Committee on Finance. - Shop Assistants (Conditions of Employment) (No. 2) Bill, 1937—Committee.
(1) This Act may be cited as the Shop Assistants (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1937.
On behalf of Deputy Norton, I move amendment No. 1:—
In sub-section (1), line 19, to delete the words "Shop Assistants" and substitute "Shops."
This amendment deals with the title of the Bill. Since 1892, various shop measures have been passed and all these are described as "Shops Acts" and not "Shop Assistants Acts." The Minister will recognise that while the term "Shop Assistants" is used in the title of the Bill it is not defined in any part, of the Bill and it is, presumably, intended that the conditions laid down in the Bill will govern various classes of people working in and about shops not all of whom could be described as "shop assistants," as that term is ordinarily understood. It appears to me that the title Shops (Conditions of Employment) Bill would be more appropriate than the title Shop Assistants (Conditions of Employment) Bill. In a number of the sections of the Bill, reference is made to people engaged in various ways, in serving customers and in packing goods. Some of these people are not ordinarily known as "shop assistants," and the title I have suggested would be more appropriate than that used in connection with the Bill. It would also avoid any confusion as to the application of the Bill.
I do not think it makes the slightest difference whether we call this measure the "Shops Bill" or the "Shop Assistants Bill," nor do I think that it will affect its scope or operation. If there is any strong feeling amongst Deputies, I am prepared to accept the amendment.
People will be affected by the Bill who are not ordinarily known as shop assistants and, in these circumstances, I suggest that "Shops Bill" would be the more appropriate title.
If this amendment be accepted as it stands, the title will be ungrammatical. It would read "Shops (Conditions of Employment) Bill." To make it grammatical, you would have to add the word "in" after the word "Employment." You do not employ shops.
I can quote to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney the example of the other Bill, "Shops (Hours of Trading) Bill." The word "in" is not inserted after the word "Trading."
Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney can have the word "in" if he likes.
I am merely on the side of good grammar.
Amendment agreed to.
Section, as amended, agreed to.
(1) In this Act—
the expression "the Minister" means the Minister for Industry and Commerce;
the expression "retail trade or business" includes the business of a barber or hairdresser, the business of a dyer or cleaner, the business of the lending for reward of books or periodicals, the business of a pawnbroker, the sale of refreshments or intoxicating liquors, and retail sales by auction, but does not include the sale of programmes and catalogues and other similar sales at theatres and places of amusement;
the expression "wholesale shop" means any premises occupied by a wholesale dealer or merchant where goods are kept for sale wholesale to customers resorting to the premises; the word "shop" includes—
(a) any premises in which any retail trade or business is carried on;
(b) any wholesale shop;
(c) any warehouse occupied for the purposes of his trade by any person carrying on any retail trade or business or by any wholesale dealer or merchant;
the expression "refreshment house" means any premises which are structurally adapted for use as and are used as a hotel, restaurant, café or tea-shop (whether such premises are or are not licensed for the sale by retail or intoxicating liquor);
the expression "licensed premises" means any premises (not being a refreshment house) which are licensed for the sale by retail of intoxicating liquor;
the word "proprietor" when used in relation to a shop means the person who carries on business at that shop;
the expression "member of the staff" when used in relation to a shop means any person who (whether he does or does not receive wages for his services) does for the proprietor of such shop any work which is wholly or mainly performed within such shop and is wholly or mainly in connection with the serving of customers or the receipt of orders or the despatch of goods or the unpacking or packing of goods, and is not industrial work within the meaning of the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936 (No. 2 of 1936);
the word "relative" when used in relation to the proprietor of a shop means a person who—
(a) is the wife, husband, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, step-father, or step-mother of such proprietor or is a son, daughter, grandson, grand-daughter, stepson, step-daughter, brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister of such proprietor, and
(b) is maintained by and dwells in the house of such proprietor;
the word "juvenile" means a person who has attained the age of fourteen years and has not attained the age of eighteen years;
the expression "shop work" means work (whether within or outside a shop) which is connected with or ancillary to the business carried on at a shop, but does not include work in connection with a wholesale shop or a warehouse occupied by a wholesale dealer or merchant, other than—
(a) work within the premises, or
(b) work in the collection or delivery of goods, or in attendance upon customers, or in carrying messages or running errands;
the word "year" when used without qualification means the period between midnight on the last Saturday night in December and midnight on the last Saturday night in the next month of December;
the word "week" means the period between midnight on Saturday night and midnight on the succeeding Saturday night;
the word "week day" means a day which is not a Sunday;
the word "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Minister under this Act.
(2) A member of the staff of a shop shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be in the employment of the proprietor of such shop.
(3) Where different trades or businesses are carried on by the same person in different parts of any premises, any part of such premises in which any particular class of retail trade or business is carried on shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be a shop.
I move amendment No. 2:
In sub-section (1) page 4, line 30, before the word "the" where it first occurs, to insert the words, "the business carried on in a theatre."
Section 2 deals with the position of certain employees in theatres and cinemas. I do not know whether the Minister agrees that the Bill does not apply to theatre and cinema employees as a whole, but only with a section of them. It appears to deal definitely with those persons engaged in selling programmes, sweets, cigarettes and so forth. The purpose of my amendment is to extend the provisions of the Bill so as to include ushers, usherettes and others.
I have given this matter consideration, and I am not at all sure that it is practicable under this Bill to deal with the conditions of employment of persons working in theatres and cinemas. This is a Shops Bill or a Shop Assistants Bill —whichever you choose to call it—and persons so employed do not come within that definition, nor are theatres or cinemas shops within the accepted meaning. I am in complete agreement with the Deputy when he contends that there is need for the regulation of the working hours and general conditions of persons employed in cinemas and theatres, but, considering the question in relation to the provisions of this Bill, I think it would be inappropriate to effect that regulation by means of the inclusion of those persons within the scope of this measure. A number of the provisions of this Bill—which was prepared having in mind the circumstances in shops only, and for the purpose of ensuring that there would be some general system of regulation of the conditions of employment in shops—would not apply at all to persons employed in theatres or cinemas. It is better, therefore, to leave over to another measure the making of whatever regulations are desirable and practicable in relation to theatre employees. I do not say that that is a very firm decision on my part. I have been approached by various interests who have urged both points of view on this question, and I came to the conclusion that, on the whole, it was not desirable to attempt to adapt the provisions of this Bill to the special conditions which must prevail in theatres and cinemas which, in fact, operate when shops are closed, and the persons employed in which must be engaged at periods and times when shop assistants, in the ordinary way, are not at work at all. I would, therefore, urge that the regulation of conditions of employment of theatre workers should not be attempted in this measure, but should be left over for another measure dealing with themselves solely or with themselves and similar classes of persons engaged in the provision of amusements for persons who are employed during normal hours. I make that decision more easily by reason of the fact that the particular provision of this Bill most urgently desired by those employees—the holiday provision—will, in any event, apply to them under the general measure which, as I intimated, it is my intention to introduce early next year.
The Minister is willing to introduce at an early date a Bill covering these classes of workers?
I am. In relation to every general class for whom we introduce legislative provisions of this kind, there will be certain exceptions who will have to be dealt with separately. It is my intention to cover every class, including these exceptions, before our whole code of legislation is completed, and my only reason for excluding these workers from the provisions of this Bill is that it would complicate the Bill and lessen its general effectiveness. Their circumstances are different from the circumstances of shop assistants and their hours of work are different. The particular regulations necessary to ensure that their conditions of employment will be as they should be would be different from those required in the case of shop assistants. I would therefore propose to deal with that by special legislation later.
Might I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that there is nothing to prevent cinemas employing boys and girls under certain ages, unless they break the School Attendance Act?
That is true, but, again, there are special regulations required in that respect. I do not know if it will be generally held desirable to exclude juveniles from employment in theatres and cinemas—that view might be urged by some people— but if it is not so held, clearly, the hours of work of juveniles employed in theatres and cinemas must be different from those which would be permitted in the case of juveniles employed in shops or in factories, and the fact that these considerations are there indicates the desirability of dealing with this class of workers by special legislation.
In view of the Minister's statement, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
That will govern amendments Nos. 4, 7 and 49.
No. 7 might be required for some other purpose in respect of people selling programmes and so forth. You might want to define a theatre.
It might be necessary to define it, but the Deputy can mention it when we come to the amendment. I move amendment No. 3:—
In sub-section (1), page 4, line 30, to insert after the word "cleaner" the words "the business of carrying on a laundry".
The object of this amendment is to make clear that the expression "dyer and cleaner" includes the business of carrying on a laundry. I think there is some possibility of the phrase not being held to include the business of a laundry and, therefore, this amendment is desirable. I think the point was made by Deputy Benson.
I have no objection to the insertion of the amendment, although I should prefer to see it worded "the business of a launderer", which would combine better with "dyer and cleaner". The Minister, however, has not met the other point I raised on Second Reading, that, by this Bill, he is making a factory a shop. It is not actually a very serious matter in this Bill, but in the Hours of Trading Bill it might be a very serious matter, because a closing order might compel a factory, as a shop, to close before the Conditions of Employment Act required it to close as a factory. I admit it is difficult to get wording which will quite suit the Minister. I take it that what he wishes to apply these conditions to is a shop used for the receiving and returning of customers' clothes which have been laundered, dyed or cleaned, and not to touch a factory, but I submit that as it is worded, it definitely includes a factory, because it refers to the business of a dyer or cleaner or the business of a laundry which obviously must be a factory. Further down there is a definition of a shop as "any premises in which any retail trade or business is carried on". I do not know whether the Minister can see any way of meeting it under the definition of a retail trade or business, or whether he would be prepared to accept the inclusion in that definition of the words "other than a factory".
I am prepared to discuss the matter with the Deputy if he raises it, but I want to point out certain aspects of the question which have not, I think, occurred to him. We do exclude from the scope of the Bill any person engaged in work defined as industrial work under the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936.
In the ordinary course the type of laundry we are familiar with in the City of Dublin does its shop work through separate depots and its industrial work in the factory premises, but throughout the country there are quite a number of laundries which do not maintain separate depots and where shop work and industrial work are done on the same premises, and it would be difficult to ensure that the provisions of the Bill applied only to persons employed in depots because they might, and should, apply to persons employed on the laundry premises who are doing the type of work to which this Bill applies and who are excluded from the provisions of the Conditions of Employment Act. I am still open to consider whatever suggestion the Deputy might care to make in that regard, but I want to bring that difficulty to his attention—the difficulty that arises from the fact that in certain smaller laundries throughout the country persons doing shop work are doing it in the factory premises and will continue to do it in the factory premises and in respect of whom it is necessary to have these provisions as it is in respect of persons doing the same type of work in depôts.
That position will arise equally in the city, because every laundry I have ever heard of has, in addition to the ordinary clerical staff, a window, or something of the sort, at which work is received, and many of the laundries in the city have no outside shops at all. They are merely receiving depots in the actual laundry, so that conditions in that respect are not different from those in the country. I quite agree that the members of the staff are definitely excluded, but the premises still remain a shop, although there may be no member of the staff a member for the purposes of the Bill.
For the purposes of this Bill only.
And for the purposes of the Hours of Trading Bill, too. If you do not amend the definition in this Bill, you will not amend it in the other Bill. If this passes as it stands, the Minister will not accept an amendment on the Hours of Trading Bill.
The Deputy agrees that it does not make much difference whether the amendment is to this Bill. or not, but in fact he is leading up to an amendment of the Hours of Trading Bill.
It matters more in respect of that Bill because it is possible that a closing order might be made which would restrict the hours of work more than they are already restricted by the Conditions of Employment Act. Supposing a closing order is made for 6 o'clock this week and next week. It is essential in every laundry that on at least two or three nights they should work until 9 o'clock to get work out for Christmas, but if this order is in force, while the Conditions of Employment Act will allow us to employ the girls, the Hours of Trading Bill would not allow us to keep the premises open.
Would the Minister consider that? My objection is purely academic, but I do not like businesses that are really factories shoved into this Bill. I am sure the Minister will agree, and I think he might look into it and see if he could not set the matter right before Report Stage.
Deputy Dockrell will appreciate that Deputy Benson's apprehensions arise not from the provisions of the Hours of Trading Bill, but from the possibility of an order being made under it which would be contrary to the interests of the laundry business. I do not think it very probable, but I think we may be able to devise some system which will prevent these apprehensions having any ground at all. It will not be easy to do it, but I will consider that aspect of it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.
I move amendment No. 5:—
In sub-section (1), line 38, to delete the words "to customers resorting to the premises".
I do not know what the Minister's feeling on this amendment is, but it is designed to make it perfectly clear that the sub-section applies to a wholesale shop. Customers do not resort to all wholesale shops, and in moving this amendment, I am seeking to make the position with regard to a wholesale shop absolutely clear.
The intention is, of course, to extend the scope of this legislation to cover wholesale shops where the conditions of employment are somewhat similar to those in retail shops, as distinct from wholesale shops that are mainly offices and not warehouses in any sense. I do not know what difficulty the Deputy anticipates will arise from these words. In some wholesale shops it may not be the practice of customers to resort to the premises, but it is, in fact, open to customers to resort to the premises if they wish, if merchants have goods for sale wholesale, even though the sales are mainly to customers dealing with agents or by post.
I thought the Minister was narrowing the definition "wholesale shop," and that that made the intention not quite clear where customers did not resort to the premises. However, if the Minister is perfectly sure that premises where customers do not resort to them are covered, I am satisfied.
When I saw the amendment for the first time, and studied it in relation to the section, I was inclined to agree with the Deputy that these words did not serve any purpose. A difficulty arose from the fact that there are some types of wholesale shops which are, in fact, offices. There may be some goods kept for display purposes, or as samples, but the work done by the staff is mainly clerical and not that of shop assistants. I wish to distinguish that type of establishment from a wholesale establishment which is, in fact, one where shop assistants are employed under much the same conditions as in retail shops. The distinguishing difference appears to lie in these words. The words are not satisfactory and I would undertake to consider the point later. It may be better to leave the words there, even though that may mean including a certain type of establishment that we had not intended to cover in the Bill.
May I suggest to the Minister that he might get over the last objection if he altered the definition to "member of the staff."
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 6:—
In sub-section (1), page 5, line 2, to delete the words "are structurally adapted for use as and".
There are numbers of places where extensive alterations might have to be carried out with great hardship to the owners. I do not know if the Minister considers that premises should stand or fall on what they are used for, and not what they are structurally adapted for.
I think there is something to be said for this amendment. I have in mind the possibility of dealing by legislation at some stage with a question of structural arrangements in places used as hotels, restaurants, cafés or tea shops. There is something in the Deputy's point but until there is some legislation we should have regard to the use made of premises or similar structures. If the Deputy allows the amendment to stand over until the next stage I may be able to produce a form of words to deal with it.
Under the Licensing Acts must there not be a certain number of rooms for guests in hotels?
You could have hotels that might not be licensed. I think that the general use of the word "hotel" will arise at some stage.
I am glad the Minister is going to give this matter further consideration. In many country districts structural alterations that might come up for consideration owing to legislation passed here might be impossible. It might mean pulling down the premises. If the Minister is going to give the matter personal attention, I suggest that it might take some time, as it is most complicated and a very serious one.
In the definition, is the Minister prepared to insert the words "other than a factory"?
That might meet the Deputy's point, but it does not meet me. I must cover any premises in which retail trade is carried on. If I put in the words "other than a factory" some other provision would have to be made to govern the conditions of persons employed in the retail trade or in premises carried on in a factory. Mere exclusion does not settle the problem.
I must do more. I must exempt people in a factory from being subjected to undue restrictions by reason of the fact that some retail trade is carried on in the same premises. At the same time, we must ensure that the condition of those doing retail trade in factory premises is uniform with the condition of persons doing the same work in other premises.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.
I move amendment No. 8:—
In sub-section (1), lines 13 and 14, to delete the words "within such shop and is wholly or mainly".
The purpose here possibly is to widen the scope of the Bill and to make it clear that it applies not only to those ordinarily known as shop assistants or apprentices, but to any person who may be employed on the street outside, or to a messenger, or to people employed to take away goods from the actual shop or premises. It is merely a question of taking away words which would appear to limit the effects of the section to people employed actually within the shop.
The principal effect would be to bring persons of the commercial traveller type within the scope of the section.
Or persons employed canvassing for orders away from the shop premises, or possibly persons employed outside the shop at a stall situate in the street. The actual shop is where the work is done, but there are classes of persons employed in connection with serving customers, or in the receipt of orders, or the dispatch of goods that would not be employed in the shop premises. I mention the obvious classes, commercial travellers or canvassers for orders.
Or a messenger, for instance.
A messenger is in a somewhat different position. I do not think it would be practicable to bring messengers within the scope of this Bill at least to make the same hours of work and other general conditions apply in respect of them as apply to the shop assistants on the premises. In fact, I do not know how we can best secure that any abuses in connection with the hours and employment of such persons will be remedied. Undoubtedly, certain abuses arise in respect of the hours of employment of persons of the messenger class, but it is not quite so easy to regulate those hours as it is in the case of industrial workers and shop assistants. Persons engaged upon messenger duties must, presumably, complete those duties, and I think there must be a somewhat more liberal provision in relation to the time necessary to do that than in the case of a person working in a factory. As regards the latter, you can say that he must not work after a certain hour in the evening. When that hour comes he should, and must, cease work and leave the premises, but in the case of a person delivering a message he cannot just stop half-way up the street and leave the parcel on the pavement and go home any more than a person delivering goods by motor-lorry can pull the lorry into the kerb and walk away when the clock strikes. Consequently, a somewhat different type of regulation of hours of employment is required in relation to such persons from that of shop assistants or industrial workers.
What that type of regulation may be I am not quite clear at the moment. I have certain ideas in my head, but I have not explored them or submitted them to the test of criticism by persons who will be up against whatever practical difficulties may be involved. At any rate I do not think it would be possible to bring that type of person within the scope of this measure. I agree that some regulation is required in respect of that class of person. I am willing and anxious to receive suggestions as to how regulations might best be made, but I do not see that we can fit those persons into this Bill. It is for a different reason that I wish to exclude from the Bill persons in the canvasser or commercial traveller class. I do not think they require protection of the kind provided here, or that it would be in their interest that they should get such protection. They do not suffer from abuses of the kind that the persons for whose benefit this Bill is intended suffer.
I agree with the attitude that the Minister has taken up on this amendment. The conditions that prevail in the country and in the city are altogether different. If the Minister were to accept an amendment extending the scope of the Bill, and apply its provisions to people other than shop assistants, then I venture to suggest that would lead to all sorts of complications and difficulties. We have had the experience of other measures, of simple amendments being made to them when going through this House, and then of finding, when the measures were given practical effect, that results were produced that we never dreamed of. If the scope of this Bill were to be widened you would have all sorts of people coming in under it. It is a measure that should be confined to shop assistants. If other classes of workers require protection, then let them get it in a separate measure.
I see a certain amount of force in some of the remarks made by the Minister on this amendment. I recognise that there might be certain difficulties in applying the measure to commercial travellers and commission agents. I may say that I had not that class in mind at all when the amendment was put down. I do suggest, however, that the words, "within such shop, and is wholly or mainly," actually limit the scope of the Bill to people employed within the four walls of the shop. If a person is employed outside the shop, but on work related to the business done in the shop, then under this definition he will be excluded from the scope of this measure. On the question of messengers, I suggest to the Minister that the whole purpose of the Bill is to give protection to a class of people who have to work inordinately long hours, and if that applies to any class of workers employed in shops, it surely applies to the messengers who, in many cases, are out day and night delivering goods. I put it to the Minister that, either under this amendment or by some other means, he should legislate to ensure that messengers will come within the scope of the Bill.
The Minister referred to the difficulty of regulating the hours of messengers. He pointed out, for instance, that a messenger, when out delivering a parcel, could not stop half way up a street and leave it on the pavement when the clock struck. We are not dealing here with an Hours of Trading Bill, but with a Conditions of Employment Bill. If a messenger, in certain circumstances, has to work very long hours on one evening, something might be done to have that considered as overtime, or perhaps it might be made up to him by working shorter hours on another day. I do suggest that there is a definite need for bringing messengers within the scope of the Bill. It is unlikely that in going ahead with his code of legislation the Minister would contemplate bringing in a separate Bill to deal with messengers.
I do not contemplate anything of the kind. There is no such intention, but I did intimate, when introducing the Conditions of Employment Act last year, that the whole problem of persons engaged in that type of transport was being considered and that, in fact, the third of our series of Bills would be designed to deal with those persons. There is no fundamental difference between a messenger who travels on foot, carrying a basket, or delivers parcels on a bicycle, and the man who drives a motor lorry. The problem that arises in relation to the one is the same as that which arises in relation to the other. We excluded those types of person from the Conditions of Employment Act last year, just as we exclude them from this Bill, but the intention is to deal with all those persons—persons mainly associated with transport operations—in one measure. That measure will have to be of a different character, I think, from either this Bill or the 1936 Act. It is not intended to leave their conditions of employment subject to no regulation. They will be covered by the next Bill, which will deal with the type of worker who is engaged in transport either on foot or in a motor car or lorry. I could detain the House some time pointing out the difficulties which might arise if we were to attempt to deal with that class of worker in this Bill. If an amendment were to be inserted on the lines that Deputy Heron suggests, I do not think that we could confine it to the persons the Deputy has in mind. I am afraid that we would have to take in a whole lot of other people, such as bread van drivers, people driving around in cars selling milk, and quite a number of others. I feel convinced that quite considerable difficulties would arise unless we approached the problem of the regulation of their hours on a somewhat different line to that which is adopted here, and that is what we intend to do in the next Bill.
I fully endorse what the Minister has said. Deputy Heron's amendment is altogether too wide in scope. If it were accepted it would bring in the drivers of petrol lorries and all sorts of people under the operation of this Bill. It is obvious that all these people must be dealt with under a Transport Bill.
May I suggest that there is a class of shop assistant concerning whom it is uncertain whether or not they would come under this Bill if that phrase "wholly or mainly" is allowed to remain. Let us take the case of boys attending petrol pumps. There is probably a couple of hundred boys employed doing that, and it must be remembered that sometimes these pumps are not directly part of a garage, and might be some distance from the main premises. I submit to the Minister that, in the Bill as it stands, it would be uncertain whether these boys, or girls, as the case may be—because I understand that some girls are employed in such work— would be included under the terms of the Bill. I am sure that it would be the Minister's intention to include them, but I am not sure whether the case of such people would be covered by the Bill, and I think that the Minister should give that matter some further consideration.
Well, it is intended that persons so employed—persons in the retail trade—in circumstances such as Deputy Moore has described, should be included. Section 3 of the Bill refers to the extension of the Act to places where any retail trading is carried on. It says that the provisions of this Act shall extend to any place where any retail trade or business is carried on as if that place were a shop and as if in relation to any such place the person by whom the retail trade or business is carried on there were the proprietor of that shop. There is a somewhat similar provision further on in the Bill, I think, which is designed to achieve the same result. If any question is raised as to the effectiveness of these provisions, I am prepared to consider them, but the intention is that persons employed under such conditions as have been described will be covered by the Bill in the same way as if they were actually employed in a retail shop premises.
