the Appeals Tribunal, within one month from the date of notification to the employee of the Tribunal's decision,".

I must explain this. Subsection (2) of section 12 provides that where a worker gives notice of intention to claim a redundancy payment because of lay-off or short time working he will not be entitled to that payment until by the service of another notice —due notice— he terminates the contract of employment. The section prescribes a time limit in which to serve the notice of intention to claim and it does not prescribe—even though I mentioned a figure—a time limit in which to serve the notice of termination of contract of employment in pursuance of the notice of intention to claim. This was an omission and I think it should be rectified because it would be unfair to employers if it were left completely in the air indefinitely as to when a man would say: "I am redundant". This amendment would repair the omission.

The time limit which I have also mentioned but which has not been passed by the House is one month from the date of the notice of intention to claim but if there is a redundancy payment being disputed and the subject is being sent to the Appeals Board, the time limit which would be proposed would be one month from the date of the decision of the Appeals Board and I think this is reasonable. That is the two months I mentioned—the month's notice first of all that he will claim and then a month's notice to cease employment. It is near enough to what Deputy Jones wanted.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 12, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

It is conditional that where a worker claims redundancy payments he must have been either dismissed by the employer on grounds of shortage of work or must have been kept on short time for four or more consecutive weeks of which the last before the service of the notice ended on the date of service thereof or ended not more than four weeks before that date, or that he has been laid off or kept on short time for a series of six or more weeks of which not more than three were consecutive within a period of thirteen weeks, where the last week of the series before the service of the notice ended on the date of service thereof or ended not more than four weeks before that date.

Clearly, the worker is very much restricted in declaring himself redundant even though he may have experienced very bad time. He may have been on short time over a very long, protracted period and because he was not laid off for four or more consecutive weeks, he obviously cannot claim redundancy payments. He cannot get out of that job and offer himself for redundancy payment and re-training and re-absorption in a more secure job. We know very many industries in which the work is seasonal and in which workers work short time for a long period. They may be on two or three days a week and one can imagine how frustrating it is to be depending on one or two days work per week over a long period of time. Eventually one is forced is decide that one cannot live in these circumstances and looks around for another job.

I appreciate that employers may want to hold on to their labour force, especially if they are a skilled labour force. It would be unwise to leave too much leeway for people to leave their jobs as such, but I think there ought to be a little more scope in this section whereby, if it is proven that short time is being worked over a long duration of one day, two days or even three days per week and where clearly the job cannot provide a living wage and offers no semblance of security of tenure for the future, in these circumstances workers should be entitled to opt for the redundancy scheme and all that it provides because to my mind the employers very definitely have the benefit here. However badly affairs may be going, if they want to hold on to their work force, they can hold on to them during saecula seculorum by reason of the provisions here. All they have to do is to carefully avoid leaving their operatives off for four or more consecutive weeks and they can work them one day or two days or a few hours a week apart from that indefinitely. This, I submit, would be an intolerable situation for industrial workers particularly to find themselves in.

An idea only the Deputy could think up for himself.

I can assure Deputy Booth that I am speaking from personal experience in this matter.

I do not quite know what the Deputy means. Did he say that workers could work short time indefinitely?

For a long period, for two, three or four months.

Four weeks continuously or an aggregate of six weeks within a period of 13 weeks will entitle him to give notice.

I know that, but assuming the employer brings these operatives in for a day or two per week, there is nothing consecutive there.

That is short time. That will count as short time.

It says here if

he has been laid off or kept on short time for four or more consecutive weeks...

I am presuming that he must have been completely idle for those four weeks.

No, he can have been laid off for one week, part time for the next, laid off for the third week and so on. As long as he has four weeks of lay off or short time he is entitled to give notice.

That clears up that point. Section (b) says that if

he has been laid off or kept on short time for a series of six or more weeks (of which not more than three were consecutive...

Here again we use the word "consecutive". Do we mean complete lay off?

No, lay off or short time.

Or short time. Would the Minister have a look at the section to make it somewhat clearer?

I think it is clear.

If he has been either laid off or kept on short time for four or more consecutive weeks.

Can I be satisfied anyway that short time-work for a pretty long period of time will qualify for redundancy under the section?

If there was short time for four weeks running, then he could give notice that he is going to claim redundancy and the employer could counter the notice by saying: "I have work for you for at least 13 weeks." That counters the notice.

I will accept that interpretation.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 13 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 11, lines 27, 31 and 36 to substitute "misconduct" for "conduct".

I think the word "conduct" here is too loose and it ought to be "misconduct" if that is really what the intention is.

