Private Members' Business (Resumed): - Redundancy Payments Bill, 1970: Committee Stage (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
In page 9, at the reference to section 7, to delete "The substitution in subsection (5) of ‘104 weeks' for ‘208 weeks'" and substitute:
"The insertion after ‘weeks' of the following words:
‘(reduced to 104 weeks as and from 22nd January, 1971)'."
When the House went into Private Members' time at 6 p.m. this evening the Labour Party were strongly pressing the Minister to agree to have retrospective effect given to the Redundancy Payments Bill to the 22nd January, 1971. In submitting amendment No. 21, we consider we were being reasonable. Section 7 of the proposed Bill reduces from four years to two years the qualification for redundancy payments. I do not propose to press the Minister at great length on this matter but I would point out to him that this Bill was circulated first in July, 1970. We had the First Stage in February and we are now taking Committee Stage. I assume we shall finish Committee Stage tonight but, I suppose, it will be several months at least before the Bill has passed through the Seanad and before the signature of the President is obtained.
Meanwhile, employers have been alerted that the qualification period is being reduced to two years. Advance notice has been given to them that if they were to lay off people some months or weeks ahead of the new statutory minimum period, in effect, they would not be obliged to pay redundancy compensation. Therefore, the Labour Party have put in a modest, conservative and very circumspect amendment, namely, having the operative date applicable from 22nd January, 1971. This is not legislative retrospection to the extent the Minister might allege. As the Minister is aware, this is known in the Finance Act and in the proposals made by the Government in relation to the Prices and Incomes Bill, which the Government withdrew in indecent haste. Therefore, the concept of retrospection is not unique in legislation. We are simply ensuring that any industrial worker who has more than two years served will qualify as from 22nd January, 1971. On that basis we commend the amendment to the Minister. We are aware of his fear in relation to retrospection but we think this amendment is worthy of consideration. The cost involved would be quite fractional and the amendment proposed will not materially change the Bill. In fact, it rather simplifies matters so far as the Bill is concerned.
Fine Gael supported this amendment. I do not believe in retrospection but the Government have brought this into other Departments; for example, in regard to the collection of money. In this instance, it is only a case of paying out money given by the workers and employers. This Bill was introduced in July last but the delay in dealing with it was the fault of the Government. During the last year we have spent more time discussing the troubles in Fianna Fáil with the result that legislation was not dealt with. As Fianna Fáil are responsible for the delay in this case, they should at least help in the matter now and agree to the 22nd January, 1971.
I said earlier that it would be better to pass the Bill straight away without any amendment to have it enacted at least a month earlier and provide benefit for more workers. Since this was mentioned last July and was introduced in January many employers both good and bad—the good employers have been holding on to their staff so that they may benefit from it and the bad employers have been trying to get rid of them before it becomes law—have felt that they cannot hold on to their employeesad infinitum. If the Minister accepted this amendment and if these people had to be let go they would get the benefit of this Bill.
I have given my views on the retrospective part of the legislation earlier on. It is not correct to say that the amount of money involved would be small. I think it would be quite formidable. It would depend on the date on which the Bill is finally passed through both Houses and goes to the President for signature. I do not think it would be wise, apart from the difficulties of administering the legislation retrospectively. The cost to the fund would be fairly heavy. Certainly, there should be no principle of retrospection in legislation of this kind.
It is not correct to say that the Government had difficulties that held up the Bill. The Bill contains many matters all of which were the subject of full discussion with the interested parties. I do not think it is even fair to say that time was lost in the preparation of the Bill for Second Stage, or any stage for that matter. This legislation was prepared honourably and in the proper spirit. The interested parties were given an opportunity of knowing what we were aiming for and of making suggestions as to what form the Bill should take.
I do not want to be pushed into the side lanes of discussions that are not relevant but I do not think anything that happened in the House in relation to the Government position consumed any time other than what the Opposition consumed in trying to stunt on the Bill in order to jockey themselves into position for their own benefit.
We should sit back and let you fight away among yourselves. Remember all the Estimates we did not discuss. The Government could not get around to them.
I appreciate the Minister's concern with regard to retrospective legislation if he is dealing with the cost, but I cannot understand these repeated references by the Minister to objections in principle. He is a Minister of a Government which enacted retrospective legislation, and threatened to do so again in the very recent past in relation to the Prices and Incomes Bill. This is the big stick that was waved by the Minister for Finance at that time.
I can readily appreciate the Minister's difficulty if he is worried about the cost and whether the fund will bear it, but all we are asking is that he should undertake to look at this matter again, between now and the Report Stage. We are anxious—possibly more anxious than the Minister—that there should be no delay in the passing of this legislation. There are some very good sections in the Bill. There is no doubt about that. We are anxious that people should be able to avail of the improvements as quickly as possible. Irrespective of whose fault it is, a certain amount of delay has occurred in the enactment of this legislation. We are not looking for anything unreasonable. We are suggesting that the date should be 22nd January. We are not anxious to press this amendment but we will press it. We are asking the Minister to give an undertaking to look into the financial aspects of the amendment and give up this nonsense of talking about objecting to retrospective legislation in principle. They are a crowd who have done that time and time again. Will the Minister look at it?
We will have an opportunity of discussing it again on Report Stage and I will look into it again in the meantime.
Purely the financial aspect?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 9, before the reference to section 9, to insert the following reference to section 8:
The addition of the following subsections:
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‘ (3) If an employee was or is laid-off, or dismissed or his employment was interrupted in circumstances that it was or is reasonable for the employee, to believe that the employee would be permitted to resume employment at the end of the lay-off period, or interruption, that interruption shall be deemed to be a lay-off.
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(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section “lay-off” shall cease as soon as the employer gives the employee written notice to that effect.
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(5) “Notice” in this section means a written notice’”.
This amendment is a straightforward addition to the Schedule. Unfortunately in existing redundancy legislation both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic there are no guidelines which would help us with this amendment we are proposing. We are suggesting that there should be some provision whereby it would be possible to link up the various periods of seasonal employment for workers who can be classified by and large as being seasonal workers. We have given a definition which may seem to be rather tortuous but it is the best we can get from available legislation. In simple terms we are suggesting that if an employee was or is laid off or dismissed or his employment was interrupted, and it was or is reasonable for the employee to believe that he would be permitted to resume employment at the end of the lay off period or the interruption, that interruption shall be deemed to be a lay off as distinct from a redundancy. We have also put in a paragraph providing that "notice" means a written notice.
We feel that these two propositions are fair and just, bearing in mind that there are quite a large number of industrial workers in manufacturing industry, notably in the food manufacturing industry, working on a seasonal basis, who could claim that this legislation does not cater for them. Accordingly we strongly recommend to the Minister that he should consider amendment No. 22 most carefully.
This is the type of amendment with which I would have no quarrel except that I consider it is unnecessary. The provisions made in the Bill for continuity of employment are more than sufficient. In section 9 we make provision whereby continuity is presumed until determined otherwise by the appeals tribunal. That in itself is a tremendous step forward in relation to the Principal Act.
I do not think any of the experience we draw from the past would indicate a serious need for a subsection of this kind. The Redundancy Appeals Tribunal has invariably taken the view, in determining the question of continuity of employment, that the important factor is the general pattern of that employment, the employment looked at in retrospect. I would cite the case of dockers, and I think this is the type of person the Deputies proposing the amendment have in mind. In the computation of continuity for the purpose of rationalisation or decasualisation in the docks, continuity of employment has been accepted in the spirit of this legislation. The provision we propose to make for a presumption of continuity in section 9 is another safeguard. The Deputies are only seeking to make assurance doubly sure.
Admittedly there is an improvement in this Bill, section 9 (a) of which says:
a person's employment during any period shall, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed to have been continuous.
I dislike putting a redundancy tribunal under the obligation to act on a presumptive basis, on the basis that one is guilty unless one is proved innocent; we prefer to approach the matter from the other angle, that if the person is in continuous employment then, by definition, he most certainly is. I am pleased the Minister has said that the general pattern of employment is taken into account by the tribunal. It is unfortunate that is not contained in the legislation. I know that intermittent lay-off in relation to employment such as that of dockers is taken into account by the tribunal; nevertheless, in the light of our comments on this, I would ask the Minister to reconsider it with a view to providing a better definition of continuous employment than saying: "We will take it you are continuous unless you are proved not to be continuous", which is a rather cumbersome way of approaching the matter.
The background history of the Principal Act and the processing of cases, strengthened by the presumption of continuity of employment in section 9, goes a long way, if not all the way, to cover any cases that one could imagine. I would remind the Deputy that presumption of continuity until it is proven otherwise is a safeguard for the employee, because he is held not to be in the same position to lay his hands on records. It is much easier for the employer to find the necessary records to prove his case. The provision in the Bill makes it easy for the employee. I am not opposed to the proposal; I just think it is unnecessary.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No.23:
In page 9, before the reference to section 12, to insert a reference to section 11 as follows:
Subsection (1) shall have effect as if the words ‘after the commencement of this Act’ had never been enacted.”
This Bill is a unique and valuable piece of social legislation. Admittedly we are very ambitious in going back to 1968, but the Minister might consider this again as he has undertaken to have another look at the whole matter on Report Stage.
I am sympathetic towards this amendment but only to the extent of permitting the application of the lay-off definition in section 11 to the pre-1968 interruptions of employment of workers. I would be prepared to bring in an amendment on Report Stage that would cover that definition.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 24:
In page 9, before the reference to section 12, to insert the following reference to section 11:
The addition of the following subsection:
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‘(3) An employee who has been laid-off and who is not subsequently allowed to resume the work for which he was employed to do (as soon as the employer is able to provide the work) shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy, at the time at which resumption of work is not allowed or on a date which is four weeks later than the date of lay-off, whichever is the sooner’.”
