Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
I thank the Senators. I do not know why Senator Ruane thinks that was the only issue we had in the Dáil. Not only was the provision discussed at length on Committee Stage in the Lower House, it was also discussed at length on Report Stage when I happened to convince enough people that it should not be accepted. That is why we reversed it. I was on my own during the Committee Stage debate in the Dáil and I lost the vote. Recommendations have come back from the Labour Court and the WRC as to why the provision is unworkable. There certainly was not only one condition, namely, that of qualifications. That was one matter which was highlighted with regard to a porter or a nurse in a hospital. That was the example given. There are so many others and the Senator listed them. We could operate a panel, we could operate a list system or we could work out the mechanics in the future. This amendment is nowhere close. We are at the final gates in the context of passing this legislation. This amendment has not undergone any public scrutiny. No interaction has been had with the employers' organisations, the employee organisations or any of our social partners. That would have to be done to consider all of the examples the Senator has given including the list system and sticking hours up on a noticeboard. We would also have to consider how to account for discrimination in cases where hours were given to someone who was tall but not someone who was small. I am not saying what the Senator is trying to do is wrong; I actually agree with her. We have the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 and the code of practice, which is actually on a statutory footing.
To reply to Senator Craughwell, the pronouncements and deliberations of the WRC are anonymous so, if people are afraid, we have a body of work to do to tell them that they have absolutely no need to be afraid to take their issues or cases to the WRC. The penalisation measures are there.
I beg Senator Ruane. If she pushes this amendment and it passes - and I have no problem losing - I will have to undertake public consultation and that will delay this Bill by months. None of us want that. I can find another way to do what the Senator wants to do. If taking a test case to the Labour Court does not work the Senator can draft legislation and I will support her. Let us, however, make sure that we get all t's crossed and the i's dotted so that when it does come it will be legislation with which the WRC can work and which the Labour Court can enforce so that people who are brave enough to take on their employers will receive the justification and reward they are looking for, which is just more hours when they come available. That is the best way I can put it.