It appears to be a printing error.

I will ask the draftsman to have a look at this. This is really a drafting matter. You are concerned with the type of conduct which merits dismissal and this, I presume, is misconduct. I will ask the parliamentary draftsman to have a look at it and, if necessary, I will amend it on Report Stage.

You should repeat "misconduct" all the time.

The word "misconduct" is in the margin.

I will ask the draftsman to have a look at it and, if necessary, I will amend it on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 14 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 11, line 50, after "offered" to insert "in writing".

Subsection (1) of this section states that an employee who has received the notice required by section 17 shall not be entitled to a redundancy payment if his employer has offered to renew the employee's contract of employment. I wish to ensure in this amendment that this offer is made in writing. I do not think it is sufficient that an offer could be just muttered in regard to such a matter as this. Later sections of the Bill deal with the matter in writing where the dismissal of the employee is concerned. I think the offer of employment, equally so, ought to be in writing and that it is much more beneficial to the person unemployed that he has the offer of re-employment. That ought to be in writing. There should be no question of a person finding out at a later stage, if he wishes to obtain employment, that somebody offered him employment but he did not take it. There is something tangible when the offer is made in writing. This can be produced in evidence in favour of the person who wants to claim.

Would the Deputy be satisfied if the offer did not give details? Usually the man knows what type of employment he was in and if it is offered loosely that if he wishes the same type of work, he could have it. I think the Deputy needs only evidence of the offer having been made and that it does not have to be detailed.

This is important if the matter is in dispute.

In this instance the employer would say: "I made an offer".

Very often it happens that you have this matter in dispute and you will find the worker saying that he was made no offer and the employer saying that he was made an offer. You then fall between both of them whereas, if the offer is made in writing it clarifies the matter.

It does not have to be detailed. It is just evidence of the offer. Is that what the Deputy wants?

I will accept that.

If it is in writing there obviously will have to be some detail put in. It would be much tidier to have it in writing and both sides would know what is offered.

It would give more employment in the typing pools when you have those letters written.

I will think about it but I do not see how it would work in practice.

It is just as easy for an employer to do it in writing and then the employee sees that he is going to be offered employment.

It would save a whole lot of trouble.

The purpose is to get the workers to withdraw notice.

The employee is not entitled to redundancy payment if he is made an offer. If he has not anything to show that he was made an offer he can come before the appeals board.

If he has nothing to show that he was made an offer, then he is entitled to redundancy payment. He cannot claim a lump sum when he is offered employment. When this is in writing it could be to the detriment of the employee and is probably the opposite to what the Deputy requires.

The evidence is in writing to show that he was made an offer.

The man could say: "I have a letter in my pocket to prove that I was offered the job."

Surely it is reasonable for him to ask the employer why he was dismissed from employment?

If the man has evidence in his pocket to show that he was offered employment, that evidence will show that he should not get redundancy payment and is, therefore, no help to him.

It very often happens that when people are seeking social welfare benefit that is the type of evidence that is taken.

It could be evidence of a reasonable offer if it were detailed enough.

It is a matter of interpretation.

I think it is a very wise thing if we have this but we must keep in mind that acceptance or refusal of the offer should also be put in writing.

Where would they be without you?

It is quite obvious that we have got to have it both ways in the interests of both sides. An employer could find if this were a purely verbal offer that there was no evidence but if it were in writing he could say: "I made an offer and there is a carbon copy of it and of the man's refusal."

The question of refusal is covered later on.

When it comes to an appeals tribunal, it should be before them that a written offer was made and there should be a copy of the reply which was received. That would help the appeals tribunal very much and make their job easier.

You would want to leave something for them to do to justify their existence.

There are two things to be considered here. One is that the man is under notice and is claiming redundancy and the employer says that he will give him the same job back and you want evidence to be in writing. Is that not it? If the man is given a different type of job, this could come before the appeals tribunal and, perhaps, evidence would be needed. In the first part of the section you are only giving back the original job. I will have a look at this between now and Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 15 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 16 stand part of the Bill".

This section refers to the definition of associated companies and I think there is something that should be said before widening this definition to some extent. There is an increasing move in business generally towards association between companies by exchange of shares, and even though a company may not be a subsidiary of another company, it may be closely associated by means of certain shareholdings. I think there may be something to be said for widening this definition to include companies in which, say, a minority of financial holdings of, say, 25 per cent is held by one company in another. If this definition were to be extended in this way, it would mean that it might be easier to offer employment to otherwise redundant workers in an associated company. It could easily be that it would be an active encouragement to companies to avoid redundancy altogether by means of offering similar work, not in the same company, not in a subsidiary company but in another company with which it was closely associated. If we can give the maximum incentive to companies to cooperate with one another in offering employment to workers who are in danger of becoming redundant, so much the better.