I think it is perfectly plain that, under Section 3, a petrol pump would be regarded as a shop for the purposes of the Act.
Yes, but this is a question of the premises.
Well, the section says that the provisions of this Act shall extend to any place where any retail trade or business is carried on as if that place were a shop. Well, you are carrying on a retail business when you have a petrol pump. However, there is another matter about which I should like to have a definition from the Minister, and that is how he expects the phrase "members of the staff" to be construed when you are dealing with a refreshment or a licensed premises. You see, what is said here is that the expression "member of the staff" when used in relation to a shop means any person who does for the proprietor any work which is wholly or mainly performed within such shop and is wholly or mainly in connection with the serving of customers, or the receipt of orders or the despatch of goods, and so on. In the case of a refreshment house or a licensed premises, what is meant by the serving of customers? It seems to me to be a very vague term. You may narrow it down to the case of a waiter or a waitress, but take the broader meaning of it and you must include the case of the cook or the other attendants in the house who also serve the customer. What does the Minister intend? Does he intend that all the servants of a hotel or a refreshment house should be included, or does he merely intend that it should be only the waiters or waitresses, as the case might be?
I think that question would arise more correctly in connection with another amendment—I think it is Amendment No. 11—and perhaps it would be better to deal with it then.
Yes, or it could be raised on the section itself. Am I to take it that Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10 are withdrawn?
I am not sure, Sir. It seemed to me that Amendment No. 10 dealt with a different point. I take it that Amendment No. 8 was intended to raise the question of canvassers and agents and that Amendment No. 9 dealt with the question of clerical workers, which is a different matter. I think, therefore, Sir, that we might consider Amendment No. 9.
Amendment No. 8, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In sub-section (1), line 14, to delete after the word "shop" all words down to the word "goods" in line 16.
I have already expressed a certain disinclination to extend the scope of this Bill to cover clerical workers, and I am afraid that I must press this point. It may be that certain classes of clerical workers require a Bill of this kind and that they require protection by some such Bill. Representatives of the Trades Union Congress whom I met, in fact, urged that, of all the persons employed in some classes of shops, clerical workers required protection more urgently than any other class of workers. That, however, I think was mainly in relation to the wages paid rather than to the hours of work or the conditions of employment, although the conditions of employment and hours of work were also very definitely mentioned. I do not see, however, that we can effect the same type of regulations here as in the case of shop assistants. I should be disposed to have the general question of the conditions of employment and hours of work of clerical workers considered separately. I have no desire to minimise the difficulty that there may be in effecting any similar type of regulation in regard to such workers as we are proposing in relation to industrial workers and to shop assistants, because it must be remembered that, in the case of clerical workers, the relation between employee and employer is often of a confidential nature and of such a character that the same considerations do not exactly arise as in the case of industrial workers or shop assistants. However, if it is felt that, apart from the compulsory provision for paid holidays and the regulation of wages, there is need nevertheless for the control of the conditions of employment and hours of work of clerical workers, then I think that the clerical workers associated with shops should come under such regulations—that is, regulations that would apply to them as a class and which would have regard to their functions as clerical workers rather than to the fact that the clerical workers concerned had to do with a shop.
I think that most of the clerical workers Deputies had in mind would be of the class of the cashier in a shop, and so on, and I think that these are covered by the Bill. The type of clerical worker not covered by the Bill would be, I presume, a person employed in the accountancy department, which is not so different from the function of a person employed in the accountant's office in a factory or any other type of employment such as that of an insurance company. To attempt to regulate the hours of work of such people, however, I think would be a hopeless task, and I do not see how we can do it. It may be desirable, however, to effect some means of wage control and it is intended to make a compulsory holiday provision, but I am afraid it would be very difficult to attempt to regulate the hours of work of such workers.
I can quite see the Minister's difficulty in regard to clerical workers as a class apart from clerical workers employed in shops, but I think that an investigation would reveal that, in shops generally, the clerical staffs are treated on the same basis as the shop assistants, and that, so long as the shop is open, the clerks are on duty just the same as the assistants, and that they go off duty when the shop assistants go off duty. It seems to me, therefore, to be obvious that in a Bill of this kind which, amongst other things, will require the setting up of some kind of an inspectorate and will necessitate the carrying out of certain inspectorial duties, it would simplify the matter to have the clerks employed in shops dealt with on the same basis as the shop assistants. As the Bill stands, I think it is doubtful if even the people to whom the Minister refers, such as cashiers and so on, are included. It is doubtful if, say, the cashier and the book-keeper employed in a shop are included. I do not see why the whole clerical staff of the shops should not be treated on the same basis as shop assistants, and why that should not be made clear in the Bill.
