Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (1057)

Maurice Quinlivan


1057. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the motion passed by Dáil Éireann on 17 October 2019 condemning the decision not to increase the minimum wage and calling for the introduction of a living wage of €12.30 per hour to be introduced in 2020; her plans to act on this motion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44690/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I am aware of the Motion the Deputy has referred to. The Deputy will also be aware that the principal function of the Low Pay Commission is, once each year, to examine the national minimum hourly rate of pay and to make a recommendation regarding the rate, ensuring that all decisions are evidence-based, fair and sustainable, and do not create significant adverse consequences for employment or competitiveness.

In developing its recommendation this year, the Low Pay Commission assessed various economic indicators such as changes in earnings, exchange rates, employment, unemployment, productivity, international minimum wage comparisons, the need for job creation and the likely impact of the National Minimum Wage changes on levels of employment, cost of living, and national competitiveness.

Numerous economic commentators, both in Ireland and overseas, have highlighted that any form of Brexit has the potential to impact negatively on the Irish economy. Accordingly, although the Low Pay Commission recommended an increase in the national minimum wage of 30c to €10.10, it did so on the assumption of an orderly Brexit, and acknowledged that the Government might wish to reserve its position in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

The Government accepted the recommendation of the Commission in its entirety but decided to defer a decision on when the Commission’s recommendation will commence until the nature of the Brexit becomes clearer.

I intend, therefore, to make provision in the Social Welfare Budget Bill to allow me to give effect to the National Minimum Wage in respect of 2020, in line with the Commission's proposals, once the situation in respect of Brexit is clarified.

It is important that Ireland’s statutory National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage concept are not conflated. The Living Wage is a voluntary societal initiative centred on the social, business and economic case to ensure that, wherever it can be afforded, employers will pay a rate of pay that provides an income that is sufficient to meet an individual’s basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare.

As a voluntary initiative, the Living Wage has no legislative basis and confers no statutory entitlement. The National Minimum Wage, on the other hand, has a legislative basis and confers a statutory entitlement on employees, and a statutory obligation on employers.