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Social Media

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (141)

Paul Murphy


141. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department will be taking on the advice offered by a person (details supplied); and his plans to make a statement in support of the workers and their families. [29234/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I would like to re-assure the Deputy that I am aware of the genuine concerns of social media content moderators. I have previously met with them, and their representatives, and I have also raised their concerns with one of the primary social media companies, on whose behalf content moderation work is carried out.  

It must be emphasised that there is already, in Ireland, a strong legislative regime to protect all workers in terms of their working conditions, including work-related health and safety, as well as their terms and conditions of employment.  

The suite of workplace health and safety legislation is designed to prevent and mitigate against work-related accidents and injuries. Social media content moderators should be treated by an employer in the same way as any other worker potentially exposed to work related hazards. This means that the employer must ensure that appropriate training is provided and must carry out a robust risk assessment with a particular focus on the potential hazards arising from work activities. Where a particular hazard is identified that may require subsequent monitoring it must be included in the written Safety Statement, and the relevant worker must be made aware of the hazard and the associated monitoring that is in place.  

I would also point out that there is provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, to ensure that an employer cannot penalise, or threaten to penalise, an employee who makes a complaint or a representation on any matter relating to health and safety at work. Any worker concerned for their health and safety can contact the Health and Safety Authority’s Workplace Contact Unit in confidence.  

While the Health and Safety Authority is independent in the carrying out of investigations into complaints that it receives, I am aware that the Health and Safety Authority continues to engage with the Social Media sector to reiterate their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and to establish what control measures are in place to address the risks arising from the specific nature of the work of content moderators. On assessing the control measures the Health and Safety Authority will be able to determine whether further advice or guidance is necessary for employers and employees in that sector.  

In addition, employment rights legislation protects all employees who are legally employed on a contract of service basis. Where an individual believes they are being deprived of employment rights they can bring a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which is mandated to secure compliance with employment rights legislation. The WRC can be contacted at www.workplacerelations.ie .  

Non-Disclosure Agreements should not and cannot be used to prevent content moderators from raising issues of concern around their working conditions and/or health and safety concerns. We have robust legislative protection for all workers in Ireland who wish to raise legitimate concerns without repercussion.

Separately, I would add that my colleague, Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is currently advancing a regulatory framework which will deal with on-line safety and which will include the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.