Token measures on bogus self-employment not enough

15 July 2019

Labour Employment Affairs spokesperson Sen. Ged Nash has called on Minister Regina Doherty to do more than token gestures to tackle bogus self-employment but instead change the law to make employment status an unambiguous matter of the law, and ensure those found guilty are labelled as tax defaulters.

Sen. Nash said:

“Unfortunately for far too many people their employment status is left up to their employers and a code of practice that is inadequate and woefully out of date. My proposed law to address this was blocked by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the Seanad but I would urge the Minister to now take on board the proposals it contained.

“While the latest initiative from the Minister for Employment Affairs to take on the scourge of false self-employment is welcome, it does not go far enough to tackle this practice. Instead of addressing it after the fact, Minister Doherty should ensure the employer must state clearly at the beginning when the person is recruited or hired, the role they are in and whether it is clearly a job. I wanted to extend the clear rules of what characterises bogus self-employment to the entire working population through primary legislation. I hope the Minister will follow through on that rather than just further guidance.

“The Minister is also proposing to increase the maximum fine for convicted companies from €13,000 to €25,000 in the Circuit Court. Considering so few employers are found guilty this will not be the deterrent that is needed unless the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection commits to increasing the number of prosecutions.

“There is no good reason to why an employer who decides to deliberately misclassify the status of an employee should not be considered to be a tax and PRSI cheat and to have the same penalties applied to them as is the case for other tax avoiders.

“I had proposed legislation which would have ensured those abusing self-employment are subject to the tax defaulter laws. This would have been a real deterrent. Bogus self-employment cheats the State out of tens of millions in lost PRSI income and tax revenue each year, which means less money for social welfare and for our hospitals and schools.”

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