Legislation governing the national minimum wage is set down in the National Minimum Wage Acts 2000 and 2015. These Acts provide for the setting of a national minimum wage (NMW) and also provide that in specified circumstances, such as younger workers and trainees, a reduced, sub-minimum rate may be applied.
In September 2015, the Low Pay Commission was requested to examine the appropriateness of the subminimum rates as provided for in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 with regard, in particular, to their impact on youth unemployment rates and participation in education.
The Commission undertook a consultation process on this subject in line with its evidence-based approach to making recommendations to Government. The consultation process was advertised nationally seeking submissions from interested parties; and the Commission sent a targeted email to a variety of interested parties seeking submissions, including the Irish Hairdressing Federation.
I understand that a number of further contacts were made with the Federation, both telephone and email, inviting the Federation to make a submission on this matter and to participate in the oral hearings to discuss the subject held by the Commission in February 2016.
The Commission received 15 submissions in total, none of which came from the hairdressing sector. The Irish Hairdressing Federation did not make a submission and did not participate in the oral hearings held by the Commission.
The Commission's final report was published in February 2018. (The Commission’s interim report in 2016 did not make recommendations, pending the availability of evidence as to the numbers in receipt of the sub-minima rates, which only became available in late 2017.)
Having examined all available evidence and the submissions received, and considered a range of options, the Commission recommended the abolition of training rates and the simplification of the age-based rates. The rationale for the Commission’s recommendations is set out in its reports, which are available at www.lowpaycommission.ie.
The Low Pay Commission is an independent, authoritative body on matters relating to the national minimum wage and I am confident that the Commission gave consideration to the impact of any recommendations it made in regard to training rates.
The Commission’s recommendations were accepted by Government and the amendments to make the necessary legislative changes to the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 were implemented via the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018. In the passage of the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas I set out the rationale for the changes, and the proposed measures received cross-party approval and were accepted without amendment. The changes came into effect on 4 March 2019.
My powers under the legislation regarding the adjustment of rates depending on labour market conditions are related solely to the setting of the appropriate percentage to be applied in the case of the age-based rates.