As regards the scope of the definition and the statement I made that cashiers were included, the terminology used is similar to that used in the 1912 Act, and has been the subject of a judicial decision. There is no reason for apprehension on that score. If there were, I would move to amend the Bill to make the point expressly clear, but I am assured that it is not necessary. On the second point raised by the Deputy, it is, of course, clear that the clerical staff to whom the provisions of the Bill do not apply need not necessarily be employed in the shop premises at all, and, in fact, they would not in many cases. If one considers the case of multiple shops, the clerical staff doing the accountancy work for these shops will probably be in some central premises, and not upon the actual shop premises of the firm at all. In other cases, of course, the accountancy work and the actual trading work will be done within the same walls, but that need not necessarily be the case.
Where that is the case, is the Minister satisfied that they are covered by the Bill as it stands?
Persons who have no direct connection with the actual business of the shop—I gave as an example persons in the accountant's or secretary's office—are outside the Bill. Persons who have direct association with trading in the shop, even as clerks, persons doing clerical work, such as a cashier receiving money and giving out receipts, etc., are covered, and have been held to be covered by the corresponding definition in the 1912 Act. But the clerical worker who is outside the Bill is doing precisely the same type of work as a similar clerical worker would do in relation to a factory, an insurance company, a stockbroker's office, or some other type of commercial establishment. In so far as their conditions of employment require to be dealt with, they should be dealt with as a class, the same as shop assistants are dealt with as a class. Even though there may be no comparison between the type of work done by one assistant and another, we can deal with them as a class. We can set down certain general conditions which must apply to them as a class, and they are different from those we would apply to clerical workers. In their case I do not think we should try to be anything as rigid in the matter of regulating hours of work, whereas we might require to be more rigid in the protection of earnings and certain other aspects of employment.
The Minister, of course, understands that clerical workers as a body are worse paid, proportionally, than any other body in the country, and that they require immediate protection from the Minister. Do I understand from the Minister that, where two clerks are employed within a shop and two clerks are employed outside the shop, the clerks inside the shop come within the scope of the Bill and the others do not?
It would depend on the work they are doing. If they are engaged in the serving of customers, the receipt of orders, the dispatch of goods, or the packing or unpacking of goods, they are within the scope of the Bill, no matter where they are.
The Minister really has now shifted to what is serving customers. I should like if he could help us with that just for the purpose of understanding how far he wishes to go. Take the case of a clerical worker engaged in a shop who, possibly, never serves a customer, but who might make an entry for that customer, or for the delivery of goods for that customer. That is No. 1 clerical worker. Then there is another clerical worker who is in another part of that shop, who never is near a customer, and who is making entries in connection with the business, but who is on the premises. Are both of these covered?
The term the Deputy uses is what is in the Bill. The term in the Bill is "in connection with the serving of customers". These are the words which the Deputy used.
I want the Minister to interpret them for me. Are clerical workers who never serve a customer, but who are engaged in clerical work in connection with the serving of customers, either close to where the customers are being attended to or at some distance away, covered by the Bill?
They are if their work is in connection with the serving of customers. That is the actual term used in the Bill.
I still think that it would be much easier from the Minister's point of view—he, of course, is the best judge of that—to legislate for clerks employed in shops while he is legislating for shops. I think insurance companies, railway companies, and even small offices like solicitors' offices who employ clerks, might be grouped together in considering clerical work. But I think the clerks employed in shops, such as invoice clerks and other people actually working in shops, should be definitely included in this Bill. However, with the Minister's assurance that he has in mind future legislation to cover this class, I am quite satisfied to withdraw the amendment.
In practice, most of the clerks employed in shops are covered by the Bill. Invoice clerks, which he mentioned, will be covered. The type which is not covered is one whose work is so detached from the business of the shop that it cannot be held to come within the definition. They are very few in number in connection with shops and they will be mostly in relation to multiple shops.
Amendment No. 9, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.
I move amendment No. 11:—
In sub-section (1), at the end of line 18, to add the words—"and when used in relation to a refreshment house includes any person who does for the proprietor of such refreshment house any work which forms part of or is ancillary to the business of such refreshment house".
This deals with the position of a refreshment house defined in the Bill. It is stated to be a hotel, restaurant, café or tea-shop. The question is what is the position of a number of the staff of such an establishment. What line will be drawn? For example, will the kitchen staff or porters be included? Will any of the staff in connection with the hotel portion of the establishment be included? This amendment will bring them in. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say as to the dividing line.
I do not think the Bill as it stands is quite satisfactory in this aspect of it. That is to say, I do not think the definition is sufficiently clear to avoid the possibility of confusion arising. When I met representatives of the Trade Union Congress I tried to express the matter in this way. I said that we intended to cover everybody employed in a restaurant and everybody employed at similar work in a hotel. But I do not think that it is quite sufficient to say that or that the Bill in fact does it because various anomalies might arise.