From the Labour Party point of view this is a major amendment and I would give the Minister advance warning— and we are not acting in a threatening manner—that if we cannot reach some agreement we intend to divide the House on this. Unless our amendment is accepted it is quite possible that a worker who is laid off and who subsequently goes back to work and finds that his employer has put a new employee in his place, can be told by the employer, without being specifically declared redundant: "I am sorry. I have enough workers." The worker is, in effect, redundant. The net effect of adding this subsection is that, if an employer fills what one would call lay-off vacancies, the laid-off employees would be deemed to be redundant. This is a very important amendment because we are of the opinion, with admittedly only 18 months or two years experience of the 1968 Act, that this particular contingency, one might say the doomsday contingency, to borrow a Government word, should be taken care of under section 11. Accordingly we ask the Minister to give careful consideration to this amendment. Under Orders of the Day on today's Order Paper additional amendment No. 24a appears.
Yes, despite the short notice.
Despite the short notice. It is a very complex piece of legislation and we are trying to clear the whole thing tonight, if possible.
I want to say at the outset I am totally opposed to this amendment which runs contrary to one of the basic principles of the Act. The amendment appears to take no account of the principle in the Act that redundancy does not occur when a worker who is dismissed is directly replaced in precisely the same job. This would be actually using the provisions of the Redundancy Act to compel an employer to retain or re-employ a worker. It goes a bit too far in that direction and I would not accept it at all. It is not necessary to talk long or loudly on this amendment which seeks to use the very generous provisions of this Bill and the Principal Act to intimidate an employer or, to use a nicer word, to prevent an employer from laying off employees whom he might for legitimate reasons want to get rid of. Surely an employer must have some freedom to lay off employees if he wishes to?
Not under the Redundancy Act.
If they qualify for redundancy they have all the means at their disposal for having claims processed, but this amendment is going too far.
I do not know whether I heard the Minister correctly or not. I can agree with him up to a point, but I cannot agree that an employer can use redundancy to get rid of a man whom he has taken a dislike to, which in the normal circumstances would be argued out between the employer and the trade union concerned. An employer cannot use redundancy to get rid of a man simply because he does not like the colour of his eyes.
I do not think the Minister really meant what he said. I could not understand the Minister for Labour seriously using the expression he has just used. In effect what he has said is that if an employer wants to avoid paying redundancy and he feels that in 12 months, 18 months or two years his firm may in fact be going to reduce its work force or lay off men, he can find an excuse and sack men with 40 years experience and replace them by men who will not have any claim under the Redundancy Payments Act. This is, of course, a matter between the trade unions and the employer and employers will not be allowed to get away with it. What the Minister has done tonight, and it is terrible thing, is to put into the minds of people who make it their business to employ non-trade unionists whenever they can get hold of them, to avoid paying redundancy pay by simply dismissing those who would be entitled to redundancy and take on somebody else in their place. According to the Minister if an employer dislikes the fact that he might have to pay a couple of hundred pounds redundancy pay in a few months or a year's time, that is sufficient reason for him to sack an employee and replace him with somebody else. If that is the Fianna Fáil philosophy on worker/employer relations I am not a bit surprised that we have so much trouble with workers.
If Deputy Belton wishes to argue that the use of this amendment would not have the effect of putting pressure on employers to re-employ persons I do not know what else he can argue.
Deputy Belton took up the words the Minister said.
I said quite clearly that this can be interpreted, one only has to read the wording of it, as a lever whereby the provisions of the Act could be used to compel an employer to re-employ a person.
The Minister also said an employer could use it to get rid of a man——
If the Redundancy Act is to be used in this way it is a disgrace and the trade unions will not allow it.
I am saying this section can be used for the purpose of pressurising——
I started off by saying I semi-agreed with the Minister. The Minister said an employer could use the section to get rid of staff he did not want and that to me is a disgrace and no trade union will allow an employer to do that.
If we give him time to reflect on this I am sure the Minister will concede that we have a very serious point. Under the existing Act it appears that there is nothing to stop an employer saying, "Right, I am laying you off, lads, for a couple of weeks; it is purely a temporary lay-off in your employment." The business may not be doing very well and in good faith an industrial worker, and any one of the 800,000 covered under this legislation, would have no option but to accept that temporary lay-off because of the limited powers of workers. When they report back for work, the employer under this legislation can say, "I have taken on somebody else. The job you were laid off from is filled. I am terribly sorry, but there is no employment." In this way the employer does not become liable and there is no legal defence on the part of the worker who makes application. In this situation the very purpose of the Redundancy Payments Act could be self-defeated because a noxious incentive to employers is being left in the Bill. This should be eliminated. I have no doubt that the vast majority of employers who lay off workers take back workers in the same positions as they have previously vacated but with the question of redundancy compensation entering into it employers take a closer look at their employees' records in terms of length of service because they now have statutory obligations under the Redundancy Payments Act. When it comes to hard cash we all tend to look at our liabilities very sharply. I cannot see why the Minister is unduly worried or why he is acting on the presumption that we in the Labour Party are being unduly harsh on employers. If an employer comes to the conclusion that a particular worker should not be taken back that is an industrial relations matter.
Admittedly, it can be thrashed out. We say here "on a date which is four weeks later", which means the employee would have to go back within a month. That is a fair and reasonable proposition. He could not go back at any old time and claim back his employment. This amendment was very carefully drafted and I think it is worthy of consideration by the Minister.
I must be adamant. This is a contravention of one of the principles of the Act. This is not the place at which to deal with wrongful dismissal. We have been talking about the preparation of legislation in regard to that for some time and we have a great deal of information compiled on it. This amendment expressly states "shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy". I think that is going too far. Irrespective of what he was dismissed for, if he is not re-employed within a certain period an employee will be deemed to have been dismissed for redundancy. Deputy Belton argued that this is fair. I think it goes too far.
Does the Minister argue that, if an employer has a number of employees who have been with him for a long period and he feels that, within the next few years, they may become due for redundancy pay, he is entitled to lay off such employees and replace them with other employees, thereby avoiding his responsibility as far as paying redundancy is concerned? Is the Minister contending that that is legitimate?
I will give way to the Minister if he will explain exactly what he does mean because, to me, that is what he is saying.
It is not a sufficient argument in favour of this amendment to say that an employer is not justified in getting rid of an employee just before he has reached the qualification for redundancy. That is not a sufficient argument in favour of an amendment which proposes to have lay-off deemed as entitling an employee to a redundancy payment if that employee is not re-employed within four weeks. That is what the amendment explicitly states.
That is not what the amendment says.
"An employee who has been laid off and who is not subsequently allowed to resume the work for which he was employed . . . shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy . . . on a date which is four weeks later than the date of lay-off, whichever is the sooner." That is quite explicit.
It is not. I am sorry to say it, but the Minister has not even taken the trouble obviously of reading the amendments which have been put down.
I have read every one of them.
This is the third amendment the Minister has completely misinterpreted this evening. When he was half way through reading this amendment now it was quite clear to me that he had misinterpreted because nowhere does it say that there is insistence that people should be re-employed within four weeks. The amendment says that if eventually an employee's job is filled but he is not re-employed to fill the job he "shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy". That is a different thing altogether. The Minister should give credit where credit is due. We went to a great deal of trouble preparing these amendments and we are now trying to argue them reasonably but, in the face of the opposition on the part of the Minister, we would be better off not wasting time here and waiting for a change of Government to get something through. Because of what has happened to other amendments I am quite certain the Minister has not taken the trouble to study this. If he were not an intelligent man I could understand it, but he is a very intelligent man; he should easily understand what is meant here if he takes the trouble to find out.
We are saying that if a number of men are employed and their jobs close down temporarily and subsequently other people are put into their jobs, then they should be entitled to claim redundancy pay. Even if the employer says they are not redundant, the jobs are there but he has put other people into them; as far as these people are concerned they are being declared redundant. The Minister has issued a clarion call to any employer who dares to lay off people when they become qualified for redundancy pay and to replace them with others who are not so qualified. The Minister will not get away with it where the trade unions are concerned, but unfortunate unorganised workers will be caught, as they were caught before. The Minister is taking up a disgraceful position. We will put this to a division and see how many of the Minister's supporters will be prepared to vote for it and justify it to the House afterwards.
Nothing the Deputy has said changes the situation.
It is not sufficient to argue that my reason for refusing to accept the amendment is that I do not understand it. It is all very well to cite a case in which a firm closes down and reopens with different employees; this is a situation I could hardly visualise. It is something no one could expect to get away with. According to the amendment, if a firm lays off a man for any good reason and does not re-employ him he will be deemed to be entitled to a redundancy payment. Is that not the purpose of the amendment?
We have told the Minister three times.
It is quite explicit —"shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy".
Might I read the whole amendment because a selective reading of portions of the amendment might give in the Official Report an impression which is not correct? The amendment simply says:
An employee who has been laid-off and who is not subsequently allowed to resume the work for which he was employed to do (as soon as the employer is able to provide the work) shall be deemed to have been dismissed for reasons of redundancy, at the time at which resumption of work is not allowed or on a date which is four weeks later than the date of lay-off, whichever is the sooner.
The amendment is quite clear. First of all, the job closes down. The man is laid off. Subsequently the job restarts and someone else is employed to do it. It is as simple as that. We claim that, when that happens, the person who loses his job under those circumstances is redundant and should be entitled to redundancy pay. The Minister says that is wrong; it would allow someone to steal the pension fund, or hit the employer on the head, or burn down the factory. This is what the Minister says we are talking about. The Minister knows quite well we are talking about nothing of the kind. We are talking about the genuine worker and the redundancy tribunal is the body which would subsequently interpret this. At present they cannot do that. This should be included in the Bill because it will be years before another such measure comes before the House providing an opportunity of amendment.
It is all right for the Deputy to talk about the genuine cases this would cover, but does he deny that it would cover other cases that it should not cover?
If the Minister is extremely suspicious of our amendment it is open to him at Report Stage to bring in his own amendment. Let us take the example of a garage in Dublin or down the country. At a seasonal peak the employer takes on a large number of motor mechanics and keeps them for a number of years. At the end of the second or third year they are qualified for redundancy compensation in the event of a normal lay off. He has a lay off, say, around the summer period and when he finds business picking up again we maintain that if he does not offer that employment to those whom he has laid off then within a four weeks period they should be declared redundant. That is fair and reasonable and I do not think it in any way sets out to catch an employer. The four weeks period is very fair and it stops employers from simply laying people off and deliberately not re-employing them. The Minister admitted that there could be a genuine anomaly under the Bill and it is the genuine cases that make good law. While we are talking repetitively now on section 24 it is simply in an effort to get the Minister to see the merit of it because it is worthy of very serious consideration by him and by his advisers.
I do not know if there is much good in continuing on these lines. At its best this is an undesirable amendment and at its worst it is an amendment which seeks to use the Redundancy Act as a vehicle for ensuring that people will be re-employed. In other words, it can also be argued they will not be laid off if an employer knows that he must in certain circumstances re-employ them or else; it is using this legislation as a vehicle for preventing lay off. I believe the way to do that is in a separate Bill, which is overdue in this House, dealing with wrongful dismissal. If this is what the Deputies are arguing, this is not the place to do it because it could cover cases that it would not be desirable to cover.
God help us if the Minister introduces a wrongful dismissal Bill in view of the fact that he is not prepared to accept this amendment.
No, I do not think that is the spirit of this legislation and I have gone as far as anybody would be prepared to go to safeguard the rights of the workers.
Is the Minister suggesting that we are trying to embody in this Bill a protection against wrongful dismissal? What we are trying to do by this amendment—and if the Minister really understood the amendment he would realise it—is to stop abuses of the Redundancy Act. The Minister seems to think that the cases that might be covered by this amendment are so few and far between that they do not count. The Minister is not right. The dead meat industry comes to my mind. It is normal practice every year in that industry to lay off quite a number of people at a particular time of the year. That is a fairly big industry in which thousands of people are employed. If 20 men are laid off on seniority the lay off should take, say, six weeks. At the end of the six weeks 20 men are re-employed but five of them are new workers and five of the people who were laid off and accepted the lay off in good faith are told that their jobs are gone. It is not redundancy because 20 men are back at work. Redundancy does not occur. All we are trying to do is to ensure that this Bill will not be used by employers for various reasons—they want to get rid of people, they do not want to re-employ them, they tell them they are going because of redundancy. This is accepted by the people who are going but five of them do not get back. There is no redundancy because the employer still has 20 men. That is what this amendment is meant to cover. Surely the Minister can see that?
It is quite easy to cite cases where it could be very useful but it is also quite easy to cite cases where it could have the opposite effect.
Would the Minister care to cite one? I think we are wasting our time here trying to persuade the Minister to do anything because he came in with his mind made up.
I have met you on every reasonable point you put up.
The Minister has not met us on one point.
This is not reasonable. The employer must have some rights and if he lays off somebody who is undesirable the provisions of this Bill should not be used to compel him to take him back. That is what it amounts to in actual fact.
If the employer wants to lay off someone who is undesirable let him lay him off and state why. He is justified in doing that.
This is the nub of the matter. If an employer regards a particular employee as being quite unsuitable for his continued employment nobody in the Labour Party will dispute the employer's right to say: "You can no longer remain in my employment" subject to trade union agreement if there is a trade union there. If there is no trade union the employee has no redress anyway. We do not dispute that at all but we do not want Mickey Mouse lay offs, in other words an employer saying: "We will let you go for four or five weeks. Come back and see us in a month." When the fellow arrives back a month later he finds the vacancy is filled. The employer says: "I never declared you redundant. I only laid you off on an intermittent basis. I am very sorry for you but that is the end of the matter." In other words, the purpose of the amendment is to put industrial relations on a more democratic basis in the broadest and most humanitarian sense. This anomaly does exist under the Redundancy Act and the Minister should consider the matter again.
Can the Minister not see the distinction between a man being laid off for redundancy and an employer using the question of redundancy to get rid of someone whom he considers to be undesirable but is not prepared to justify it?
If an employer wants to lay off somebody he cannot be compelled to re-employ him if he has good reason for not doing so.
The Minister was talking about the protection of the employee and the question of unfair dismissal. This whole question is going round and round now. I am a trade union official and one thing I will never do is to ask an employer to retain a man if he can prove that that man is either undesirable and not prepared to do his job or unable or unwilling to do it. No responsible trade union in this country or elsewhere should try to keep a man in a job in such circumstances. What we resent is a situation in which an employer would lay a man off with other people, not tell him why, and then bring somebody else in the back door to replace him. If an employer wants to lay a man off for a good reason he should be man enough to face him and do it. This brings us back to the Minister's reference to legislation. It is of this that employers are scared. An employer, for instance, can lay a man off with others and later take the others back, leaving the man without a job. Our aim is to protect the worker from such treatment.
The Chairman of the British Industrial Tribunal, Sir Diarmad Conroy, summed up the attitude of the Irish Labour Party when he stated:
The policy behind redundancy payments is not that they should tide a worker over a period of unemployment; earning related benefits are intended for that purpose. The stated purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate for a loss of security, and to encourage workers to accept redundancy without damaging industrial relations. A redundancy payment is compensation for the loss of a right which a long-term employee has in his job. Just as a property owner has a right in his property and when he is deprived he is entitled to compensation, so a long-term employee is considered to have a right analogous to a right of property in his job, he has a right to security and his rights gain in value with the years. Therefore, when he is deprived of them by reason of redundancy, Parliament has provided that he is entitled to a redundancy payment as compensation for the loss of that right. The purpose of redundancy is to compensate a worker for loss of job, irrespective of whether that loss leads to unemployment. It is to compensate him for loss of security, possible loss of earnings and fringe benefits, and the uncertainty and anxiety of change of job. These may all be present even if a man gets a fresh job immediately. Unemployment benefit on the other hand, is designed to provide a regular source of income during unemployment. There is a distinction between the compensation for loss of office, and the relief of hardship.
By this amendment we are not forcing any employer to take a worker back. What we are trying to do is to ensure that if an employer refuses to take a worker back that the worker is deemed to be redundant. If, on the other hand, the employer says: "I will not take you back, you are a so-and-so employee", it is an industrial relations matter. If he says: "The job has been filled, you have had it, out you go", a different set of circumstances arises. The Minister should be able to see the point and I do not propose to speak further on it unless the Minister persists in his interpretation.
I do not wish to be repetitive on this. Would the Deputy not agree that it is in contravention of the whole principle in the Act that a person is not redundant if he is replaced by another worker? That is one of the principles accepted—that redundancy does not occur when there is a replacement. My fear is that there are many such cases which the amendment would cut across.
The Minister said that when a person is replaced he is not redundant. In the normal course of events, if you replace anybody there will be a trade dispute but if a person puts his hand up to the elbow in a till or something like that, that is a straightforward sacking.
Nobody is disputing that.
In this case, where there should be a straightforward sacking, the employer wants to get rid of a man. All right, he can sack him because the man is not good enough for his job. What the Minister is doing is trying to use the Redundancy Bill to sack such a man. Deputy Desmond said this is one thing that will ruin industrial relations because you have an employer who is not man enough to face up to this task. The employer should face the man straight, tell him he is not good enough and get another man. The employer could get rid of three or four men and take in three or four others. That is disgraceful. If it were allowed to happen you would have no industrial relations left anywhere.
We have been talking about undesirable employees, of people not capable of doing their jobs or some aspect of their jobs. Workers with whom we are concerned might not be that type at all. You could have a good employee in a factory. There is a genuine lay-off due to redundancy, it goes on for a number of weeks and when this good employee should be resuming the foreman wants to get his brother-in-law or pal in and the man has gone. We want to protect such genuine employees.
There are two sides to this. I can see the Minister's original point but I can also see the other point about something being used to get rid of an employee. Surely it is something the Minister should look into again.
The Minister is not doing something to change a sitution that exists. Somebody else is putting in something by way of amendment to do something which I contend is not necessary. One would think I am introducing something. In fact, I am not doing anything. The amendment is entirely additional and I do not intend to accept it. The principle of this Bill and of the Act is that a person is not redundant when directly replaced by another worker.
We are talking about an employee who should not be laid off as redundant.
The Bill proposes to alleviate that decision but not to change it. There are reliefs——
You cannot alleviate the situation of a man who is laid off as redundant because the employer wants to bring somebody else in the back door if you do not give him the few pounds he is entitled to.
We may appear to be badgering the Minister.
Do not worry about the Minister. I accept the argument as to what each of us desires— about what one of us wants to do and the other wants not to do. I do not accept Labour's point of view that this will have a serious effect on industrial relations. I am afraid the amendment would cover many cases other than those genuine cases which the Deputy is citing.
I will conclude on our amendment. It is time we had a vote on this. Some of the statements made by the Minister this evening in support of his reluctance to accept our amendment could have a detrimental effect on industrial relations in the country. All I can say is that recently I have had the pleasure of reading some sharp views on some aspects of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967, by a man well known to the Minister, Mr. Murphy of the Federation of Rural Workers, who wrote:
Trade union officials will readily agree that the lay-off provisions of the Act put very difficult obstacles in the path of an employee seeking compensation, especially as only the employer is in a position to know when the situation of temporary redundancy is likely to come to an end. When the employer is "unable to provide the work for which the employee was employed to do", the cessation of employment is regarded as a lay-off. There appears to be no limit to the lay-off period unless the employee takes steps to make a claim and gives notice of intention to terminate his employment—and he might need Counsel's advice to ensure that a claim is properly made.
In all probability there are two implied obligations on employers, namely, that the employer who gave the notice of the lay-off should also terminate the lay-off and that the employer should let the laid-off employee know when the lay-off situation comes to an end. It would also seem that the lay-off situation comes to an end when the employer is "able to provide the work for which the employee was employed to do"—but clarification is needed. Be it noted that lay-off is not dismissal.
I submit to the Minister that he is suffering from the fatigue of the battle-scarred Cabinet at this stage because there is a major distinction between lay-off and dismissal and between lay-off and redundancy and unfortunately in the Minister's mind these distinctions have not yet been clarified. In the circumstances we have no option but to ask for a vote on this.
The Committee divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 59.
- Barry, Peter.
- Belton, Luke.
- Belton, Paddy.
- Bruton, John.
- Burke, Joan.
- Burke, Liam.
- Burton, Philip.
- Byrne, Hugh.
- Cluskey, Frank.
- Donnellan, John.
- Dunne, Thomas.
- Enright, Thomas W.
- Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
- Finn, Martin.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
- Flanagan, Oliver J.
- Fox, Billy.
- Governey, Desmond.
- Harte, Patrick D.
- Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
- Jones, Denis F.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Kenny, Henry.
- L'Estrange, Gerald.
- Conlan, John F.
- Coogan, Fintan.
- Corish, Brendan.
- Cosgrave, Liam.
- Coughlan, Stephen.
- Creed, Donal.
- Crotty, Kieran.
- Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
- Desmond, Barry.
- Lynch, Gerard.
- McLaughlin, Joseph.
- McMahon, Lawrence.
- Malone, Patrick.
- O'Donnell, Tom.
- O'Donovan, John.
- O'Hara, Thomas.
- O'Reilly, Paddy.
- O'Sullivan, John L.
- Pattison, Séamus.
- Spring, Dan.
- Taylor, Francis.
- Timmins, Godfrey.
- Tully, James.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Lorcan.
- Andrews, David.
- Brady, Philip A.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Browne, Patrick.
- Browne, Seán.
- Burke, Patrick J.
- Carter, Frank.
- Carty, Michael.
- Childers, Erskine.
- Colley, George.
- Collins, Gerard.
- Connolly, Gerard C.
- Cowen, Bernard.
- Cronin, Jerry.
- Crowley, Flor.
- Cunningham, Liam.
- Davern, Noel.
- Delap, Patrick.
- de Valera, Vivion.
- Dowling, Joe.
- Fahey, Jackie.
- Faulkner, Pádraig.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
- Flanagan, Seán.
- Forde, Paddy.
- French, Seán.
- Gallagher, James.
- Geoghegan, John.
- Gibbons, James.
- Gogan, Richard P.
- Healy, Augustine A.
- Herbert, Michael.
- Hilliard, Michael.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Kenneally, William.
- Kitt, Michael F.
- Lalor, Patrick J.
- Lemass, Noel T.
- Lenihan, Brian.
- Loughnane, William A.
- Lynch, Celia.
- Lynch, John.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- Meaney, Thomas.
- Molloy, Robert.
- Moore, Seán.
- Noonan, Michael.
- O'Connor, Timothy.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- O'Leary, John.
- O'Malley, Des.
- Power, Patrick.
- Sheridan, Joseph.
- Sherwin, Seán.
- Smith, Michael.
- Timmons, Eugene.
- Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Cluskey and Kavanagh; Níl: Deputies Andrews and Meaney.
Amendment declared lost.
I move amendment No. 24a:
In page 9, before the reference to section 12, to insert a reference to section 11 as follows:—
"Section 11—The addition of the following subsection:
‘ ( ) Where by reason of a diminution in the work provided for an employee by his employer (being work of a kind which under his contract the employee is employed to do) the employee's reduced hours of work for any week are less than one half of his normal weekly hours, he shall for the purposes of this Part be taken to be kept on short-time for that week '."
There is no provision made in the existing legislation to define that people in this category are in fact workers on short time. We feel that the inclusion of this subsection would improve the position for the employees concerned. We would ask the Minister to accept the amendment. I am sorry it is at very short notice the Minister has got it but I am quite sure he has had an opportunity of getting advice on it.
It is reasonably explicit as to its aims.
It provides an additional definition. It is already laid down that half his normal weekly remuneration is calculated according to Schedule 3. I should like to have another look at it. I am not opposed to it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 25:
In page 9, before the reference to section 12, to insert a reference to section 11 as follows:
"Section 11—The addition of the following subsection:
( ) ‘ Notice ' in this section means a written notice."
As in the case of all our amendments, this amendment is very simple and easily understood. We are anxious to ensure that there will be no question whatever of an employer being able to say that he gave notice to an employee and, subsequently, the employee being put in a position where he is not sure if he got that notice. This point can be covered by including the words "that the ‘notice' in this section means a written notice". It is a simple matter to give a written notice. We have argued this on another amendment and I suggest that the Minister should not have any difficulty in accepting this amendment.
I am not so happy about the matter. To provide by statute that all notices must be in writing is imposing some difficulty on employers. Probably it is desirable that written notice be given but I am not sure that we should write this into legislation. On amendment No. 19 we argued the wisdom or otherwise of this. The same arguments have been made in this case and I am not happy about writing it into legislation. It is a hazard and I do not think it accomplishes very much in the overall context of this Bill which makes so many provisions for so many things.
Time and again the Appeals Tribunal have had to deal with people who say they gave notice to an employee but did not give written notice. In many cases there are grave doubts as to whether notice was given. People have their own way of expressing certain things. As was evidenced here tonight, we can be very devious if we want to do something and to be able to get out of it afterwards. The unfortunate employee who has been told by the employer to get out of the place and who takes the employer at his word may find that the employer claims he gave him notice to get out. If it suits the employer, he can also say that he did not give notice, that he only said something to the employee in a moment of temper. Whether an employer employs many people or very few, there is no reason why he should not sit down and write out a notice. Even if the employer does not know how to write, I am sure he will not have any difficulty in finding somebody who will write the notice for him.
The unfortunate thing is that there is no other way to guarantee that an employee is sure he has received notice of redundancy. The Department could supply, through their local offices if necessary, very simple forms to which the employer could sign his name or they could publish in the papers a notice setting out how the form should read. In one way it is rather like making a will. Wills have been drafted on rather peculiar pieces of paper and the same applies to notices. It should not be left in doubt whether notice has been given. If the Minister is not prepared to accept the wording of our amendment, we ask him to put in an amendment of his own either on Report Stage or when the Bill is being discussed in the Seanad. We shall be happy if he specifies in some way that written notice must be given. It is the only way by which the person will know if he has been dismissed for reasons of redundancy. It might cover some of the matters we referred to on the previous amendment.
The Deputy speaks about having prescribed forms in the employment offices. We have forms for every conceivable purpose; they are so numerous that I suppose the addition of another one would not be a problem. However, I am thinking of the building industry where people are taken on and laid-off very frequently. Dockers and some other sections also come to mind. It would mean that someone must always be giving those people pieces of paper.
The Minister is not correct. In the building industry in most cases they get termination slips. In most cases it used to be redundancy and the word "redundancy" was put on them.
I am thinking of the case where the quite genuine employee and the genuine employer part company and the work is terminated for a time. If such an employer fails to give the employee this slip of paper he finds himself in trouble although there is nothing deliberate about the fact that he did not give that notice. It is a pity to put a man in the position that the notice must be in writing, particularly when we have made provision for presumption of continuity in redundancy until it is proved otherwise. This is a fundamental safeguard for the employee.
The Minister will appreciate that the only person who is in trouble at the present time is the employee who does not get written notice. He is not sure if he got notice and when he tries to claim redundancy pay the question of whether he got notice arises.
I said on section 19 that I would take a look at it.
Will the Minister include this?
This is practically the same thing.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 26:
In page 9 at the reference to section 12 to delete the proposed amendment and substitute the following:
The deletion of subsection (2) and the substitution of the following:
(2) An employee shall not be entitled to redundancy payment in respect of lay-off or short-time unless either—
(a) he has been laid off or kept on short-time for four or more consecutive weeks, or
(b) 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,
and at any time after the expiry of either of the foregoing periods, as the case may be, he has given a notice in writing of intention to claim, (which for the purposes of this Act shall be deemed to be a notice of intention to terminate his contract of employment) or, he has given a notice in writing of intention to terminate his contract of employment.
