The Task Force on Small Business undertook a comprehensive examination of all factors relating to and impinging on the development of the small business sector. The task force examined administrative burdens faced by small business and, in this context, issued a number of recommendations in the area of labour legislation.
These recommendations cover health and safety, insurance costs, unfair dismissals, part-time worker protection and payment of wages legislation. The task force also examined the EU Directive on the Organisation of Working Time which is due to be implemented in November 1996.
The main recommendations relating to health and safety has been implemented by the issuing recently of a model simplified safety statement for small business by the Health and Safety Authority. The suggested reinforcement of a duty of care on employees has, in fact, existed since the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989. The three recommendations which address the EU Directive on the Organisation of Working Time are being examined in the context of the transposition of this measure into Irish law.
The remaining recommendations address existing legislation which has offered valuable basic statutory protection to employees. A two tier approach to employee rights based on the size of their employers' business would not be helpful.
In negotiating future employment rights legislation at EU level, Ireland adopts a balanced approach and is concerned to ensure that the detail of legislation is framed in a way which will support employment and avoid red tape while ensuring basic standards of social protection.