The Deputy will be aware that the matter of community employment schemes falls withihn the policy remit of my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection.
I have however a strong appreciation of the role of Community Employment Schemes in communities right across the country and I know this role could not be fulfilled without the leadership of the Scheme Supervisors. In this context I have taken the opportunity to meet with the relevant parties involved in these schemes to hear at first hand their issues of concern.
The particular matter raised by the Deputy is a complex one that raises significant policy, legal and exchequer cost issues. The Deputy may be aware that the State is not the employer of the workers concerned. It is the posiiton that this matter was discussed extensively at meetings of the Community Sector High Level Forum between public service management, which included inter alia officials from my Department, and union representatives. My Department carried out a detailed scoping exercise in 2017 in order to comprehensively examine and assess the full potential implications, in both cost and precedent terms, of the issues involved. The outcome to the scoping exercise was that the matter has potentially very significant implications for the exchequer, particularly if consequential demands were to be made by all similar State funded Community and Voluntary organisations whose employees are in a similar position to the Community Employment scheme supervisors.
This is a factor which must be borne in mind in our approach to this issue. While CE supervisors and assistant supervisors represent a small part of the wider community and voluntary sector, consideration must be taken for the potential liability to the State if similar claims are made by the many workers in the broader community and voluntary sector.
As the Deputy will appreciate, we are now facing major challenges in managing the public finances. However, I intend, with my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to consider all the issues involved in relation to this matter and will continue to engage constructively with the relevant stakeholders.