Thursday, 1 July 2021

Questions (154)

Joan Collins

Question:

154. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has initiated the process to amend the Workplace Relations Act 2015 given the publication by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands of its report on the Examination of Bogus Self-Employment report on 16 June 2021 (details supplied). [35332/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I note the publication of the June 2021 'Report - Examination of Bogus Self-Employment' and the recommendations therein of the Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development, and the Islands.

The Deputy seems to be referring to Recommendation 12 of that report, which states:

"12. The Committee recommends that the period for employers to pay backdated PRSI contributions that they previously avoided is increased from six months to six years. That would mean that the Workplace Relations Act 2015 be amended to allow adjudication officers and the Labour Court consider breaches of employment enactments for up to 6 years rather than the generally 6 months."

The Report's explanatory text to that recommendation reads:

"The Committee is of the opinion that the above recommendations would act as deterrents to employers misclassifying individuals as self-employed. However, the Committee also acknowledges that these changes would not necessarily make it easier for an individual to request an employment status classification from the scope section, especially without personal support. The Committee is of the opinion the opinion [sic.] that that [sic.] workers can best progress their right [sic.] under employment and social welfare legislation by exercising their constitutional right to become a member of a trade union."

The intent and meaning of this particular recommendation is not understood. My officials inform me that PRSI arrears are in fact assessed by my Department without any limitation on retrospection. Furthermore, I'm informed that the Workplace Relations Act does not govern the collection of PRSI.

My officials would of course welcome any clarification from the Committee on what this recommendation means and what the Committee hopes it would achieve. It should be noted, however, that if the Committee indeed has in mind an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act and a recommendation that is relevant to the Labour Court, such recommendation should instead be directed to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who has responsibility for employment rights, industrial relations and the apparatus that supports both.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.