Written Answers. - Protection for Workers.

Richard Bruton

Question:

181 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to practices, particularly in the building industry, whereby ordinary employees are put on a contract which denies them rights to pension, social welfare rights, holiday pay and other benefits; his views on the provisions that apply in other countries which might appropriately be introduced in Ireland in order to provide some protection to such workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1158/94]

I am aware of recent controversy in relation to issues raised by the increasing shift to self-employment in the construction industry through the use of the C2/C45 system. As Minister for Social Welfare, I am concerned that moves from employed to self-employed status should be genuine and not simply devices to avoid the payment of employers' social insurance contributions thus leaving workers without vital social welfare cover when, in reality, the employer-employee relationship is still in existence. The whole question of determining between employee and self-employed status is a complex one and is surrounded by a considerable body of case law. Deciding officers of my Department decide on these matters on a case-by-case basis taking into account previous interpretations of the courts on the nature of employment.

The Black Economy Monitoring Group under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work has completed a review of the operation of the C45 scheme including recommendations on action to curb any abuse and to improve the scheme generally. The implications of that review in so far as my Department is concerned are currently under examination.