Redundancy Payments Bill, 1970: Committee Stage (Resumed).

SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 8:

Before section 4, to insert the following new section:

"4. (1) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of Section 9 of the Principal Act, an employee shall be entitled to temminate his contract of employment in circumstances of uncertainty in which it is reasonable for the employee to anticipate dismissal for redundancy (whether or not he has received notice of dismissal or protective notice of dismissal or lay-off) if it is reasonable for the employee to expect that his remaining in the employment would seriously prejudice his prospects of obtaining suitable alternative employment which became available and was unlikely to remain vacant.

(2) Where, in the circumstances specified in this section the employee has received an offer in writing from the employer and on a reference to the Tribunal it appears to the Tribunal, having regard both to the reasons for which the employee seeks to leave the employment and those for which the employer requires him to continue in it, to be just and equitable that the employee should receive the whole or part of a redundancy payment, the Tribunal may determine that there shall be paid to the employee—

(a) the whole of the redundancy payment to which the employee would have been so entitled, or

(b) such part of that redundancy payment as the Tribunal thinks fit."

The Labour Party have put down this lengthy amendment to ensure that a worker anticipating with good reason that redundancy is pending—we are all aware that employers can very often create an air of uncertainty about this —should have the right to seek alternative employment and still receive either in whole or in part redundancy payments. At the present time if a person legitimately anticipating redundancy obtains alternative employment he automatically loses his redundancy benefits.

Most labour and trade union spokesmen agree it was unfortunate that the 1967 Act did not include the provision contained in section 20 of the Northern Ireland Act. Amendment No. 8 is, in fact, a rewrite of section 20 of that Act. In simple terms we want the worker who has sought alternative employment in anticipation of redundancy to have the right to apply to a tribunal for whole or part of the redundancy payment. The tribunal should investigate the case and determine whether or not such a payment should be made to the employee. We feel that workers in the Republic should be afforded the same opportunities as workers in Northern Ireland are under section 20 of the Northern Ireland Act. This would make the measure more flexible and it would give employers a greater incentive to be honest with workers and tell them what their prospects are. It would also act as an incentive to workers anticipating redundancy to seek alternative employment.

In 1963 the Fine Gael party suggested companies should give more information about themselves to their employees. A subsequent NIEC report came up with the same idea. We wanted State companies to start doing this and we hoped they would act as an incentive to public companies to publish information about themselves. I agree that certain secrets about the purchase of new premises and such like could not be published, but this amendment is a logical follow on to the original suggestion made by the Fine Gael Party.

In many businesses employment can be very doubtful. We have had the experience of people who had been working for 20 or 30 years suddenly finding themselves without a job. The company gave no information to the workers. As Deputy Desmond said, if management were prepared to give more information not alone would the workers have more security, perhaps, but they would also be more loyal to their employers. I can see some slight abuses. Management might say that a company was going badly when that might not be the case at all. The Minister could compromise. Where redundancy has been declared and subsequently the employer wants to withdraw that declaration any employee who wishes should be allowed to move out and collect his redundancy payment. I support this amendment very strongly and I would be glad if the Minister could see his way to accepting it.

I have some sympathy with the suggestion that workers may find themselves in a position in which they feel their employment is being jeopardised and, because of that, they should be given an opportunity of moving into safer employment. I could not visualise many situations arising in which there would not be all the co-operation desirable between workers and management, the kind of co-operation which would enable them to have the change carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Bill. While having sympathy with the type of case that might possibly arise, one must weigh that against the possibility of what could happen on the other side. One must have regard for the situation from the point of view of management. If workers were given the opportunity of expressing the fear that things were not going too well they could use that argument legitimately at any time for claiming and getting redundancy payment. One can visualise the chaos that could lead to in industry. The remote likelihood that any cases might arise would not justify taking the overall risk of subjecting management to that kind of pressure.

The amendment is in two sections and subsection (2) seems to ask that the redundancy appeals tribunal be empowered to make partial awards. I would much prefer not to embark on a partial payments scheme. Having regard to the many safeguards for the workers' position in the Bill as a whole, I think the amendment should be withdrawn. It would create anomalies. If workers thought they could get better employment elsewhere they could always argue that they had a feeling their job was not going well. I am strongly opposed to the amendment.

The Minister puts up an Aunt Sally and then proceeds to knock it down himself. The amendment says specifically that the decision will rest with the tribunal. First of all, the Minister said the number of cases might be small and then he proceeded to argue that this provision would disrupt industry. If the second part of the amendment is accepted with the first part there can be no abuse because the tribunal will decide whether or not the claim is a legitimate one. No employee will jeopardise himself by simply leaving a job if the case for redundancy is not strong enough. He would be a fool to leave his job in those circumstances. If, however, he feels his job is going badly and he is likely to lose it, and another job comes up, surely he should be entitled to take that job and then appeal to the tribunal and get his redundancy pay. Had this been in operation we would not have had the situation we had in the last six or eight months. We would not have had the situation we had when Hibernian Transport closed down. For a couple of weeks employees were being laid off in ones, twos and half-dozens. Many of the workers told me they were offered jobs they could not take because, if they left, they would not get any redundancy pay. The Minister is making a mountain out of a molehill. This is a very sensible amendment and it should be accepted.

The Deputy has taken me up wrongly. The number of cases in which you would not have full co-operation on the part of the management would be few. The number of cases in which workers would be victimised would be so small I cannot see the need for this amendment.

If the amendments were accepted and workers were given the right to leave jobs and claim redundancy there could be many cases of workers leaving jobs since they could always assert they left because they felt there was no security in the job. This could lead to a good deal of shuffling in and out of employment and that would not be desirable. It would not be defensible.

I can see the Minister's point, but take the case of a company which manufactures for export and which does not have any export orders; they could lay employees off for a period. Then they might get an order, re-employ these people and lay them off again. It would be obvious the company was going downhill but nobody could put his finger on the date on which they would actually go broke. Surely the worker should be entitled in that case to make up his mind and get out into another job in which he could be useful. The tendency now in new companies is to pick younger personnel and the older employees could find themselves thrown on the scrap heap. This amendment may look as if it is hitting the employer but in actual fact it is not. The worker will be given more information and the sooner a man is told there is no future in a job the better that will be. There have been too many dead end jobs. Where workers are laid off the remaining workers are under the constant threat of being laid off too. There may be other jobs available elsewhere and they should have the opportunity of getting out at that stage if they want to. Surely they should be entitled to redundancy payment. Again, where an employer withdraws a redundancy notice, the worker is entitled to say that, if redundancy threatens once, it could also threaten again and it would be better to get out. Whether or not the declaration is withdrawn the worker should be allowed to move out at that stage.

