I am informed that two workers associated with the film industry have applied to the Scope Section of my Department for a decision in relation to their employment status. These cases are currently with Social Welfare Inspectors for investigation. It should be noted that any individual who wishes to have a decision made on their employment status should apply directly to Scope Section.
The Deputy may wish to note that the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Workers) Act 2003 is applicable to every industry that uses fixed-term contracts. That legislation provides for the improvement of the quality of fixed-term work by ensuring the application of the principle of non-discrimination, that is, that fixed-term workers cannot be treated less favourably than comparable permanent workers.
The Act also provides for the removal of discrimination against fixed-term workers where such exists and the establishment of a framework to prevent abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts in order to suit employers.
Where individuals believe they are being deprived of employment rights under this or any other relevant Act, they may refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission where the matter can be dealt with by way of mediation or adjudication leading to a decision that is enforceable through the District Court. WRC inspectors can also be asked to investigate breaches of the legislation or complaints arising. Individuals can submit complaints online.
As the Deputy may be aware, the WRC is conducting an audit of the film and television sector which will, inter alia, examine employment practices and procedures. As part of this audit, the WRC undertook an open consultation process inviting submissions from interested parties. I await the results and any recommendations of this audit.
I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.