Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
201. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to resolve a dispute (details supplied); if he has met with the liquidators; if so, the details of the meetings; his plans to introduce legislation in line with the Duffy Cahill report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30565/20]
I extend my sympathies to the workers in Debenhams who have lost their jobs. I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is for those involved and their families.
The talks facilitated by the Chair of the Labour Court, Kevin Foley have now concluded and he has issued a report reflecting the outcome of that process. I want to thank Kevin Foley for his efforts and encourage all sides to consider his findings carefully.
Negotiations on enhanced redundancy are a voluntary matter between the liquidator and former employees. The Government has been supportive of the best outcome that is possible for the workers, within the legal framework available. There is no legal scope for the Social Insurance Fund to supplement or ‘top-up’ redundancy payments.
While the Government cannot interfere with the High Court-overseen liquidation process, it has always sought to ensure that the concerns of workers are heard, and that the State’s employment and training services are responding to the needs of the ex-Debenhams workers.
Therefore, in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of this case, as reflected in Kevin Foley’s report, the Government is willing to allocate a fund of €3 million to support career guidance, training, education and business start-ups for the former Debenham workers.
This special Fund will be administered by SOLAS on behalf of the Government.
Responsibility for employment rights, redundancy and insolvency recently transferred to my Department from the Department of Social Protection, and the recommendations made in the Duffy-Cahill report are currently being revisited.
I have also asked the Company Law Review Group to look again at aspects of Company Law in this area.
Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy jointly met with employer and union representative bodies on the 4th of November to begin a discussion on the various legislative provisions that deal with redundancy and insolvency from both a company law and employment law perspective.
I understand that consultations and discussions are ongoing.