Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Living Wage Implementation
The most recent figures published by Eurostat (January 2019) show that Ireland has the second highest national minimum wage of any country in the EU at €1,614 per month, behind only Luxembourg whose minimum wage is €1,999 per month (for comparison purposes Eurostat converts countries’ hourly or weekly rates into monthly rates). Allowing for purchasing power standards, Ireland drops to sixth place, but still remains in the group with the highest minimum wage rates in the EU. These figures do not take into account the recent increase in the minimum wage to €9.80 per hour from 1 January 2019.
It is important that Ireland’s statutory National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage concept are not conflated. The Living Wage is a voluntary societal initiative centred on the social, business and economic case to ensure that, wherever it can be afforded, employers will pay a rate of pay that provides an income that is sufficient to meet an individual’s basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, transport and healthcare. As a voluntary initiative, the Living Wage has no legislative basis and confers no statutory entitlement. The National Minimum Wage, on the other hand, has a legislative basis and confers a statutory entitlement on employees, and a statutory obligation on employers.
The setting of wages is a matter between employers and employees, which takes place in the context of the market, and Government does not interfere unduly in the process. More generally, this area comes within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through her Department’s responsibilities for industrial relations issues generally and wage-setting mechanisms such as Registered Employment Agreements (REAs), Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) and Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs).