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Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Thank you, Dr. McGann. We will take questions from the floor. Deputy Troy is first.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: We are straying away from pre-legislative scrutiny of the permits a little bit. The critical skills employment permit, CSEP, currently has a minimum threshold of €30,000 and the worker must hold a degree qualification. A CSEP could also be granted where remuneration is above €60,000. The €30,000 is going to increase to €32,000 and the €60,000 is going to...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: If I could interrupt the Deputy for one second, I note that there is a pathway for a worker who enters the country with a critical skills employment permit.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: I do not know much about it, but we can delve into it a little bit deeper. There is a pathway for those with a critical skill. That is another thing we can inquire about. The beauty of pre-legislative scrutiny is that we can delve into all those areas.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: That is a very valid point. I would like to raise a further question. The new Bill seeks to introduce a seasonal employment permit. Does IBEC have any thoughts on how long the seasonal employment permit should be valid for? The Department's officials were before the committee two weeks ago. It has not really finalised its position on this. It is open to different viewpoints. In the...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: The seasonal employment permit is being introduced to alleviate labour market demands in peat production. I am not sure that sector would call for 18 months. I thought it would be between six and nine months. A lot of seasons are included in 18 months. I am just thinking out loud. It is great to hear Dr. McGann's thoughts on this. Do we need to cover anything else? Would the witnesses...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: I wish to ask another question. Does IBEC support moving the details of the test of the labour market's needs to regulation and adapting the requirements to each sector?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Yes.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: In the last meeting we spent a lot of time discussing skilled workers who come into the country with their spouses or partners, and whether these spouses or partners are entitled to be here, entitled to work, entitled to annual remuneration or to a medical card etc. They absolutely are not entitled to some of those things. That is not going to change, but we welcome the fact that the spouse...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: It really came to light during the summer, when farmers were protesting outside the meat factories. A lot of the workers there came into the country on permits. They were living from week to week. Some of them were laid off. I was in contact with some of these workers. It was one of the side-effects of the strike. Jobs were being lost outside and inside the plants. Some of these...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: We will now resume the committee's pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the employment permits (consolidation and amendment) Bill. From the Irish Congress of Trade Unions I would like to welcome Dr. Peter Rigney, industrial officer, and Dr. Laura Bambrick, social policy and legislative officer. I thank the witnesses for coming before us today. In accordance with procedure I...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: I thank Dr. Rigney. Does any Member want to lead off on the questions? In that case, I will start the questioning. Overall, does Dr. Rigney welcome that the Department is trying to bring in a new Bill to update the current permit regime?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: A question I had intended to ask but Dr. Rigney has answered is if he would like to see any changes in the legislation surrounding minimum remuneration. Obviously, he would because he flagged that even though a worker should be paid a minimum of €30,000 per year, he is aware of instances where that is not the case.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: I will ask another question that I put to the other representatives earlier. It concerns seasonal work visas for seasonal employment. Dr. Rigney said in his presentation that he believes it is fraught with potential difficulty. Will Dr. Rigney expand on that? Has ICTU a timeframe in mind for this? I believe this is one part of the legislation that will into force. The Department...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: The market trends should determine it.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Family members of mine have gone to America on a J1 visa. They went while they were in college and they knew they would be coming home again. If seasonable employment permits are issued, I imagine many students would come to Ireland to take up those permits. A timeframe for the termination of such permits would be required. I did not agree with the earlier comment of it ranging between...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Is three months.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Yes. I call Deputy Troy.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Several years ago, when the committee examined the case of non-EEA fishers, one of its key recommendations was that translation services should be provided. Those from a non-English speaking background will have language issues. We can certainly flag this again as it is important.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion (26 Nov 2019)

Mary Butler: Another one of the committee’s key recommendations for non-EEA fishers on Irish vessels was that the permit should stay with the employee, not with the vessel. We discovered during different briefings that in cases of abuse, the person working on the vessel was not able to leave it because he or she did not own the permit. Instead, the permit stayed with the vessel. It was one of our...

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