We suggest that this will simplify section 12 (2) of the Principal Act, and will reduce the number of claim forms. The Minister was talking a few minutes ago about all the different forms that were available for practically every conceivable purpose. We are offering the Minister an opportunity of reducing the number of forms or at least simplifying the forms that have to be filled. Most of us who are asked from time to time for advice on form filling find the number of irrelevant questions asked a terrible nuisance. Sometimes I think someone sits down and decides to put on the forms every question he can think of which will be difficult to answer. A number of them come to mind with regard to income tax forms or applications for housing loans on which questions, which could not by any stretch of the imagination have anything at all to do with what is being applied for, are included.
I will grant that an effort seems to have been made to keep the number of questions on the redundancy forms down to a minimum, but on one or two of the forms there appear to be more questions than are really necessary. As I said, this is one way by which the number could be reduced. If the Minister thinks this is a good amendment we would like him to accept it. If he does not think it is a good amendment we do not propose to force it to a division.
I am inclined to agree with the Deputy that the general principle of the amendment is to simplify the procedure for persons covered in section 12 of the principal Act—relating to an employee's right to redundancy payment by reason of lay off or short time—but it is a rather complex section. I think, and I am advised too, that consequential changes would be necessary. I should like to be free to bring in an amendment that will cover what Deputies are seeking to do here.
We are trying to be helpful to the Minister. We are prepared to accept that.
I admit that the amendment would eliminate a little of the red tape, if you like.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 27:
In page 9 at the reference to Section 15, to delete the first three lines of the amendments and substitute the following:
"Subsections (1) and (2) shall each have effect as if the words in those subsections preceding paragraph (a) in each case were deleted and the following words substituted:—
‘An employee shall not be entitled to a redundancy payment if—'."
Again, this is a simple drafting amendment. It is easily understood. The Minister may say it is not terribly important. We think it might be helpful and we offer it to the Minister.
This is a drafting change which I presume is intended to clarify the proposed amendment of section 15. My argument is that it is unnecessary. I think it is covered.
In this case we are prepared to accept the Minister's advice.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 28:
In page 9, at the reference to section 15 to delete "two weeks" in the third line and in the proposed new subsection (2A) and substitute "four weeks".
This is more serious. It involves extending the trial period to four weeks. We believe it would be a help.
This is what I would consider one of the most important of the minor details of the amending Bill. This amendment seeks to improve the situation further and make it four weeks. I think two are sufficient.
We do not. Two weeks is a very short time. We believe the amendment is necessary. I do not think the Minister is being fair to himself in simply providing two weeks. He should meet us on this and accept four weeks.
I do not think so. I will have a look at it to see if there is anything to justify it. It is one of the major changes in the minor details of the Bill.
We agree that it is a major change and a major improvement. We do not believe it can possibly be tried on a two weeks period.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Perhaps with amendment No. 29 we could discuss amendment No. 30 which is a related amendment.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 9 at the reference to Section 17 to delete the proposed amendment and substitute the following:
"The insertion in subsection (1) after ‘four years' of the following:
‘(expressed as 104 weeks on the passing of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1971) '."
Amendment No. 30 reads:
In page 10 at the reference to Section 18, to insert after "employment" in each of the new subsections (1) and (2) the following words:
"(on or subsequent to the passing of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1971)."
We want to emphasise the date of the change. If the Minister is not prepared to accept our amendment we are giving him an opportunity to look at it and we propose to re-introduce amendments on Report Stage.
We will not force this to a division but we will be re-introducing amendments on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 30 not moved.
With your permission, Sir, I think amendments Nos. 31 and 32 might be taken together.
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 10, at the reference to Schedule 1 before the proposed amendments to insert the following:
"The substitution in paragraph 1, of ‘two-thirds' for ‘50 per cent'."
Amendment No. 32 reads:
In page 10, at the reference to Schedule 1 before the proposed amendments to insert the following:
"The deletion in paragraph 2, of ‘90 per cent of'."
This requires very little argument because it is a clear amendment and it refers to a question of fact. I am sure that the Minister can understand this quite easily and I will ask him to accept these two amendments.
I am afraid I cannot oblige the Deputy because this is just a straightforward effort at making provision for the amount an employee can receive. It is an improvement on the 90 per cent total that he can receive. This is on an actuarial assessment of what the fund can carry. We have gone as far as is reasonably possible.
I think the Minister is chancing his arm. On the original Bill we were told that the 90 per cent was on an actuarial basis and, as it turned out, within a year and a half there was a profit of £1½ million in the fund. Either the Minister must not be very good at his job or the Minister, who introduced the original Bill, chanced his arm in putting it through this House and got away with a lot more than he should have. We are suggesting that the same thing will happen again.
It would be easy to give us what we are asking for if the Minister was prepared to concede it. He does not want to concede it, not because the actuarial report shows that it is not possible, but because it is easier to say no than to get down to doing a bit of work to find out whether it is possible. If the Minister were prepared to give me figures as to what it would cost I would be prepared to go along with him, but if he will not do that and just says it would cost too much I am not prepared to accept that and in this case we propose to press the amendment.
We are always being told in these Bills that there is an actuarial basis for this or that. Actuaries are the certainty men, the men who never take a chance of any sort. It was a great day in the ESB when the actuaries admitted that the manual workers pensions fund could afford to be more generous. That was a big day. The heavens had opened. In Germany this 50 per cent is never utilised. It is usually 75 per cent or three-quarters and yet no one suggests that the Germans work any the less hard because they take three-quarters where we are inclined to take 50 per cent. That is not so. The Minister comes into the House after a few years and admits that the original calculation on which the principal Act was based was all wrong. Nobody will hold it against any Minister if he comes into the House and says: "We did not know how it would work out." However, when an amendment of this sort is put before the Minister he will have to do a little better than telling us: "The actuarial basis says ‘No'". A fig for the actuarial basis on an issue of this sort. It is not worth tuppence.
I agree there must be a certain amount of conjecture in making an estimate of this kind but there are basic limits which one can see should not be exceeded. One of the things that worry me is that we are putting a strain on the surplus that has accumulated. The Principal Act is in operation only since 1967. It is a rather short time in which to judge trends. We have taken the precaution in time of using the surplus to bring in a very generous amendment. It should be remembered that the contribution of 1s a week and 9d a week for females has not been changed, except for adjustments arising from decimalisation. Wages keep moving up and nobody can accurately estimate the disbursements that will be made from the funds in a given year. However, we can make reasonable estimates that will not too far exceed the surplus or will not be too low having regard to the amount in the surplus. An estimated cost of £450,000 a year could be quite conservative and will depend on how redundancy claims go in the years ahead. I think I could not be pushed much past the 90 per cent.
The Minister is chancing his arm to a greater length than I ever thought I would see a Minister doing.
Let me talk factually for a moment. The Minister is well aware that recently he has made a modest extension in the limit of insurability, from £1,200 to £1,600, and he has brought in an estimated 30,000 people most of them in the higher wage group, the people who do not get sacked. It is the people at the bottom of the ladder who usually get sacked. All these people he has now brought in will be entitled to pay even the modest 1s. and 9d. The Minister is not guaranteeing to us that that contribution will not go up. As things go, I know quite well if the Government want an extra few shillings they will not be very long about deciding that.
I could understand the Minister being worried about the question of the draw on redundancy pay in regard to the large number of close-downs that are occurring. I could understand that he would be worrying about the fact that, with the economy in the state it is in at the present time, he is not saving for the rainy day. The rainy day is here and has been here for the last few months, and the rain is getting heavier. If that is what the Minister is thinking of, for goodness sake, let him say so, but do not let him say the estimate shows something other than we think it does. It would be much better for the Minister to tell us honestly what the position is. Somebody has got to face up to the situation which exists at present if there is to be hope for the economy, hope for the working class of this country. They just cannot continue to be laid off not only from employment but to be laid off completely, after a few months, from the dole as well.
The Minister could quite easily accept both of these amendments and the difference would not be so great as he suggests. If he wants to find extra money, I am quite sure he knows all he has to do is to add on a very small amount, and if he wants to do it for other reasons he will add it on anyway. Maybe that is the reason why he is not terribly anxious about this now. I am disappointed that the Minister is not prepared to accept what we have suggested here this evening.
I agree with my colleague, Deputy Tully, because this Bill was ordered by the Dáil to be printed on 7th July, 1970. The whole climate has changed in the interval. If the Minister came clean, that is assuming there is anything to come clean about, and said to us: "We are in a difficult situation. We do not know how it will go and therefore I cannot accept the amendment" that would be understandable in present circumstances. I am sure the Minister is not the only one who is not sure about the future. I agree with Deputy Tully that if the fund gets into any trouble there is an easy way out of it. I think these two amendments are quite reasonable.
I could not accept the amendment. If anything unprecedented occurred in the matter of claims for redundancy payments in the near future, then we could go for an increase in the contributions, but we are not basing our plans on having to do that. We are going on what we have in the fund and I think we have made a sound estimation of what it is likely to carry. The generous provisions that are provided are sufficient to meet the situation in the time ahead. If at some stage, as could well happen, this good Government could bring about, as it has always done, a tremendous improvement——
——in the economic situation——
The money of the employers and the employees.
——so that a surplus built up, as it has in the past, then we could always have another amending Bill. The Deputy need not have any worry.
You will have very little worry shortly.
I do not want to put the Minister to the trouble of telling us all the good things the Government did nor do I intend to delay the House enumerating all the things they have failed to do. Let me simply say that our reason for putting these amendments in now is this: the original Bill was a big step forward in social legislation, and in less than three years we have an amending Bill. It is only reasonable to suggest that we should not be expected to deal with another amendment in three years' time, and it would be unfair to the Minister's successor to have to be thinking up such an amendment after so short a period. The proper thing to do is, now that the legislation is before the House, to introduce the improvements which are necessary. There is no big reason why this should not be done. I am often amazed at statements made, particularly by Government Ministers who seem to think that it would be a sin if some worker got as much when he was unemployed or ill as he was getting when he was working. It is the same philosophy which was used by the Minister for Health, Deputy Childers, when he was Minister for Transport and Power, in insisting that a retired worker should not be entitled to more than half his wages between social welfare benefits and any State pension or pension from his employer.
The same philosophy seems to be running through this provision. One thing the Minister does not want to do is to give too much to a redundant worker, although he is in a worse position than if he was working because he may be travelling around the place looking for a job and spending more money while looking for a job than when he was actually working. The Government seem to think it would be a terrible crime—a crime against whom I do not know—if these people succeeded in getting as much money while unemployed or redundant as they would get if they were working. It is this mentality, and not reports or anything else, which is preventing the Minister from accepting the amendment. I am afraid if he does not accept the amendment before the House we cannot let the matter go at that.
This is a plain way of saying, "This is a very good Bill. You are improving things generally. We want you to improve them more." The Bill confers tremendous benefits on the workers and is a considerable improvement on the Principal Act of 1967 in that it reduces the qualifying period from four years to two; it improves the redundancy payments, it increases the lump sum payments, it improves the weekly payments; it generally improves the entire qualifying conditions and the actual amounts payable under the Bill. This is an attempt to improve them still further but I think we are doing quite well.
I said earlier that when a person who is redundant is being retrained he should get full wages while being retrained but I cannot agree that a man who is not working should get the same amount of money as a man who is working. I agree with the Minister on this.
I am not surprised at that remark which brings out the difference in approach between the wealthy and those who represent the working class. We are not a bit surprised at the attitude being adopted. We are not a bit surprised that Deputy Belton, who is a very decent man, agrees with Deputy Brennan, who is also a very decent man, provided no one steps on their toes.
I do not care what anybody says, I am firmly convinced that if a man who has been working for many years, who through no fault of his own is declared redundant, is attempting to find work and is travelling hither and thither in that attempt, he is just as entitled to have a week's wages, particularly as the fund can afford it, as the man who is working. He is not looking for something for nothing. The Government from time to time attempt to give the impression that they have a special fund of their own to which they contribute and out of which they withdraw money to distribute to the poor of the country. This is not so. These people are being paid this money out of the contributions made by the employers and workers and there is no question of the Government taking something out of the Government's pocket.
People looking for a job should get the best that can be given to them. The Minister has said this is a wonderful Bill, there are great improvements in it and we want to make it better. What we are saying is that we have been clamouring for this Bill since the last Act was passed. A large number of the things we have asked to be included have been included but an equally large number have been left out. We are now attempting to get the Minister to accept some of the remaining ones and if the Bill goes through without these two amendments being included we feel the Bill will be the worse for it. We are disappointed that that point has not been taken by the Minister.
I should like to return the compliment to Deputy Tully but if a man gets the same money whether he works or does not work he will not work. Why should he work?
I represent a group of workers who very often find themselves unemployed and again and again they come to me and say they would prefer to be working a full week rather than drawing unemployment benefit from the labour exchange. Unless he is a very lazy person a man would prefer to work rather than draw unemployment benefit or assistance. Even those who, because they have a big family, get almost as much when they are unemployed as when they work prefer to work. I do not think it is fair to say that anybody who gets full wages for a period will remain unemployed.
I had a case last week of a man who was drawing in unemployment and redundancy pay within ten shillings of what he would have drawn if he had been working and he asked if I could recommend him for a job because he would prefer to be working. I got him a job but I also pointed out that he did not have to take it because he could continue for the balance of 20 weeks to draw almost as much as he would earn but he said that he was tired knocking around at home and would much prefer to be working. That is the attitude of genuine workers and I feel it would be unfair not to put that on the record of the House.
I do not think the Minister is being fair to us. The Minister has not said that experience over the last six months has shown that the fund has been seriously reduced in amount. There has been a serious period of redundancy over the last six months and the Minister and his Department should have plenty of information which would indicate whether or not these two amendments, if accepted, are likely to create trouble for the fund. In other walks of life men are paid as much when they are not working as when they are working and this is put into their contracts. There is no reason why a man cannot be paid nearly as much when he is not working as when he is working.
The Minister talked earlier about "notice" but in most worthwhile organisations a week's notice is normal and very rapidly it will be a month's notice for both manual and clerical workers or whatever period is involved. If the Minister can prove that this would be too great a strain on the fund we would be quite prepared to listen to him.
I have said that I am afraid we would be putting too great a strain on the Fund. Despite the estimates with regard to the cost of this we must keep within safe limits. If the strain on the Fund is too great we would have to increase the contributions. The principle of allowing a worker who is unemployed to draw the equivalent of 100 per cent of his earnings when working is one that should not be conceded.
One thing I said earlier which I should like to correct is that I said that an amending Bill could be brought in if further benefit improvements were possible because the Fund was found to be in surplus. In fact, however, it would not be necessary, in order to raise the rates of benefits to bring in an amending Bill. The Minister has power to vary Schedules I and III by order to provide for increased rates for lump sum and weekly payments and amending legislation would not, therefore, be necessary if, at any time it was found possible to increase the rates.
Can the percentage be increased without amending legislation?
There is power in the Bill to do that.
The rates can be increased all right but that is not the percentage of the wages. Can the percentage of the wages be increased?
No, it is a different thing altogether.
I do not think it can, to be quite frank.
I am quite sure it cannot.
The rates can definitely be increased.
The rates increase automatically with the increases in wages We know quite well that legislation is not necessary to increase them. We are looking for a different thing altogether and apparently the Minister is not prepared to agree to it. Before we put down these amendments we prepared for some time. We have put down several questions to the Minister who always gives us plenty of information in his answers. It is only fair that we should use this information now because the Minister may not have it with him. In Question No. 98 of 9th February, 1971, I asked the Minister for Labour:
the estimated net cost over the existing redundancy payments scheme of (a) relating the lump-sum to twice weekly pay under age 41, (b) relating the lump-sum to twice weekly pay over age 41 and (c) relating the lump sum to 1½ weekly pay over age 41 (with a lump-sum limit in each case of 30 weeks).
The figures were £700,000, £420,000 and £280,000. The Minister went on to say:
About 60 per cent of each amount would be borne by the redundancy fund.
I have a further pile of information which I do not propose to use now, except the answer to Question No. 153 of 2nd February, 1971, which gives the estimated annual cost to the redundancy fund of improvements in redundancy benefits as follows:
Extending the scope of the Act to cover workers for four years after they cease to be insurable under the Social Welfare Acts—£45,000; Reduction in the qualifying period from 208 to 104 weeks—£140,000—providing for a minimum of four weekly payments is included in the same figure; Reducing the waiting period for weekly redundancy payments from two weeks to three days— slight; Allowing each year of service over 41 years of age to count for two weekly payments instead of 1½ as heretofore—£50,000——
That figure should read £100,000.
I am only quoting the information the Minister gave me. If the Minister has since discovered that the figure is £100,000 he has not informed me and I suggest he should have done so.
Providing for an extra week's pay for each qualified redundant worker —£45,000; Increasing the maximum lump sum from the equivalent of 20 weeks' pay to 30 weeks' pay, the fund to bear the full cost of the lump sum over the 20 week equivalent— £80,000.
This totals £360,000 and the £50,000 the Minister has just mentioned makes it £410,000. This is a relatively small sum of extra money. The fund over a period of less than two years has built up a reserve of £1¾ million. What I am trying to point out to the Minister is that on the existing insurable limit, and with the extra limit, the people who do not normally become redundant will not be claiming on the fund. Why the Minister does not take the limit off altogether is something I cannot understand because, in my opinion, the higher you go all you get is subs from them. In most cases they will be people who will very seldom draw benefit at all because it would be embarrassing for them to do so. The Minister would, in fact, be building up a tremendous fund. The Minister is making a grave mistake in penny pinching in this way.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 32 not moved.
Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 are related and they can be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 33:
In page 10, at the reference to Schedule 1 before the proposed amendments to insert:
The insertion before paragraph 4 of the following new paragraph:
3A. A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person entitled thereto until the expiration of two weeks (reduced to 3 days as and from the date of the passing of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1971) beginning on the date of the termination of his employment and shall not be paid in respect of that two-week (or three-day) period, as the case may be.
The related amendment, amendment No. 34, reads:
In page 10, at the reference to Schedule 1, to delete the proposed new paragraph 4 and substitute the following:
4. A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person entitled thereto until the expiration of the period of 3 days beginning on the date of the termination of his employment and shall not be paid in respect of that 3-day period.
This emphasises the reduced waiting period which takes effect on the passing of the Act and retains the effective adjudication in the hands of the Tribunal instead of in the social welfare system. This is important and I would ask the Minister to make his comments on it now because I am sure he has views on it.
I do not think anything the Deputy has said so far would justify my acceptance of the amendment. The reduction in the waiting period for redundancy weekly payments is designed to bring into line with the waiting period for social welfare payments and this represents a substantial improvement in the Bill. It is the same principle as the one applying to the two-thirds and the 90 per cent. This is a considerable improvement. The amendment seeks to still further improve the position. The terms of the Bill are generous and I could not accept this amendment.
It has been said time and time again that the man put in charge of public moneys is a man who is generous with his own money. The Minister is talking this evening like a man who is a veritable Scrooge with his own money. No doubt that is not the case at all.
