Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages


12:00 pm

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I am not in a position to accept amendment No. 59. Senators are aware that the emergency period is defined in this section as ending on 31 May. If there is no need to extend the emergency period beyond that, the Government will not. We merely want to give businesses an opportunity to get back on their feet and it will revert to the normal time periods when the emergency period is over.

With regard to amendment No. 60, in order to qualify for a redundancy payment, an employee must have worked continuously for his or her employer for at least two years. The existing provisions in section 3 of the Redundancy Payments Act already provide that periods of temporary lay-offs do not break continuity of employment, and this will include temporary lay-off periods due to Covid-19.Similarly, short-time work does not break an employee's continuous employment. The Senator may be referring to reckonable service as opposed to continuity of employment for the purpose of the calculation of a redundancy payment. Reckonable service is regarded as a week within continuous employment during which the employee is actually at work or absent from work due to specific reasons, such as carer's leave, parental leave or certain periods of sickness and holidays. Periods of short-time work are classed as fully reckonable for the redundancy payment calculation, as the person is actually at work.

The emergency measure the Government has brought forward is intended to prevent mass redundancies over a short time. In many cases, the period of temporary lay-off, which is not counted as reckonable service, will not make a significant difference to overall redundancy payments. I think I am correct in saying that there has been no consultation with employer bodies as well as employee representative bodies on this amendment, which is against the general practice with amendments to employment law. I am not, therefore, in a position to accept the amendment.


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