Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Social Media

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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101. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of his engagement with social media platforms regarding working conditions for content moderators. [29939/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, the Tánaiste met with a number of content moderators, and their representatives earlier this year, and followed up directly with the company on whose behalf content moderation work is carried out.

I am aware of the genuine concerns of social media content moderators and recognise the important service these workers provide in keeping us all safe.

Ireland has in place a strong and robust legislative regime to protect all workers in terms of their working conditions, including work-related health and safety, as well as their terms and conditions of employment. The work of a social media moderator involves exposure to potentially harmful material the impact of which is a potential hazard to the worker. It is the employer’s responsibility to identify, control and reduce impact of workplace hazards.

Social media content moderators should be treated by an employer in the same way as any other worker potentially exposed to work related hazards. The employer must carry out a robust risk assessment with a particular focus on the potential hazards arising from work activities and must provide appropriate training. Where a particular hazard is identified that may require subsequent monitoring it must be included in the written Safety Statement, and the relevant worker must be made aware of the hazard and the associated monitoring that is in place.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the independent regulator for workplace safety. I am aware that the HSA is engaging with the Social Media sector to establish and assess the control measures in place to address the risks arising from specific nature of the work of content moderators. The HSA will be able to determine whether further advice or guidance is necessary for employers to ensure compliance with their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

I would also point out that there is provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, to ensure that an employer cannot penalise, or threaten to penalise, an employee who makes a complaint or a representation on any matter relating to health and safety at work. Any worker concerned for their health and safety can contact the Health and Safety Authority’s Workplace Contact Unit in confidence at wcu@hsa.ie.

Furthermore, a full suite of employment rights legislation protects all workers legally employed on a contract of service basis. Where an individual is concerned about their employment rights they should contact the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which is mandated to secure compliance with employment rights legislation. The WRC can be contacted at www.workplacerelations.ie.

Separately, I would add that my colleague, Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is currently advancing a regulatory framework which will deal with on-line safety and which will include the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.

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