Would the Minister consider widening this definition of associated companies to include companies which have a 25 per cent holding in one another—25 per cent or more?

I have gone through this before outside the House. Each time I am brought back to the desirability of staying with the definition as in the Bill. I do not know of any way we can implement the suggestion. I do not think it would be desirable.

Surely, in regard to what Deputy Booth has said, we are aware that there are a number of business people with various interest holdings, partly in some cases, in others. It has happened that some such business people, when there is redundancy in their establishment, have found it necessary to turn to the question of whom to regard as being a good worker and saying: "As you know, I have a small interest in another firm; I will arrange for you to get employment there." Off he goes and makes such an arrangement. As I see it now, this will not hold good for continuity. It means the worker will have to start off all over again. It would be better to maintain continuity. The employer has been making his contribution and the worker has been making his contribution wholly in this particular place and partly in another establishment. Surely something should be done to cover that type of thing? It is happening every day. The Minister has an interest in this and I am not being sarcastic when I say this. That being so, it should encourage him to meet the situation. If we do not do this, we will end up by having fewer and fewer people obtaining benefit from this Bill. We will end up by collecting money from people and not paying it out. The Minister will have to give this some consideration.

The difficulty is that it would operate to the disadvantage of the worker. If a company wants to declare a person redundant or dismiss a man on redundancy and does not want to pay him a lump sum, all they will have to do is transfer him to an associated company. If you extend the definition of an associated company, you could include a very wide chain of companies and this lower 25 per cent could considerably reduce the number of cases in which a worker would be entitled to lump sum benefit. It would be a weakening from the employee's point of view. Under the Companies Act, the subsidiary figure is 51 per cent. This has limited to some extent the number of companies to which an employee could be sent as an alternative to giving a lump sum. If you reduce it further to 25 per cent, there would be quite a number of alternative employments to which an employee could be sent instead of giving him a lump sum.

Surely the main desire is that we hope as time goes on that there will be fewer and fewer cases of redundancy. We should bear in mind what Deputy Booth said on another section. This is for a short-term payment. We have also to take into consideration whether it is better to give a man continuity of employment or a short-term payment. The kind of case I have in mind is where we should encourage employers to look to their employees and that they will not get away from it. I would regard it as their obligation, rather than by just having them leave the employment and falling back on this short-term lump sum payment. That is what we should do and we would have a willingness on the part of an employer to protect his employees. He does not want it brought about in the fashion of simply having to give redundancy payments and that is the end. He is interested in having continuity of employment recognised.

For example, if Deputy Mullen were employing a person in a factory or in a firm and he had an interest of 25 per cent in another firm, if he is declaring that person redundant, he will have to give him a lump sum and that person could go over to the other company and get a job immediately: whereas, if you reduce it to 25 per cent, he can be transferred to a much larger number of firms and not get a lump sum. With this other possibility for the employer you would be giving up the worker's right to a lump sum in an increased number of cases.

In the 25 per cent job he goes to, he starts off from scratch.

Yes, having got his lump sum. If we change the law as you want it, he would not get any lump sum.

No. I do not want to push people out of work.

This matter was examined before the present discussion; I have studied it and its implementation would weaken the employee's position under the Bill.

No man wants to have his continuity of employment broken just to get his hands on a short-term payment. A man wants to get continuity of work. I hear people say: "I do not care who I work for as long as I am treated properly."

It depends on experience.

It does.

It depends on the length of service; if you have quite a considerable length of service with a company and you are going to an associated company, you could be entitled to quite a lump sum. You do not want to give that up; all you are losing is continuity of service but you are getting the lump sum. The balance is in favour of the worker.

I shall not press the matter because, if I wanted to press it, I would have an amendment down, but Deputy Booth inspired me.

I am glad to see the Deputies together.

It is seldom we are. Section 16 agreed to.


I move amendment No. 18:

To delete subsection (1) and substitute the following subsections:

"(1) An employer who proposes to dismiss by reason of redundancy an employee who has not less than 26 weeks service with that employer shall give to the employee notice in writing of the proposed dismissal and send to the Minister a copy of that notice.

(2) The notice required to be given by an employer in accordance with subsection (1)—

(a) shall be not less than one weeks notice if his period of continuous employment with that employer is less than two years; and

(b) shall be not less than two weeks notice if his period of continuous employment is two years or more but less than five years; and

(c) shall be not less than four weeks notice if his period of continuous employment is five years or more."