The amendment does not cover the last type of case mentioned by the Deputy.

If the Minister would look at it he might come up with something.

Neither does the amendment make it compulsory for the workers to be informed as to how the business is going.

Rather than prolonging the discussion on the amendment perhaps the Minister might consider it on Report Stage? He might have a look at the situation in Northern Ireland where I understand this particular section of the Northern Ireland Act has worked quite well. In this regard I would refer to the case of Ballingarry. Many of the workers there were well aware in recent months that things were getting more and more difficult, not necessarily that Mr. O'Brien had no money but they knew they would be declared redundant. Nevertheless, they did not leave that employment but waited for formal notification of redundancy. If they had left of course they would have, in accordance with Mr. O'Brien's views, dismissed themselves. This brings a degree of flexibility into the Bill which admittedly is rather difficult to administer in terms of case studies and precedents. It does throw a great onus on the tribunal. However, the Minister might have a look at it on Report Stage.

I shall have a look at it all right or indeed at any matter; but it is, I agree, impossible to cover all the contingencies one could foresee. In trying to cover them one must have regard to the employers' rights too. They cannot be completely disregarded. It would be a dangerous precedent to give workers the right to leave one job and go to another and claim redundancy.

A person only gets redundancy once.

If the Minister would even go half way to meet that.

Why is it dangerous here and not in the Six Counties?

I do not think they have it in the Six Counties, quite honestly.

The Minister may take our word that it is in operation in the Six Counties, not exactly as we have suggested but in the same way.

I shall have a look at what they have in relation to that particular situation in the North. I had a look at the northern situation and let me say they have nothing we have not covered in this Bill.

Would the Minister have a look at it and he will find that it is, in fact, covered in Northern Ireland?

I shall look at it but I will not swear that it will influence me terribly.

I can see the danger of an employee saying: "I will leave now because this firm is going broke" when it may not be—it may be short of finance or something—but surely the Minister could go some way in this? In other words, if redundancy was declared or a number of people had been let go because of redundancy, it should be open to a worker at that stage to decide that it was time to get out and try to get a job with a more progressive company or a company doing better. You get a firm with bad management going down and the worker sees it but he cannot decide to join another firm. I agree with the Minister that if there was more co-operation between management and worker a lot of this would be covered but there is not that co-operation to date.

There are a good many cases.

There are not nearly enough and the Minister knows that.

That is why there are so many industrial strikes and the State companies are not the greatest at it either. If a worker is in a firm which is going down gradually he must stay with it until he is declared redundant. This is wrong. I agree with the Minister that it is also wrong that an employee should decide, because there is a shortage of money in a particular firm, that he is about to become redundant. They are both wrong. Surely in between the Minister could come up with something that would go half way to meet this amendment? It could be that, if there is declared redundancy or if a number of people have been sacked because of redundancy, from there on a worker is entitled to leave that firm and declare himself redundant.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 4 agreed to.
SECTION 5.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 3, line 30, to insert "or after" after "before".

If the Minister could give us sufficinet reason for the omission of the words "or after" after "before" we would be only too willing to withdraw this amendment. Section 5, line 30 reads:

An employee of the previous owner accepts, before the termination of his contract of employment with the previous owner, ...

We suggest it should read:

An employee of the previous owner accepts, before or after the termination of his contract of employment with the previous owner, an offer by the new owner of employment in the same place of employment.

I would fully accept the Minister's view that it might be six months or two years afterwards that he would get an offer of employment and that there should be some stipulation, say, before the termination of the contract or within two months after the termination of his employment that a new owner of employment should offer him the same terms as previously or not materially less advantageous. I raise the point because there are cases which could certainly develop and we want to elicit the information from the Minister. We will not push the matter too hard but we are rather puzzled as to why the words "or after" are not included.

I think I would undertake to stipulate some period of time here but I doubt if I would go as far as two months. I shall have a look at it between now and Report Stage and produce an amendment which I think will meet the situation, possibly a four weeks limitation.

I would ask the Minister not to make the period too short because it is quite usual for a firm to be taken over and a period of time to elapse. Two months would be a reasonably short period unless it was sold as a going concern. If it is sold as a going concern the difficulty does not arise. It would be a pity to spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar, which is what the Minister would do if he stipulated less than four weeks. In effect, he would be treating it as if it were a going concern. I would ask the Minister to stretch it to two or three months. I am sure that when he looks at it he will realise this very often happens. The temptation at present is to close down and let somebody else carry the can and then to restart again.

Four weeks after the period in which the employee's contract is terminated. We will take the Deputy's viewpoint into account when we are considering this.

This is where a case like the South County Hotel would come in.

Yes, to deal with certain types of cases.

Where it is sold as a going concern it is all right, but there are numerous cases. Indeed, before the main Bill came into operation quite a number of people were laid off and then were re-employed after a certain period by the same owner or by a different owner and it become a bit of a scandal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 3, to add to the section a new subsection as follows:

"(3) Where an employee is or was employed by a sub-contractor who (under contract or otherwise) is liable to another person (in this section referred to as the principal) and that employee is subsequently employed by the principal, the employee's continuity of employment shall have effect as if the sub-contractor and the principal were the same person.

‘Contract' includes a contract or arrangement—

(a) to carry out work or oper-tions of any kind,

(b) to be answerable for the carrying out of such operations by others, whether under subcontract to him or under other arrangements made, or to be made by him, or

(c) to furnish his own labour or the labour of others in the carrying out of such operations."

This amendment is one about which we are rather adamant and which we wish to press very strongly. Perhaps amendment No. 11 might be taken with it and we could discuss both together? Amendment No. 10 relates to the extension of section 5 to sub-contractors' employees not eligible for benefits on transfer taken on by the principal employer. I do not want to draw analogies but if I were to employ Deputy Blaney to do a job in Donegal and if I transferred Deputy Blaney to Deputy Brennan, if Deputy Brennan were to pay Deputy Blaney for work done directly it could be held that there was a new contract of employment between them even though I was the principal employer. Automatically, questions of length of employment with the subcontractor or contractor come into account.

The Minister may be intrigued as to where we got amendment No. 10. I can assure him it is one that Deputy Colley has dreamed up. It is taken directly from the Finance Act and I can see no good reason why we should not ally the Finance Act with the Redundancy Payments Act in terms of sub-contractual arrangements. I should like to bring to the attention of the Minister a number of cases in that regard. One is the well-known, rather blatant case No. 37 of 1970,Hehir versus Murphy—Murphy being the Cork building contractor. Another is the case Collins versus Murphy, No. 101 of 1969—what we call the take-over of employees where employers form a new company. I have in mind a particular employee who was told one day that his contract of employment was terminated, that the company had gone. He was a lorry driver in one of the two cases I have referred to and the following morning he reported for work. There was no change of foreman and he started off with a new employer because the employer had decided to liquidate the company and set up an entirely new operation. Automatically he was not covered under the Act. In relation to a number of instances known to us, we consider this was done rather blatantly. Deputy Tully has reminded me now, quite correctly, that I am speaking both on amendments Nos. 10 and 11 in terms of the take-over of employees. I am sure the Minister will understand the direct relationship here.

Therefore, we suggest to the Minister that he should be sympathetically disposed towards amendment No. 10. I think it is eminently fair and reasonable and worthy of his support.

I should like to support the Deputy but there is one point about which I am not happy. I am speaking now in regard to amendment No. 10. Let us take as an example a painting contractor who is doing a job for a builder or even a builder if he is sub-contracting. From the insurance point of view for a nominal rate he guarantees that the sub-contractors are insured and the insurance will cover him for that. If one happens to be uninsured the workers can go right through and take it from the principal. I think the rate is 20 per cent against 100 per cent here. In this instance something similar could happen except that it is for redundancy payments. Again, let us take the example of a painting contractor employing ten men. He works for a builder and goes broke. The builder will have to finish his contract in a certain time and the men concerned continue working for him. It may mean that it will take only three weeks to finish the job and in this regard the builder could be stuck and under pressure. In the long run if the builder had to do this very frequently he would not last very long. He might well have a considerable number of redundancies piling up. I see a loophole here. Otherwise, I agree completely with the amendment and I do not think employers would disagree with it.

Perhaps I might clarify one point. Deputy Desmond referred to amendments Nos. 10 and 11. The best case is where one considers the position in regard to the erection of a factory. In a country district a number of people are employed on the erection of a building which might take perhaps 18 months. When the factory commences operations the employee is switched and continues as the employee——

They are two different jobs?

Yes. Let us consider a manufacturing company who have a number of people employed in the sale and distribution of goods. After a period of ten or 15 years they decide that they will take them over directly as employees. These people lose all the time they have been employed as distributors by the fact that they were sub-contractors. Similarly, there are many jobs where the sub-contractor does a portion of the work and at a certain stage the main contractor takes over. It could happen that there will be a loss of the time when they were employed on the job, doing the same work for one person. Possibly the question of a complete take-over which is dealt with in amendment No. 11 might be left aside for the time being. I think amendment No. 10 is worded in the clearest way possible and I suggest that it should be included. I think the Minister can see its merits.

I am not sure that I agree that the two amendments can be taken together. I do not like the tone of amendment No. 10. A sub-contractor is a man who takes on his own employees, carries out the job in his own way and pays the employees. The man who has employed him as sub-contractor has no right to tell him how to pay his men. It would not be fair to ask the principal in that case to take on liability in respect of the other man's employees. It would not be right to compel him to do it. If he wants to take them on and agrees on continuity or otherwise that they are entitled to redundancy, they can claim it if they have the requisite period of service. If he wants to take them on and permit them continuity of service so that they may claim redundancy at a later date, that is all right too but I should not like to compel him to accept liability for the sub-contractor's employees. Amendment No. 11 does not deal with quite the same point. I do not think I could accept this at all. In any event, since the 1967 Act came into operation he is safeguarded.

How is he safeguarded?

If the principal employer does not agree to accept liability the employee, provided he has the requisite qualifying service, can claim redundancy payment from the sub-contractor. He can do this and that has been the position since the 1967 Act came into operation. This has been happening.

The Minister is missing the whole point of the amendment.

I do not think I am. In discussing it I think Deputies were inclined to think more about amendment No. 11.

I brought up the point the Minister brought up.

The Minister must be aware that in this city there are a number of very big firms who employ sub-contractors to carry out maintenance work. They may be employed for a year, or two years, or three years. If they find that the premises they are employed on is a good one they may move in there. They are employed in the same premises all the time but at the moment they cannot count the service which they had with the sub-contractor who was carrying out the maintenance work. The Minister says that this can be done if they have the necessary four years or two years but the Minister knows that is not correct because the Department of Labour will almost certainly shoot them down and say: "They are not entitled to it. You can make redundancy payment yourself if you want to, but we will not because they are not entitled to it."

The whole question comes down to whether or not it is important for a man to get credit for employment with a sub-contractor when he switches over to the main employer on the job. This may not seem important to some people who are interested mainly in protecting the employer's interests. I am sure that the Minister must understand—he represents a rural constituency—that these people working on a job cannot live those years over again. I know a man here in town who was employed by a sub-contractor for ten years in the one establishment. He has been doing maintenance work in that establishment and if, as he hopes, he gets a job one day with the principal firm for which he has been carrying out the maintenance, he will lose all his service. The Minister may say that he can count the service which he had but he cannot because no provision is made unless he is laid off as redundant. He would be terminating the service. There is a lot more in this amendment than the Minister seems to think. I would be very glad if he would take a good hard look at it before he throws it out.

I will promise to take a look at that on the understanding that we are not quite on the same beam. I think that in the type of case the Deputy cites the employee is covered. A man who has been working for ten years and is eventually taken on by the principal is entitled to his lump sum and then he goes on to his other employment. He has it both ways.

He has not. The Minister does not understand. He can only claim that once and if he goes on to the other employer that finishes that ten years and he starts back in square one with regard to his entitlement to anything.

After two years he is qualified again.

For what? Do not try that.

For the minimum lump sum.

A lump sum of two weeks pay.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

Will the Minister look at it again?

I will, certainly, to see if there is anything substantial in it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 5 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 11:

Before section 6 to insert the following new section:

(1) Where before, on or after 1st January, 1968, an employee was employed by a Company which was wound up, liquidated, sold or otherwise ceased business or ceased to employ the employee, and the owner, or a director, or a person who had a controlling interest in that Company, dismissed an employee in circumstances of redundancy and within 52 weeks renews the employee's contract of employment or re-engages the employee under a similar or new contract with another Company of which he is the owner, director or has a controlling interest, the employment of that employee shall be deemed to have been continuous.

(2) Payment (if any) to employees affected by this section who were dismissed by reason of redundancy before the commencement of this Act shall be made from the Redundancy Fund.

The case study here is the case ofHehir versus J. and G. Murphy of Cork, builders. I regret having to mention names but it is the easiest way to show why our amendment is necessary. This person never lost an hour's pay, but a new company was formed. He started off the following morning under the same foreman and yet he was deprived of his benefit for the simple reason that he was taken over as an employee rather than the company being taken over, one might say. We have referred to Case No. 37 of 1970 and Case No. 101 of 1969. There is the case of Darby versus Jacobs, Case No. 380 of 1969. In that case again there was a takeover of employees, a new company being set up and a change in the control of the employees and the employees losing their benefit. We feel very strongly about amendment No. 11. After all this was the very purpose of the redundancy legislation.

We have good reason to believe that a very small minority of employers— but nevertheless they should not be allowed to get away with it—deliberately used this loophole to avoid payment of benefit. There is a very large number of case studies already in existence which involve the takeover of employees. There is the case ofHalpin versus Meade, another take-over of an employee, Case No. 334 of 1969. There is the case of Roche and O'Reilly versus Lawler, Case No. 420 and 423 of 1969. In the case of Roche and O'Reilly versus Lawler they were catering employees and the employers changed. A tribunal held that there was no change in the business as such. We have had that kind of development and there is certainly need for a change in the current legislation. I strongly urge the Minister to consider this amendment sympathetically.

I can see Deputy Desmond's point. The amendment provides: "...the owner, director or has a controlling interest, the employment of that employee shall be deemed to have been continuous." A director could have 3 per cent or 4 per cent of the shares. He could be brought into the company because he has the knowhow but he might not have the ability to run it. I agree the amendment should apply where an employer re-employs men and continues with the controlling interest. If a person has 51 per cent of the shares he has not the right to sell that company but if he has 76 per cent he can do what he likes with it. Occasionally for tax purposes or to avoid certain actions being taken, a person with a controlling interest could start a new company and the workers might suffer. However, I do not agree with the inclusion of the word "director" because he might have no say and might be only a small boy in the firm. For instance, an ex-Taoiseach or an ex-Deputy could be a director for 20 different companies, but you could not apply this provision to a whole range of companies like that. However, where there is a majority stake I would agree with the amendment.

The amendment is a far-reaching one and could have serious implications for employers. It is objectionable in principle for two reasons: first, because it is contrary to the concept of limited liability which is common law and, secondly, because it seeks to impose liabilities with retrospective effect from 1968. That is the legal side of it but, in practice, we could be legislating here to overcome the irregularities of malpractices or possible malpractices of a few people and maybe penalising workers who are genuinely helped to obtain new employment by good employers. Deputies may have experience of cases from the Appeals Tribunal where somebody has acted deliberately for the purpose of circumventing the regulations of the Redundancy Act but I do not think there is justification for inserting a special amendment to get at something that is the exception rather than the rule, an amendment that could do a great deal of harm to employees. Firms may be associated through directorship or otherwise with other firms and frequently can assist employees to find jobs elsewhere. You are hitting at those genuine cases for the sake of dealing with what would appear to be the reprehensible practices of another firm. The amendment would do more harm than good and I would not be prepared to accept it.

I concede that a person may be a director in 20 different companies and that it is wrong to include "director" in the amendment. However, take the case of a builder who erects, let us say, 60 houses and there is a fault in each one of them. The purchasers take action against him and he goes into liquidation. If he had a controlling interest he could start another company and change it slightly in order to prevent the trade unions following it up. Where his wife had five shares he could give her ten and so on; in other words the company is not exactly the same; the directors are different having regard to the number of shares they hold. There is also the fact that if a person goes into voluntary liquidation after a certain number of years—I cannot remember the exact period—he can save tax. These are two cases in which the worker can be caught. I do not say it is the intention to victimise the workers, but the employer could let some of them go and keep on a few others as it suits him. As I say, where there is a majority interest, where a company is really owned by the one person or a company is owned by a holding company of the same group, this amendment should apply.

We have been endeavouring through the various amendments to this Bill to plug holes in the original Bill. The legislation is less than four years in existence and Deputy Desmond has already given at least half a dozen examples indicating the need for an amendment such as this. We in this party are not wedded to the actual wording of this amendment but, in the light of these examples, we believe an amendment of this kind is required. The argument that the Minister makes that this may do harm to employees of good employers cannot hold, because the good employer will be good whether there is a Bill there or not. He does not require legislation. The reason we are amending the legislation after four years is that all employers are not necessarily good in their dealings with employees.

There is a definite need for this amendment or for an amendment on these lines. There are many instances, not only in regard to redundancy, of individuals turning themselves into limited liability companies in order to avoid some kind of liability. It would not be surprising to find this happening in the future. If the Minister is not enamoured of the wording he can put forward his own amendment, but I would ask him to reconsider the matter.

Could the Minister tell me why he wants to deal with companies in a different way from that in which he deals with private employers? The next section, section 7, says:

Where an employee who was dismissed before the commencement of this Act was not entitled to redundancy payment under the Principal Act in respect of the dismissal solely because the requirements of the business carried on by his employer for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or to carry out such work in the place where the employee had been so employed, had not ceased or diminished or were not expected to cease or diminish, the Minister may, at his discretion and notwithstanding the Principal Act, pay to that employee out of the Redundancy Fund a sum equal in amount to the sum to which he would have been entitled under the Principal Act if the said requirements had ceased or diminished or were expected to cease or diminish.

That is, if he is a private employer, he can do the three card trick. Deputy Desmond has read an impressive list. We are not asking the Minister to take our word for these cases because I am sure they are documented in the Department of Labour. They are cases which with the exception of one or two have come up on appeal—an English decision in the case ofBumsted v. I. L. Cars Ltd. and McKinley v. Craig Paisley and Melvin. In almost every case the situation was that there was a takeover of employees on the same job where the owner became insolvent or where an owner or his son switched the name of a company and which resulted in the employee not being treated in the same way as if he were employed by a private employer. There is no reason whatever why this should not be included except that the effort appears to be to let these people off the hook.