He has never bought me a drink.
What the Minister said in the last couple of minutes is gross exaggeration. There is no question about that. He exaggerates the effect of putting this into the Bill. Coming events cast their shadows before and the traumatic experience in the last fortnight may have affected his approach. I do not say it has, but it may have. It seems to me he is concerned about minutiae here at times. We got the figures of what this would cost. If my recollection is right, it would cost about £80,000. It is no use the Minister cavilling about a fund in which there is, as Deputy Belton said, a surplus of £1,750,000. The Minister will not even give us an odd quarter of a million or even £100,000 of this fund. But the figure is less than £100,000; it is £80,000. People are wasting their time here working on Bills and putting down considered amendments when all they meet with is stonewall opposition of this sort. It is no use the Minister telling me that all wisdom is to be found in his Department. That is, in fact, what he has been telling us for the last few hours: all wisdom is to be found in his Department and there is no wisdom anywhere else.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 34 not moved.
I move amendment No. 35:
In pages 10 and 11 to delete the last entry opposite Schedule 1.
Here we have something which must be dealt with by the Minister. Here an effort is being made by somebody in the Minister's Department to try to introduce Social Welfare conditions to the Redundancy Payments Bill. The proposed new paragraph 15, page 10, is unnecessary. A similar proposal was deleted from the 1967 Act. Obviously the fellow who put it in and had to take it out is still hanging round the Department or some of his disciples are still there and decided that they could not get away with this in 1967 but would try it again. Title to redundancy payments should not depend on social welfare rules or social welfare adjudicators and we will fight this tooth and nail. The entry opposite Schedule 1 is:
The substitution for paragraph 4 of the following:
"4. A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person otherwise entitled thereto for any period during which that person is, by virtue of section 15 (2) of the Act of 1952, disentitled to disability benefit or unemployment benefit.".
The substitution for paragraph 5 of the following:
"5. (a) A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person in respect of any period unless during that period the person was not gainfully employed and the fact that he was not so employed could not reasonably be attributed to the person's own failure or refusal to seek or accept or continue in suitable gainful employment.
(b) A person who is entitled to and in receipt of unemployment benefit or disability benefit under the Social Welfare Acts, 1952 to 1970, may be deemed to be not gainfully employed for the purposes of this paragraph.".
The insertion in paragraph 6 after "redundancy" of "or by whom he was employed when he terminated his contract of employment under section 12; provided that he shall, subject to paragraph 5, in every case be entitled to receive not less than four weekly payments".
The substitution for paragraph 7 of the following:
"7. In calculating years of continuous employment for the purposes of paragraph 6 in relation to a person whose employment is terminated after the commencement of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1971, each period of one year during the whole of which the person entitled to the weekly payment was 41 years of age or older shall be reckoned as two completed years of continuous employment.".
We suggest in pages 10 and 11 to delete the last entry opposite Schedule 1. The whole idea of redundancy payments is being attacked by the attempt to bring them under social welfare conditions. I suggest that whatever the Minister does he can never claim to have improved redundancy payments if he includes in a Bill under his name a provision supporting those who have been responsible for throwing so many people off disability benefit. For instance, people whom their own doctors say are unfit for work are declared not unfit for work by a referee of the Minister's Department. Today I had a letter from a man who has been suffering from arthritis and chest trouble for four years. He has a wife and two children to support. Some fellow drove down from Dublin to the town of Navan to look at him and decided that he was not unfit for work. His local doctor tells him that he is unfit for work. I do not think there is anybody in the country who would give him a job. The man is hardly able to walk. For several weeks, while an appeal is being heard, that unfortunate man and his family can be hungry as far as the Department of Social Welfare are concerned.
What the Minister wants to do now is to include in the Redundancy Payments Bill a section which will allow those same people to adjudicate on people who apply for redundancy compensation. We do not want that and I would appeal to the Minister to use his commonsense and to take this out completely.
Surely the Deputy is not seriously contending that the provisions of this proposed amendment should be applied to persons directly involved in a trade dispute? The State should be neutral and to use money contributed for this purpose of redundancy compensation to subsidise one party as against another is a principle I could not concede. This Bill cannot be all give and no take. I am not prepared to concede this principle and I do not think the Deputy is seriously contending that persons directly involved in a trade dispute should be paid out of the redundancy fund.
The Minister unfortunately was not listening. I am contending that a proposal similar to that contained in paragraph 15, page 10, was included in the original Bill and was deleted. Can the Minister tell me why he now considers it necessary to include it in this Bill? It was included as proposed rule 5. Why does he now consider it necessary to include in this Bill something which was in the previous Bill and was deleted? What has happened in the meantime which has persuaded the Minister to introduce it?
I made the case in as few words as possible. I do not think it would be correct that workers involved in an industrial dispute should be qualified to receive payments from the redundancy fund.
There are two different sections. In one you have included that title to redundancy payment should not depend on social welfare rules or social welfare adjudication. The Minister should agree with that. What has happened since that the Minister now wants to have put in something which was accepted as being wrong before? The Minister very glibly says he does not want anybody involved in a trade dispute to receive payments from the fund. The Minister is as well aware as I am that from time to time trade disputes have occurred and people who by no stretch of imagination could be considered to be involved in the trade dispute are unemployed. The cement strike last year is an example, where we had the Department of Social Welfare saying: "We cannot pay these people because of the fact that there is a dispute." The dispute is not at their place of employment and yet the Department have ruled that they are ineligible. The people in the Department who do not seem to be aware of what is happening in the country make the rules. I described what happened to the man who was sick. These people make the rules and expect them to be accepted. We have had again and again trade disputes where people are involved and are in receipt of strike pay and other people who are not involved in the dispute and therefore not in receipt of strike pay, yet the Department of Social Welfare will rule that some of these people are in fact involved in the dispute and will leave them depending on charity. Some of them have been depending on collections of fellow workers while the Department of Social Welfare have been in receipt of contributions over the years, have made no objection and have said that if they needed help they would not get it. This is the same idea again. Paragraph 15 (3) sets out:
Subparagraph (1) shall not apply to a person who—
(a) is not participating in or financing or directly interested in the trade dispute which caused the stoppage of work, and
(b) does not belong to a grade or class of workers of which, immediately before the commencement of the stoppage, there were members employed at his place of employment any of whom are participating in or financing or directly interested in the dispute.
(4) In this paragraph ‘trade dispute' means any dispute between employers and employees, or between employees and employees, which is connected with the employment of non-employment or the terms of employment or the conditions of employment of any persons, whether employees in the employment of the employer with whom the dispute arises or not.".
They go to great trouble to define those who will not be affected but when you revert to paragraph 15 (1) you find the insertion after paragraph 14 of the following:
A person who has lost employment by reason of a stoppage of work which was due to a trade dispute at the factory, workshop, farm or other premises or place at which he was employed shall not be entitled to a weekly payment so long as the stoppage of work continues, except, subject to paragraph 5, in a case where he has, during the stoppage of work, becomesbona fide employed elsewhere in the occupation which he usually follows or has become regularly engaged in some other occupation.
The Minister knows that the cement dispute had a countrywide effect and the Department of Social Welfare declared that the people affected were involved in a trade dispute and consequently they were unable to get benefits.
I am prepared to admit this is the procedure laid down in social welfare legislation but I still argue that whatever else we may provide in the Bill one cannot go so far as to subsidise trade dispute by payments out of the redundancy fund.
Would the Minister say why it was taken out of the Bill the last time?
I did not bring in that Bill but experience probably showed that there was a case in which it was out of line with social welfare legislation.
I cannot understand this piece of logic, or illogic. It was in the Bill when introduced and it was taken out and the Minister says it was not in line with social welfare legislation. If it was not in line then how can it be in line now. I do not think the Minister is seriously considering these amendments. Deputy Tully is quite right. Many people were put out of employment last year by the cement strike but those people had nothing to do with the firm of Cement Limited. This redundancy fund is not by a long stretch of the imagination the same as social welfare benefit.
Amendment put and declared lost.
I move amendment No. 36:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, before the proposed amendments to insert:
The deletion of "one-half of" in paragraph (a).
Amendments Nos. 36 and 37 may be discussed together.
These provide for an increased lump sum. Again, I leave it to the Minister to say whether he will accept it and if not why not.
I am sorry, but again I have the same argument. I went as far as I thought it was reasonably permissible to go having regard to the amount in the fund. What we are providing here represents very generous improvements on the old Act.
But for the answers the Minister gave me last February I might be inclined to agree. We are not prepared to agree now, however, that the Minister is as generous with State funds as he is with his own.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 37 not moved.
I move amendment No. 38:
In page 11, to delete the fourth amendment of Schedule 3 and substitute the following:
The deletion of paragraph 2.
Before Deputy Tully speaks, this proposes to abolish the limit altogether for the calculation of the lump sum. I think I would take a chance here in the interests of those who are continuously employed, who have a long record of employment. They are the type of people I am really anxious to help and I should like to apply the Bill accordingly. I am prepared to abolish the limit. It may not be the same wording as the Deputy's amendment.
In which way would the Minister require to alter the wording? I have had experience during the debate on the last Bill of his predecessor saying exactly the same thing but eventually coming back with the same wording exactly and saying that he had been able to amend the Act. If a change in the wording is not necessary, let us not be childish about it.
I will have a look at this. I am accepting the principle fully and if the wording needs further changing I will do it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 39 not moved.
I move amendment No. 40:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, after the proposed amendment to paragraph 2 to insert:
The substitution of the word "employment" for "service" where that word occurs in paragraph 3.