We have put down this amendment, which proposes to give certain notice periods to employees who may be given dismissal notice. We have been talking about the employee's right in his job all morning in terms of his redundancy payment. The employee also has a right in his job—a right to a certain period to be given to him before his dismissal from the job.

The Minister's proposal in the Bill merely recognises a right to a dismissal notice after four years service. Our amendment proposes that after six months in a firm an employee should be entitled to not less than one week's notice; that after six months and up to two years service, not less than one week's notice; not less than two weeks' notice if his period of continuous employment is two years or more but less than five years, and not be less than four weeks' notice if his period of continuous employment is five years or more.

We should take the opportunity in this Bill to tie in as much as possible with decent conditions of employment. Certainly the periods of dismissal we are looking for—the notice period to be given to an employee who is to be dismissed by his employer—are not in the least extravagant and are periods which anybody looking at impartially must accept. We know we have a very big job before us in civilising the employers of this country when it comes to dealing with their employees in a courteous fashion. This is one of the things which Irish management has not learned: they will believe that the right to hire and fire must have no qualifications whatsoever and must be absolutely the unquestioned prerogative of Irish management. What we are seeking to do is to bring some civilisation into this attitude of too many employers in this country. We are aware of cases where employees, after many years service, have been given an hour's notice, not to speak of a week's notice.

We wish to change this state of affairs by our amendment. We think it a reasonable amendment and we consider that if the employee has rights in his job for other payments under this Bill, then, most certainly, he deserves that good manners be exercised by his employer when it comes to the tragic position of having to let him go. We must see that the same rights which appertain to other grades of employment in this country, in many clerical and professional grades, obtain all round. Anybody would look askance at a person who would think an hour's notice adequate. A man beginning at one end of the scale after six months in a job should not have his plans disrupted by being told at six o'clock on Friday that he will not be required on Monday morning. Bearing in mind the financial commitments an employee enters into, such as hire purchase and so on, his employer, least of all, has the right to say to him blandly on a Friday afternoon: "We will not be requiring you on Monday morning". We would suggest it is downright barbarian behaviour on the part of any employer today not to give sufficient notice to his employees.

We would hope the Minister would accept this amendment, which seeks to bring some decent notice period in relations between employers and employees. We suggest one week's notice at the beginning of the scale, up to a maximum of one month's notice at the top. These are very small concessions but certainly should be embodied in this Bill.

The sentiments expressed by Deputy M. O'Leary are something which came under discussion here previously on the establishment of this Ministry. Good relations are the important thing and one of the things which would lead to good relations with regard to employees being laid off is that they would have some kind of reasonable notice given to them so as to re-arrange their affairs. I rise to ask the Minister to accept this amendment as being a reasonable proposition.

For the purposes of this Bill, the time I put down does not reflect my general thinking of what would be adequate notice of dismissal at all. For the purposes of the Bill, we settled on two weeks, to give replacement officers and administration time to take care of a person so made redundant. Later on in the Bill we have an incentive to people, a two and a half per cent increase in the rebate of lump sum payment for each week further of notice given.

I would ask the Deputies who put down this amendment to accept the time I have in this Bill. I agree with a lot of what has been said here about notice. It is a matter which has to be considered separately and will belong to separate legislation. I will undertake to do this if the Deputies will withdraw it from this Bill.

Is the Minister indicating he will include this amendment, or the terms of it, in other legislation?

I have not got as far as drafting the legislation but I shall have what has been brought up on this amendment included in other legislation—the giving of adequate notice.

Are we to understand it is the Minister's intention to bring in a Bill which will compel all employers to give a week's notice for a period of service?

Consideration of the matter is not far enough advanced for me to say what I would put in the Bill.

I feel strongly about this amendment for a number of reasons but, in particular, to keep lines right in industry. It has been the practice for a long time now to draw up agreements covering the situation where at least one week's notice must be given by one side or the other. The trade union movement has advocated this and organised employers subscribe to it. You have other cases where two weeks notice is given; others where a month's notice is given and yet in others where three months notice is given.

There are a number of categories of workers excluded from this Bill. Earlier this morning I referred to the Civil Service. It is my understanding that in the matter of notice in the Civil Service, they do not have to wait for four years to qualify for reasonable notice. On the other hand, we have the continued behaviour of some employers who go along with giving one hour's notice. Because of all these happenings, we formulated this amendment. This Bill has been described by more than one Fianna Fáil Deputy as being progressive legislation on the part of Fianna Fáil. I hold that if you do not accept our amendment, you are taking a backward rather than a forward step, because people will read into this an intention of the Minister. Employees, when dealing with a situation such as has been described, will look for a week's notice after six months service. They will say: "What about the latest Act put through the Dáil in connection with notice to employees in which the period is much longer?" Those are situations we cannot afford to ignore. Though a trade union can protect the interests of their members to a great extent, there are still a lot of employees in the country who are not members of any union.

