Dáil debates

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements


1:40 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy. I have no doubt whatsoever that bogus self-employment is very real and is a problem in our economy and our society but it is worth pointing out that the percentage of people who are self-employed in Ireland has not changed much in recent years. There is a narrative out there that there has been a huge drift to self-employment and that more people who in the past would have been directly employed are now self-employed. That is not the case. In fact, the percentage of people self-employed out of the total workforce has not changed significantly in a very long time, and it is worth checking out those details. The numbers may change because more people are employed but the percentage of the workforce that is self-employed is much the same as it has been for a very long time. Self-employment can be advantageous. People often like the tax arrangements that occur in self-employment such as the way one can write off expenses, costs and so on. They like the flexibility around it but that is not to say that there are not abuses. The scope section in the Department of Social Protection has a particular role in that in determining whether somebody is self-employed. The Revenue Commissioners can do that also.

I am taking up the issue of delivery riders with the company. I am trying to make contact with it at the moment. The right thing to do in that particular scenario, and it is a particular scenario, is that they should be directly employed with the minimum number of hours. There is no reason flexibility cannot be achieved in other ways but one could employ people directly with the minimum number of hours and then pay extra or bonuses, as appropriate, for particular work done.


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