Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ceisteanna (297)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

297. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if changes in the industrial relations laws will be considered to allow former ESB workers to access the Workplace Relations Commission regarding their pension freeze; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Access to the industrial relations machinery of the State is governed by the definition of “worker” in Section 23 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990, which provides, inter alia, that a “worker” means any person aged 15 years or more who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer. However, it must be appreciated that where a person is retired they cannot have a dispute concerning their employment or non-employment. The High Court has established, back in 1977, that retired workers are classified with the status of ‘retired’ rather than ‘worker’. Such a non-worker classification is a bar to having recourse to the labour relations bodies.

A retired person can, in time limited circumstances, seek redress from the industrial relations bodies. In 2015, the Industrial Relations Acts were amended with the insertion of section 26A to the 1990 Act. It allows for a retired person access to the IR bodies in a period of 6-month post-retirement for matters arising pre-retirement. This 6-months is either from the date of retirement or the date from when it became known or should have been known, the time frame in which to make a complaint for matters arising post-retirement.

No case can be referred to the workplace relations bodies that comes within the remit of the Pensions Ombudsman. The role of the Pensions Ombudsman, within the meaning of Part XI (eleven) of the Pensions Act, is to act an independent and impartial means of resolving complaints alleging financial loss occasioned by an act of maladministration and disputes of fact or law in relation to occupational pensions schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts.

At this time, there are no plans to amend the Industrial Relations Act.