I do not think the case mentioned by the Deputy would be covered, even if we made the amendment suggested. I will undertake to the House to have the whole matter reconsidered with a view to promoting new legislation——

The Minister misunderstood. We are anxious to set a good example and that is what we should be doing by adopting the method we suggest.

I should hope to set a good example in separate legislation, not in this Redundancy Bill.

The point we are making is that if this amendment is accepted, it will not impose any hardship on an employer but will stop a fairly widespread practice among the less decent type of employers of giving a man extremely short notice. This legislation is to deal with people who may become unemployed due to redundancy and there is no doubt that there is no firm which will find itself suddenly in a position of having to lay off workers because of redundancy: the management must have advance notice of their situation—they must know of its imminence for some time— and what we are asking is that by legislation we do away with the practice of less considerate employers who, though they are fully aware of the situation that is developing, wait until the last moment before giving any indication to their employees that they are to become unemployed.

If a man has been working for a period of from six months to two years for the same firm, surely he is entitled and it will not impose any hardship on the employer, to get a week's notice. Neither do I think it unreasonable to ask that a man who has given from two years to five years service to a firm should be given a fortnight's notice of the firm's intention to dispense with his services. We are not unreasonable in asking that after five years service, a man should be given four weeks notice in advance of the intention to dispense with his services. What we are suggesting in the amendment does not present any great difficulties to any employer. All we are asking is that a man be told a reasonable time in advance that he will become unemployed —that he be given a reasonable opportunity to look around and find out his prospects for future employment in another firm or industry. On reflection, I hope the Minister will see this is a reasonable amendment. All we seek is that by legislation we should bring less considerate employers into line with common decency.

Though I agree that the general principle in the amendment is desirable, there are difficulties in the way of administering it. Take one of many firms in this city. It has to employ a certain amount of day-to-day labour. Would this amendment not militate against employment of men on this basis?

That is covered by the 21 hours a week provision.

I am speaking about a situation in which the employment is casual.

It does not arise unless the person has been employed six months.

I realise it would be a desirable thing to bring about but the Minister has said there would be difficulties. I agree with Deputy Mullen that we must set a good example.

Yes, to go forward, not backward. What the Deputy wants to do is to set a bad example.

The Minister said he was not sure we could cover the points in the Deputy's amendment under this legislation. I agree that some employers in this city are brutal in their practice of dismissing people at short notice. I agree that practice should be stopped, but because the Minister cannot agree to accept the amendment, we shall look forward to his promise to bring in legislation——

Live horse and get grass.

For the purposes of redundancy payments legislation, what I propose here is adequate. What the Deputies seek to deal with is not appropriate for redundancy legislation which is limited in its coverage. People with shorter service than the qualifying period specified in the Bill would not be covered. This is a very important consideration and I undertake to have the matter dealt with but, as I have said, I do not think it would be appropriate in redundancy legislation. It would be appropriate to separate legislation and I undertake to the House to promote this.

Would the Minister not agree it is most appropriate in so far as it gives a man a reasonable opportunity of looking for alternative employment as a result of which he would not be a drag on the redundancy fund?

Two weeks is adequate to the needs of the redundancy scheme but if we must tackle the general problem of notice which concerns people other than those who will be covered by this Bill, we shall have to do it separately. I have undertaken to do this by promoting the necessary legislation.

If the Minister deals with that problem separately, will he not have to come back and change this legislation which will then look out of place? I am speaking now about this section. What is preventing the Minister from doing what we are advocating? Who would be injured by it?

I do not think we have given it sufficient consideration as a broad principle in all employments. This is a Bill which requires a specific notice for administrative reasons. I have spoken about the amount of time necessary for the administration of placement services and otherwise for the normal functioning of this scheme. I am aware of the problem the Deputies have described, I have promised to consider that problem and to promote the necessary legislation to deal with it.

Does the Minister accept that adequate notice should be given? If so, he should accept that every piece of legislation, including this, should make adequate provision for such notice. We submit that the provision in this section is not adequate. The Minister has not made a case for it.

I thought I had made a very good case.

Is the Minister saying he will favourably consider this problem and introduce legislation in the immediate future?

Something like it, or better maybe. I do not say that it will be in line with the Labour Party amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.