This is a very important amendment, although it is for clarification only. We prefer the word "employment" to "service". The same goes for amendment No. 41. There is a difference and I am sure the Minister appreciates what it is.
The amendments are of a drafting nature. I do not think it would be appropriate to substitute the word "employment" for "service" in the one place in which the word "service" occurs in paragraph 3 of the Schedule. In my opinion the substitution of the word "employment" for "service" would only be appropriate in one instance. The Deputy can look at the wording which is specifically dealt with at amendment No. 41 and I am prepared to amend it there. This is purely drafting.
We had 157 amendments in the Occupational Injuries Bill about the words "accidental injuries" and the argument we were making was that a bus conductor, for instance, going to a rougher district of the city might incur an injury which would not be accidental. The Minister's predecessor did not accept it, but he agreed that he would bend the law in such a way that the bus conductor would be covered.
Does the Minister accept amendment No. 40?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 41:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, before the amendments to paragraph 5, to insert:
"The substitution in paragraph 5 (1) of ‘employment' for ‘service' where it first occurs."
Is amendment No. 41 agreed?
Yes. Where the word appears in amendment No. 41 I am prepared to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 42:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, before the amendments to paragraph 5, to insert:
The substitution in paragraph 5 (1) of "is or was" for "had been".
This harmonises with the new paragraph 6 of Schedule 3.
This is a drafting matter. I must depend on the draftsman's opinion here. I will seek the draftsman's opinion on this.
Is amendment No. 42 withdrawn?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 43:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, before the amendments to paragraph 5, to insert:
The deletion in paragraph 5 (1) (a) of "78 consecutive weeks" and the substitution of "104 consecutive weeks".
This is simply to extend the period of absence due to disability which may be bridged between employment termination and when, subsequently, employment is resumed. I think it is a reasonable time. We believe that the period of 78 weeks, whilst an improvement is not enough. We believe it should run, as was done on a previous occasion, to 104 weeks, which is two years. I feel that this period could be included and it would be a very useful amendment. It may not apply to many people but to those who have been in employment for a long number of years and who have been seriously ill and who may require two years before they are able to resume work. We feel it is only fair, since the Minister has expressed the opinion that he would like to help the long-service employee, that we should point out that this is where he could help them by accepting amendment No. 43.
This is on amendment No. 42.
The proposal is an extension from 78 to 104 consecutive weeks. This is the same story as before, where an effort is being made to try to improve on what I already think is a very good optimum. The 78 weeks' period is sufficient. I am not aware of any cases in which this period could cause hardship.
The Minister is not aware of people who have been out of employment for two years due to serious illness and who have resumed. It makes little difference with regard to the fund. The Minister might be generous. It is not costing anything.
Seventy-eight weeks is a reasonable time.
A period of 104 weeks is mentioned in other places in the Bill.
I do not know, but it is an argument in relation to something else. There must be a balance between the thinking of the people representing various interests as to what is to be regarded as reasonable. We have sought and got the views of different interests in relation to the legislation in the first instance.
Would the Minister split the difference?
We already have what I thought was reasonable. The orientation of the Bill cannot be questioned.
I would not think much of the employers who thought that the long-service employee should be cut off because of 26 weeks' illness. There would not be much opposition to the 104 weeks. The Minister might reconsider this.
It is simple enough to have a look at this. We can see whether this is inimical to the general spirit of the legislation.
Will the Minister reconsider amendment No. 43?
I will have a look at it, but I will make no promises.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 44:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3 of the Principal Act, in the line after "an injury)", to insert:
The deletion in paragraph 5 (1) (b) of "26 consecutive weeks" and the substitution of "52 consecutive weeks".
I made this argument on the previous Bill. It was not listened to. This extends the period of absence which may be bridged if the employment is terminated. The 26 weeks would not bridge the gap between the 17th May, 1967 and the 1st January, 1968. If this had been done, as I suggested at the time, many people would have been included who were subsequently disallowed following the passing of the Bill into an Act. I would suggest to the Minister that if for no other reason than this was missed out previously he should this time make sure that it is well-covered and increase the 26 to 52 consecutive weeks.
I have no record of any hard-luck cases under the 26-week period. The same argument as in the previous amendment applies.
I was not aware that the Minister was looking for hard-luck cases or I would have brought in many examples to him today.
Past experience is helpful in amending legislation and the 26-week period is adequate.
I do not think it is at all adequate.
Amendment put and declared lost.
I move amendment No. 45:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3 of the Principal Act, in the line after "Reserve Defence Force", to insert:
The insertion in paragraph 5 (1) (b) (i) of "or dismissal" after "lay-off".
This puts casual workers who are actually formally dismissed on the same basis as other employees. It also applies to seasonal workers. I believe that it should be acceptable to the Minister.
I do not really think it does anything. I could not accept it. It would be inconsistent with the attitude in relation to other amendments which we have already refused to accept.
I did not think the Minister was refusing to accept them. I thought he was going to consider them.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 46 not moved.
I move amendment No. 47:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3, to insert in the proposed new paragraph 6, after "undertaking" where it first occurs, "(or the control or management thereof or the control or management of the employee or the take-over of the employee)"
This extends the new paragraph 6 to change the control of the undertaking. It is an important amendment and the Minister should be very careful before he decides to reject this one.
I am prepared to consult the draftsman and bring in an amendment on the Report Stage.
When the Minister is consulting with the draftsman he should have particular care given to the case of No. 37 of 1970. The Minister will find there is a good precedent in that regard.
I hope the Deputy is not suggesting that I make something retrospective. He is only suggesting that we get guidance from what happened in the case.
There is the question of the take-over of the employee.
I will have a look at that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 48:
In page 11, at the reference to Schedule 3 of the Principal Act, after the proposed amendment of paragraph 6, to insert:
The insertion after paragraph 6 of the following new paragraphs:
6A. If an employee's employment is interrupted (including voluntarily leaving the employment and the employee resumes employment at the employer's request, or with the employer's consent within 52 weeks, continuity of employment shall not be broken by such interruption.
6B. Where before or after 1st January, 1968, an employee is or was indirectly employed or engaged by an employer (through an agency, contract or otherwise) and subsequently that employee became employed directly by that employer, that employee's employment shall be deemed to be continuous.
6C. For the purposes of this Schedule employment at the same place of employment with successive employers shall be taken to be continuous, unless the employee voluntarily leaves the employment.
6D. For the purposes of this Schedule a "take-over" of an employee by an employer shall not break continuity of employment.
This protects, for example, women who voluntarily leave to get married and employees who are invited back and when a change in management occurs the new management may plead that the person had voluntarily left the employment and so broke continuity of employment. There is inadequate provision where the employee and not the business is taken over. The Minister appreciates the difference that the employee may be taken over but the business may not. The tribunal decisions 37/70, 101/69, 334/69, 70/70, 133/68, 134/68, 13/70, 420 and 42369 are all relevant to this and show that this is a big bone of contention in existing legislation and an effort should be made to try to deal with it now. The Minister I am sure appreciates the fact that cases which keep recurring before a tribunal hold up the work of the tribunal. When legislation is going through the House an effort should be made to try to ensure that those cases can be dealt with so that in future there will be no necessity to refer them to the tribunal and save everybody's time and indeed money. I suggest this is one amendment which the Minister should find it very easy to accept and it will improve the legislation.
The Deputy is presuming too much here. I should like to deal with each part of this amendment separately. The first part, 6A, to which Deputy Tully has just referred, seeks to provide that an employee's continuity of employment with a particular employer is not broken by an interruption nor is employment for any reason whatsoever provided he resumes employment with the same employer within 52 weeks from the date his interruption commenced. I am totally opposed to that.
Do not forget the proviso "at the employer's request".
There is usually a certain amount of agreement. The proposals in the amendment could be a barrier towards resuming employment as well as a benefit.
It is up to the employer.
The second part 6B, is related to amendment 10 which we have already discussed, asking the employer to take on a liability. The Deputy may not have been in the House earlier when we discussed amendment 10. This is a repetition of the same argument and it would be inconsistent with our decision in that case. I could not accept it.
The third part of the proposed amendment, 6C, is most objectionable in principle. Its acceptance could in effect mean that an employer who buys a business premises and re-employs workers who have worked with a previous owner, possibly not even in the same line of business, would be obliged to accept responsibility for that previous employment despite the fact he may have had no connection at all with the previous owners.
I cannot visualise circumstances, unless very extreme exceptional cases, where this would be necessary. As I said before on amendment 10, this proposal could act as a deterrent to the re-employment of people. The Deputy must admit this.
The fourth part of the amendment, 6D, could also have wide implications, as I said in relation to the other one. I am not sure that I know what the Deputy has in mind here.
The Minister may be aware that a number of firms may close together and an employer may switch an employee from one firm and may take over the employee or a number of employees and employ them. By doing so they lose continuity of employment for redundancy purposes. If the employer does this and he knows it will affect their redundancy claim there is no reason why he should not be responsible for that redundancy claim.
Surely this is covered in other sections?
If the employee has not been paid redundancy he is normally entitled to retain continuity of service. If he is paid a lump sum he breaks his continuity.
The Minister is thinking of 6C, where it is stated that for the purposes of the Schedule employment at the same place of employment with successive employers shall be taken to be continuous, unless the employee voluntarily leaves the employment. 6D is different, where it is the employee and not the job that is taken over by a different firm. A firm may take over the employees but may not take over the place of employment; in fact, it may take the employees out of it. This happens from time to time.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.