Representations have been made to me for and against the application of this Bill to hotels. I had very strong representations from an organisation of hotel proprietors against the application of the Bill on various grounds and equal representation from organisations of workers in favour of its application and an unusually large number of personal letters from individual hotel workers all over the country relating to their conditions of employment, some of which revealed rather extraordinary circumstances to exist in some cases. The difficulty comes in when you try to draw the dividing line between what constitutes hotel work and what constitutes domestic service. I do not think that by a Bill of this kind we should attempt to regulate the conditions of employment of domestic servants. But clearly a very large number of persons who are classed, say, for the purpose of the Unemployment Acts, as domestic servants are in a different class from persons who work in hotels and who do in hotels work similar to that which domestic servants do in private houses, or in clubs, or similar establishments.
Where there is any similarity between the work of a hotel and the work of a shop, where the work done in a hotel is in connection with the serving of customers or the receipt of orders, then I think we can reasonably apply the conditions of this Bill to that work. If I were starting in this matter again, I might be more inclined now to take the line that hotels are not shops and that the problems arising out of the conditions of employment in a hotel should not be tackled in a Shops Bill. A lot of our difficulties arise from the fact that we are trying to deal in this Bill with work that should not properly arise on a Shops Bill. The question of work in hotels should, I believe, be tackled separately. We have, however, tackled it in this Bill but I do not think that we have solved our problems altogether by doing so. Does a domestic servant in a hotel, whose ordinary work is cleaning, making beds and similar activities of that kind, come within the scope of this Bill if she serves a cup of tea in a guest's bedroom in the morning? Clearly, a waiter who serves a cup of tea in the diningroom comes within the scope of the Bill. If one, why not the other? These are the types of questions that arise, questions which it is very hard to answer. If we were to attempt to cover all classes of persons employed in the hotels, then I think the question of what constitutes a hotel might arise at once for consideration. There are many places throughout the country which are called hotels, where undoubtedly a casual guest will be provided with hotel accommodation for a night, but where casual guests are very few and where the main business of the staff employed is doing the ordinary domestic work of the proprietor's family who reside in the hotel. To attempt to distinguish between the work done as a domestic servant of the proprietor and work done in association with what is described as a hotel, would be very difficult.
I think we shall consider this matter again and try to get a clearer definition of the type of hotel work and restaurant work to which the Bill will apply. The intention is to ensure that we will cover everybody in a restaurant —because we consider that everybody in a restaurant is engaged in serving customers, the receiving of orders and so forth—and to try to cover corresponding workers employed in hotels and similar establishments. I do not think that will be easy. It might be even desirable to take hotels out of the Bill altogether and to deal with them separately. The only objection to that is that certain anticipations of improved conditions amongst hotel workers have been aroused and they would not like to see them postponed, nor would I like to postpone them. It might have been the more satisfactory course to have taken in the first instance, and to approach the matter as if we were not dealing with a Bill which attempted to deal with hotel workers, but we had better go ahead now. I think it will be necessary to get clear definitions of the type of work involved. On the general question and the definition of the class of workers employed, I should be glad to get the views of persons directly interested or concerned in this business.
I take it the Minister is likely to introduce an amendment?
If the Deputy would leave the amendment for the moment, I think it would be better. I do not think that we should attempt to pass this Bill this week. Too many points are likely to arise in it, or have been already raised by organisations of workers and employers in various retail trades, to enable us to dispose of the measure now. If we could get it through Committee Stage this week, get all these various aspects referred to and the various problems set out, we could adjourn the next stage until after Christmas, particularly as the Dáil is meeting early after Christmas, and then recommit the Bill. In this Committee Stage we shall be able to eliminate a number of the more contentious matters and in relation to others we shall be able to define them and to set out what the problems are, leaving it to the recommittal stage to put these matters in legal language.
It does seem to me that the Minister will find it very difficult to include hotels in this Bill, because hotels are quite different from shops and must be regarded from a different point of view. The Minister said that certain hopes had been aroused and that he does not want to disappoint them. I quite understand that, but this Bill will go through the Committee Stage and will then remain over until after the vacation. During the vacation the Minister could work out a Hotel Bill and possibly have it ready so that it will not be more than a week or so afterwards until it could be introduced.
The position is that the Parliamentary draftsman cannot produce Bills as rapidly as I can conceive them, consequently various measures we have in mind have got to be queued up and be taken one at a time. I have promised that the next measure will be one to deal with transport workers. If we are to have a separate measure for hotel workers, they will have to queue up behind the transport workers.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Progress reported, Committee to sit again this evening.