Let me refer again to the fact that as soon as it became known that the Redundancy Payments Bill was to become law, the smart fellows endeavoured to get away with something. We asked that the Act be dated back to the date of the publication of the Bill because this was the only way in which it could cover the people concerned. Of course, the Minister did not do that with the result that everybody knew the legislation was pending and took advantage of it. We are asking that the same be done in respect of another amendment that will be coming up later on because people who have known that the period was being reduced from 208 to 204 weeks have since been laying off people of relatively short service for the sole purpose of getting away with a few shillings. This is an amendment which the Minister must accept and if he does not so accept it, we shall challenge a division on it.

I am afraid the Deputy has not said anything that would lead me to change my mind on this. What I think the Deputy has in mind is having it made retrospective in order to bring in one or two cases which he has already thought of. I am opposed to the principle of retrospection and we must make a case against it. Apart from that, I am advised that this is objectionable in principle for two reasons. In the first place, it is contrary to the concept of limited liability which is a basic of company law. We cannot introduce something that is contrary to the provisions of what is basic in company law and thereby create new liabilities for persons. Also we must think of the genuine cases that I have been trying to explain such as when a firm closes down but everything possible is done to help the employees to obtain employment with other firms. Of course, if they have completed two years employment with the firm they would be entitled to a lump sum. I do not think that any serious damage is being done here to workers. I am afraid that the Deputy has more in mind the reopening of one or two cases that occurred in the past.

May I put it to the Minister that we are not going to have a division solely on the question of retrospection? We are free and easy on that aspect. We know that injustices have occurred in the past under the Redundancy Payments Act of 1967 but that is bad law and bad precedent and we do not intend trying to have it both ways in that regard. What we are saying is that under the new Bill there should be fairly tight provision to prevent a deliberate—one might even say malicious—intent on the part of an employer to evade the prospect of responsibility for an employee's continuity of employment. Technically, if the Minister does not accept our amendment there is nothing to prevent an employer saying to an employee "I know you have worked here for the past 30 years but we are setting up a new company as and from Monday next. Naturally, you will be kept on in your job but your continuity of employment will begin as and from next Monday". Of course, from the employer's point of view it would be worth something to him to have no redundancy liability on his books if he intends selling out in, say, 18 months time. I am stretching the point but I think that can happen. I pointed this out in relation to Cork City where, in my opinion, there was a definite case in which this did happen. The building firm concerned has now gone into liquidation.

I would point out also a second case—that ofHalpin v. Meade, Case No. 334—in relation to the takeover of an employee. In this case the employer died and his son then took over the business. It may be argued that continuing liability, statutory limitations and so on, which would impose fresh legislation on the son, should not be contained in legislation. I make a point that in this particular case the son of the original employer formed a new company and the employee's claim before the tribunal was thrown out and he got nothing because he was not eligible for redundancy. In a case such as that there should be some continuing responsibility and liability arising from the continuing employment of the worker. A worker should not be hammered to that extent. If, at Report Stage, the Minister can give us any assurance that, even on a futuristic basis, he might try to meet the point made by the Labour Party, we shall not challenge a division on it. Otherwise, we have very strong feelings in relation to this amendment. While I can appreciate the objections to retrospection, I believe there should be some means by which the tribunal could prevent some of the Mickey Mouse efforts on the part of a minority of employers to evade liability under the Act.

So far as we in Fine Gael are concerned we could not accept this amendment where a director is involved. We could accept it in the case of a majority of shareholders but not in the case of a director because a man could be a director of 25 companies. The Minister's case about upsetting company law does not worry me unduly in this case. In Dublin city, for instance, many people own limited liability companies which may be operating under different names. A glaring case here is that made by Deputy Desmond where a company was taken over by a son of the owner and where the continuity of employment should have existed. I would not worry about the limited liability. I am sure a good barrister versed in company law could tell you that you could easily get out of this. I hope that the Minister will have another look at this.

I hate to be appealing to have divisions warded off by promising to have another look at a section and I would like to be very honest about this matter. I cannot quite see that in future there will be any of the danger of the type which the Labour Party Deputies feel there might be. Certainly I would not be prepared to have any retrospection. As far as the qualifying period is concerned, we have reduced it. Redundancy is redundancy and if a man can continue in employment then he is very fortunate. The number of persons likely to be adversely affected if this type of amendment is not incorporated in the Bill is likely to be extremely small, and indeed I can hardly visualise any. I could see, however—and I think Deputies will agree with this—that it could do harm by passing on liabilities to people who have not got such liabilities at the moment and who can be genuinely helpful with good employees. Such people have been helpful in the past and I hope always will be. We could make it awkward for them by attaching a liability to them which they have not got.

Would the Minister agree that what he is saying is that the decent employer who would not do this sort of thing should not be penalised? He would not do it anyway. We are trying to get at the man who has no conscience in regard to money or employees. The Minister is not so naive as to imagine that there are none of these. Unfortunately, they are far too numerous. Even if there were only half a dozen the effort would be worth it if we could in this legislation ensure that the half dozen who would suffer as a result will not suffer by plugging any loopholes in the Bill. In regard to retrospection, I am sure the Minister is thinking of cases in which the State might have to produce money because some employers would not be able to turn it up, but as he says the number would be relatively small. However, there are a number and it is the job of this House to ensure that nobody is imposed on by the smart alec who does what we are trying by this amendment to prevent. Like the Minister, I do not think that we should stave off divisions simply by saying that this matter will be looked at again. Following the information which Deputy Desmond has provided I would ask the Minister to have his officials look at these case histories and see whether or not there is justification for doing what we are asking in the amendment. We could have a division here and be defeated on it and see on which side people stand, if we wanted to do that. We are prepared to do that if the Minister will not look at this again. I would ask him to get his officials to look at what has been cited here and see the unfairness of what happened. If he can come back on Report Stage and say that he is still satisfied that nothing can be done then we are prepared to accept that, but every effort should be made to ensure that any loophole in the Bill will be plugged.

I should like to give the Minister an example which has just occurred to me. I own the same amount of shares in six companies and I promote or move a man from one company to another. Well, that is all right; he is going to get his redundancy as if the company were all one, but in fact he is losing continuity of employment. He is losing each time he moves. If he moves from one place to another place no redundancy is due to him. If he moves within less than two years no redundancy is due to him. This is what can happen. I am giving the Minister a perfect example involving a group of companies which are basically the same with a slight difference in the share holding and I can tell the Minister that in law you have no case.

The Deputy is citing the case of a man who would be working for a year and 11 months and the company would move him to another one and then after another year and 11 months move him to another and deprive him of the right of continuity which I do not think under other sections of the Bill could be done. However, before we pass it over with a promise of looking at it again I will read the proposed amendment. It says:

Where before, on or after 1st January, 1968, an employee was employed by a company which was wound up, liquidated, sold or otherwise ceased business or ceased to employ the employee, and the owner, or a director, or a person——

forget about the retrospection—

who had a controlling interest in that company, dismissed an employee in circumstances of redundancy and within 52 weeks renews the employee's contract of employment or re-engages the employee under a similar or new contract with another company of which he is the owner, director or has a controlling interest, the employment of that employee shall be deemed to have been continuous.

Could you not be doing a disservice to an employee who was knocked off maybe after six or seven months and some company, which possibly could be held to be an associate, re-employs him? We have to provide this entitlement to continuity. Looking at it at its best the new employer knows that he is taking on this man with a liability of continuity and would the obvious thing for him to do be not to take him on and to take on somebody else who does not carry such liability? In that way you are not doing a disservice to reemployment.

Nobody can force an employer to take on somebody who has a gap of six months but where he does take him on we say that he shall not penalise him retrospectively.

The Minister must also know that no employer employs a man because he likes the man's blue eyes or fair hair but because he is the best man he can get to do a particular job. If he has been employed in a firm for a number of years doing a job and he is off because the company is being wound up and then somebody restarts the company, either under a new name or under new management, he is re-employed for that reason; he is not re-employed because he is liked. This is a thing which annoys me because always we seem to get the impression that workers are being done a favour by somebody when they are given a job. If they are good men or women doing a hard day's work they are earning every shilling they get. A man or woman with five, six, or ten years will get a relatively small amount of redundancy payment under existing or amending legislation, but if they go back into employment and are employed for a further ten or 20 years, the additional time they would be allowed to work earlier will be important to them. That is the kernel of the amendment. In addition, there is the question of ensuring that people who have already been codded by what has happened should, if possible, be covered by this. The wording of the amendment is ours; the parliamentary draftsmen may have entirely different views and we are prepared to agree if an amendment which they believe will cover some of these things we are trying to get at here is introduced it will at least be an improvement on the present Bill.

The Minister gave an example of a person being re-employed and said he might be employed because of the amount hanging over his head. If the employer is re-employing him as a result of his work in another company he must have been very happy with him in the previous company. He must be a very good man and he would have no worries about carrying something like that which he may never have to pay. The man must be good if he is going to take him again.

That kind of man would not have been dismissed in the first instance without redundancy payment.

Another company did; he did not take him out immediately.

We are making the point that there is some association between them, that they are virtually the same. However, we shall have a look at it and see if there is anything, having regard to all that has been said here, that is worth re-drafting so as to meet some points that would help the employer without creating a situation that would give rise to anomalies.

We do not want to do that but there must be a better way of doing it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 12:

Before section 6 to insert the following new section:

6. The following subsection is hereby inserted in section 19 of the Principal Act.

"(4) An employer who fails to pay a lump sum which is due to an employee under this Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50."

I am always very reluctant when moving an amendment to suggest that we should have a division if it is not accepted. In this case, however, unless the Minister is prepared to accept that there should be some form of penalty for non-payment of the lump sum I think we in these benches have no option but to seek a division. Section 19 (1) of the principal Act baldly says:

Upon the dismissal by reason of redundancy of an employee who is entitled under this Part to redundancy payment, or upon the termination by such an employee in accordance with section 12 (2) of his contract of employment, his employer shall pay to him an amount which is referred to in this Act as the lump sum.

(2) Schedule 3 shall apply in relation to the lump sum.

(3) The Minister may by order amend Schedule 3.

Unfortunately, there is no provision in the 1967 Act whereby if an employer tells an employee that he is not getting his lump sum and refuses to pay it, the employee can do anything about it. That is that under the Act. The Labour Party propose that an employer who fails to pay the lump sum due to an employee under the Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50. I take that customary figure as the rather conventional conservative penalty in that regard.

The point is self-evident. You can have a situation where only under the collective pressure of the Minister and the redundancy section of the Department and the trade union an employer finally pays out the lump sum. Half the number of workers in this country are not in unions and we on the trade union side tend to forget this. The insured population not in trade unions is invariably very weak and consists of persons open to exploitation, many of them in the service industries. Therefore, if an employee is entitled to a lump sum which might be the largest single amount of money he will ever get arising out of a lifetime of employment, no employer should have the option of saying: "You will not get your lump sum. You can sue me if you like but I will not be liable on a statutory basis."

I think amendment No. 12 is quite fair and reasonable. It is beyond the understanding of my party that it has not been incorporated in the 1967 Act. The vast majority of responsible, reputable employers do pay the lump sum but I know of at least four or five cases where in the recent past employees were told to go and sing for their money. Personally I have been told by two employers in south County Dublin that I could also go and sing for it. I am here singing for it this afternoon and seeking some statutory measure of redress.

I do not know if the Deputy has properly studied the provisions of the Bill. In the case where an employer refuses to pay the lump sum and the employee brings his case to the tribunal and is granted a lump sum, the Minister is entitled to pay it out of the fund and can take action against the employer for the recovery of the amount and deprive the employer of the rebate—all or part of it— which he ordinarily would get. This is a pretty severe penalty in itself and safeguards the employee. Looking at subsection 3 of section 17 of the principal Act we find it states:

An employer who fails to comply with this section or who furnishes false information in a notice under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.

The penalty is already in the principal Act and there is the additional penalty I have just outlined of being refused the rebate when he is made to pay up as a result of the decision. I am not too sure about this. Penalties are mentioned in subsection (4) of section 18 of the 1967 Act which states:

An employer who fails to comply with this section or who furnishes false information in a redundancy certificate shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.

That relates to a redundancy certificate in the Principal Act.

The Minister is missing one point. We are not talking about the fellow who supplies information; we are talking about the person who simply does not pay, who gives no information and who refuses to discuss the matter. It is all very well for the Minister to say that the man can apply to the Redundancy Tribunal and get redress and that the employer who is foolish enough to do that loses out heavily, but we are dealing in one case with an employee who, as Deputy Desmond has said, because he is not a member of a trade union, is not aware of his rights and does not know the right way to go about it. We are dealing with an employer who may not be quite sure what the employee is entitled to, but is certain that he is not going to give any money to an ex-employee if he can get away with it.

If the employee is advised to take the case to the Tribunal it may take some time to get his money but eventually things will work out. What the Minister is overlooking is that like the man who will not stamp his employees' insurance cards the one thing an employer dreads is appearing in court where an official will tell the court that this man did not do what he was supposed to do under the law. Nobody, even in a town or city, not to talk of a country district, likes to be held up as a mean person before his neighbours. As things stand there is no provision for legal action unless the employer gives false information. If he plays dumb he can get away with it without going to court. Has the Minister any evidence of the number of people taken to court for giving false information? I am prepared to hazard a guess that none of them has so far reached court. The same thing happens here as happens to employers who fail to stamp insurance cards. The Department are a little too kind with people who do not meet these things, because they are people who have property and they are dealing with people who have nothing except what they earn with their two hands.

I am not quite clear if the present wording is the best way of doing this, but the amendment proposes that if an employer does not pay his employee the money due to him it should be possible to take him to court in addition to depriving him of the share of the refund he would be entitled to. I believe this would have an effect not only on him but on many others like him. I had a letter this morning from a man who said he was employed by his employer for 27 years and he was laid off. The employer told him he would pay him his redundancy pay. Nothing was put in writing because the man did not know he had to have documents filled up and his employer either did not know or was too cute to tell him, but after ten weeks the man went back to his ex-employer to find out why he was not getting his money and the employer told him he had changed his mind, he could not afford to pay him. I am quite sure if that employer realised that in addition to having to pay the money he would have to go to court and pay a £50 fine, he would have been much more careful.

He can be fined £50.

If he makes a false declaration.

No, failure to produce a redundancy certificate is one of the things for which he can be fined.

The Minister read an extract from the 1967 Act——

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but I would just like to say I am not opposed to the spirit of this amendment at all. My only opposition to it is that it is unnecessary. There are already sufficient penalties covering any case that this amendment could conceivably cover with the addition of penalising the employer and the rebate.

If the Minister will reread section 17 of the original Act he will find an employer can be convicted for not giving notice, but there is nothing in it which states he can be convicted for not paying the money. The man I was talking about——

Take section 18.

——a few minutes ago got notice but he did not get any money in the bank.

Failure to produce a redundancy certificate immediately puts the employer in the position of having to prove that he is not liable to a fine of £50.

Maybe I am leath-chaoch but I cannot find anything in either of those sections which says that he can be fined for failing to hand over the money due to the employee.

Redundancy certificates—if the Deputy likes I will repeat this.

It is the money I am talking about not the certificate.

If he refuses to pay the money he has not produced the redundancy certificate, which is the same thing.

Supposing he produces the redundancy certificate, but still does not pay the money, what can one do?

He is not meeting his liabilities. This is the perfect example of where the employee is at no loss whatever because the redundancy fund comes to the rescue and the tribunal then are responsible for trying to secure the money from the employer. This is a very good system because I could visualise cases where he might not be able to pay due to circumstances.

Nobody is able to pay anything.

Subsection (3) of section 17 states:

An employer who fails to comply with this section or who furnishes false information in a notice under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction...

That refers to the giving of notice. Subsection (4) of section 18 states that an employer who dismisses an employee shall give him a certificate and failure to comply with this section means that the employer will be liable on a summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50. In section 19 subsection (4) of section 18 is omitted. An employer can refuse to give an employee notice in writing of the proposed dismissal; he can refuse to send the Minister a copy of that notice and he will get hammered to the tune of £50 for a conviction. Likewise, an employer can refuse to give the certificate to the employee and he will be hammered to the tune of £50, but the employer can refuse to pay the lump sum but no penalty is mentioned. I know that an employee has a redress through the tribunal but let us remeber that redundancy and subsequent unemployment is a traumatic experience for an industrial worker. At that stage he is not in a fit condition to start careering off to the office of the Minister for Labour, seeking out the various forms, completing his complaint, waiting to go before the Redundancy Tribunal and getting his money from the tribunal. Months later the Minister will go through the whole process of litigation to get the money from the employer, less the proper rebate. What we are saying here is that an employee entitled to a lump sum, whose employer tells him to go and swim for it, is entitled to statutory protection. In other words it will be an offence on the part of the employer. I do not think the Minister should have any difficulty in accepting this amendment.

The Deputy and I would be well advised to have another look at this. There is ample cover. Under section 19, where the Third Schedule is said to apply, there is very good protection for the employee because, instead of putting the onus to take action on the employee, the Minister takes action for him. The Minister pays the money and takes all the responsibility for recovering from the employer.

With regard to the redundancy certificate, the employee is provided with a form at the employment exchange and that form incorporates a certificate for the lump sum. Receipt of a certificate of redundancy is in itself a receipt for a lump sum and failure on the part of an employer to produce it renders him liable on conviction to a penalty of £50. There is adequate cover.

In 1970, some 3,800 employees were declared redundant. I should like to know how many employers were prosecuted for failure to produce certificates. The answer would be revealing. The Minister might have another look at this between now and the Report Stage; otherwise we will have to press the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 6 agreed to.
SECTION 7.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 4, after "diminish" in line 7 and after "diminish" in line 12, to insert "(as if section 5 had been enacted in the Principal Act)".

Here we are suggesting a new method of control, a method which would give fairer treatment. Admittedly it would mean applying section 5 retrospectively. This amendment could reasonably be accepted by the Minister.

I am afraid I could not accept this amendment. I do not think it would add anything. It would certainly add nothing to the administration of the Act.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 18 is related to amendment No. 14 and they can be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 14:

To add to the section a new subsection as follows:

(2) Where an employee who was dismissed for reasons of redundancy before the commencement of this Act was not entitled to a lump sum redundancy payment under the Principal Act solely because the claim or appeal was not made within the period of 30 weeks specified in section 24 of the Principal Act and the employer had failed to give the employee—

(a) the written notice of dismissal under section 17 of the Principal Act, or

(b) a redundancy certificate under section 18 of the Principal Act,

in cases where the Tribunal decided, or decides, that the employee was dismissed for reasons of redundancy (and notwithstanding the Principal Act), the lump sum as duly calculated, shall be paid to the employee out of the redundancy fund.

