More proactive approach on false self-employment needed after RTÉ revelations

22 June 2018

Labour Employment Affairs spokesperson Senator Ged Nash has said the revelations that 157 workers at RTÉ were misclassified as self-employed shows the need for the Government to more pro-actively tackle this across the economy.

Senator Nash said:

“RTÉ did the right thing by reviewing the employment status of over 400 contractors to determine whether they had been misclassified as self-employed. If the largest media organisation in the State is engaging in this practice then it is obviously endemic across the economy.

“The embedding of false self-employment across the spectrum has deprived workers of security and employment benefits, but also means the State has lost out on taxes and social security contributions.

“The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is engaged in a public relations campaign asking people to contact it if they are concerned about their employment status but it’s not enough.

“Incredibly it seems to me that there is a level of tolerance for bogus self-employment at government level that is not applied to any other form of fraud.

“What is actually needed is a much more pro-active approach, where the Department’s SCOPE section and the Revenue Commissioners would carry out evidence based audits of specific employment sectors.

“Thousands of workers in aviation, construction, IT, the media and many other sectors know what the daily reality of life is like for them as falsely self-employed workers.

“The reality is that bad employers are abusing the system to dodge paying employers’ PRSI in a bid to dramatically slash their labour costs and to make it easier and cheaper to hire and fire staff with impunity.

“Labour introduced the Protection of Employment (Measures to Counter False Self Employment) Bill 2017 which, if enacted, will put all workers on an equal footing in situations where they are carrying out the same duties, but are not legally designated as ‘employees’. The Bill passed second stage in the Seanad in late February

“It provides for a holistic approach to the determination and classification of employment status and a set of clear rules in statute law that would apply to all employers and enforced across the board by the courts and in all administrative tribunals, giving a clear role to the WRC in such matters.

“It also applies tax avoidance laws to the practice of bogus self-employment. This measure should act as major deterrent for employers who might consider forcing an employee to go down the false self-employment route.

“The results of the RTÉ review show that a comprehensive legislative response is now needed. For now, Minister Regina Doherty must take her head out of the sand and pursue a much more vigorous enforcement of the existing law.”

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