Where there is a deliberate failure on the part of an employer to give notice we propose that the lump sum payment could be made without the certificate. This is self-explanatory but the Minister's views would be welcome. This would certainly strengthen the Bill.

I think we have already dealt with this matter of retrospection. I could not accept either of these amendments. Amendment No. 18 would seem to abolish altogether the time limit for claiming lump sums. We have been reasonably generous, I think, in trying to meet the views of all concerned by extending the period to 52 weeks and that 52 weeks can be further extended to 104 weeks. Neither side in industry would like to see the time limit abolished altogether. What we are inserting is a very good medium. It goes far enough to meet both employers and employees.

Again, the Minister is saying that those who got away with it, because there was a loophole in the Act which enabled them to avoid making the payments they should have made, should not now be interfered with. In essence, that is what the Minister is saying. I am no more a lover of retrospective legislation than he is but, as Deputy Belton said, the Government when it suits them have no hesitation in introducing retrospective legislation. Here we have a clear case in which people were coded out of a few pounds, a few pounds which would have made a great difference to them, because the employer did not obey the regulations. Had he been prosecuted it would be a different matter but, as Deputy Desmond pointed out, no such prosecutions took place. Certain employers simply got away with it. The employee did nothing about it and the employer clapped himself on the back and said: "I wiped their eye that time." He wiped the eye of someone who had lost a job and who was badly in need of a few pounds, but that will not keep the employer awake at night. Here we are talking about the exception in employers.

I am glad to say that we do not have so many of these people but I would follow to the ends of the earth the employer who tries to get away with this. I would do everything possible to make him meet his commitments. That is what is suggested in both of these amendments. I cannot see why the Minister says that since he has given, in the new Bill, 52 weeks, with a possible extension to 104, that that should be sufficient. I suggest to him that under other legislation there is a statute of limitations laid down. It is laid down for ordinary debts. In my opinion money owed by an employer to an employee is an ordinary debt. Therefore, I suggest that he should accept both amendments and let the statute of limitations be the only bar on it. An employer may lay off a man and give him the impression that he will be re-employed and play him along, as a few of them I know have done, and keep him going until he is outside the law as it stands. There are employers who are proud of themselves for doing this. Such an employer may be depriving the head of a household, with a family to support, of a few pounds which would probably cost the employer very little if he had gone about it in the right way but would not do that because he was a particularly mean type of person and did not want to meet his commitments.

We are now getting an opportunity to do something which was not done when the 1967 Act was going through. If the Minister then knew that this sort of thing would happen I am quite satisfied that he would have put such a requirement into the Bill but not having put it in he is now asking the House to accept from him that those who got away under that provision should not be penalised in any way and that those who try to get away with it in the future should not be penalised either. I do not follow his line of reasoning at all. Fifty-two weeks will almost certainly be the limit. In rare exceptions it may go to 104. When we are talking about protection for working people there is no reason why we should not give them the fullest possible protection. If somebody who owns a business owes money and is bound only by the statute of limitations with regard to the repayment of that, why should an ordinary worker be bound by the one year period suggested in the Bill? Why should he also not have simply a statute of limitations governing the time in which he may recover the money which is legally, lawfully and morally due to him? This is the kernel of the whole thing. Some people do not seem to understand that workers are being done out of money to which they are morally entitled. The Minister is prepared to pooh-pooh the whole thing and say he would not have anything to do with retrospective legislation. It may not be the best thing in the world but when the Government could do it when it suited themselves in other ways I see no reason why, on this very important issue, they should not introduce what the Minister calls retrospective legislation and let this money be paid without a limit on the period. In addition, they should make those who have got away with it meet their commitments.

The Minister should seriously consider accepting the Labour Party's proposal. A statute of limitations might, perhaps, be a major problem facing the Minister but why should there be a specific time limit? Admittedly, the Minister is being somewhat generous in the proposal, coming up to 104 weeks. Nevertheless, we think the limit should not formally exist. There have been a number of cases involved. I have in mind the case of Ryan v. Limerick Health Authority in relation to disputes about the definitions under the Act. Difficulties arose which I suppose could be said to lie with the original defective drafting of the Act itself where a midwife was replaced by a district nurse. This brings us to the case in England where a barman was replaced by a bunny girl. That was the subject of a rather interesting court case too.

The Minister should accept the Labour Party's proposal. It is eminently fair and reasonable to submit that if an employer fails to give the statutory notice, and this usually happens in the case of non-trade union people, they may discover a very considerable time afterwards that, in fact, they were entitled to redundancy compensation. Bearing in mind that the length of insured employment is generally being reduced, it is most frustrating for a person to discover that if he had activated his interest earlier he would then have been entitled to benefits under the Act but because the employer was cute enough not to mention it or unfair enough not to give it he is, in fact, no longer entitled to it. The Minister should reconsider his approach on amendments Nos. 14 and 18.

Amendment No. 14 has to do with a type of legislation which is not desirable because it seeks to controvert something that was passed in this House, went through without any counter proposals at the time or anybody questioning the adequacy of the 30 weeks which was provided in which to make a claim. To re-enact legislation that would undo the decisions taken under that section would not be good legislation.

It is totally different in the Ryan v. Limerick Health Authority case where the spirit of the Act is contravened in a decision of the Supreme Court. We all agree that this is contrary to what the original spirit of the Act was intended to be. To re-define what the original intention was is retrospective legislation and could be contested to some extent but at least there is justification for it in that it is giving to the Act the definition which it was originally intended that the Act should have. To bring in retrospective legislation to cover cases which it was agreed were adequately covered under the section would not be desirable. Thirty weeks was considered to be reasonable at the time. Nobody questioned it.

We were very ignorant three or four years ago.

Thirty weeks at the time looked a fair length of time. We expect for the future to extend it to 52.

We will not be bringing in another amendment in three years time so the Minister should do it now.

I think it is properly covered, really.

I do not think it is.

I think the amendment is unnecessary.

If a company goes into liquidation or a person dies and his estate is being paid out this estate could not be closed for a period of two years. Is it correct that the estate could not be closed? It applies in section 10 but I do not know if it applies in this instance also.

No. It really deals with the time an employee has to claim redundancy. Where there is protracted legislation or litigation regarding the transfer of estate or some change of title this claim could be made at the outset.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.