Written answers

Tuesday, 9 April 2024

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Small and Medium Enterprises

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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371. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to ensure that proposed working conditions measures will not have a negative impact on SMEs in increased operating costs as they will not be in a position to absorb such costs over the proposed period for these changes to be implemented in working conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15209/24]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Government has advanced a range of measures to improve working conditions in Ireland, including the transition to a Living Wage, Auto-Enrolment Retirement Savings, Parent’s Leave and Benefit, Statutory Sick Pay, an Additional Public Holiday, the Living Wage, and Remote Working. These improvements will bring wider societal benefits and will serve to bring Ireland in line with other advanced economies.

My Department, in collaboration with the Department of Social Protection, assessed the cumulative impact of changes to working conditions, including Auto-Enrolment Retirement Savings Scheme, Parent’s Leave and Benefit, Statutory Sick Pay, the additional Public Holiday, the Living Wage, and the Right to Request Remote Working. This report was published on the 5th March.

The paper recognises that businesses may face rising costs, in particular in the short term. Reflecting the findings of this assessment, a range of measures are being brought forward to assist businesses in adjusting to these increased costs as well as more generally to improve cost competitiveness of firms.

These measures include making available up to €15 million to Local Enterprise Offices to enable a top up payment of up to €3,000 in the Energy Efficiency Grant for businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors bringing the grant up to €8,000; preparation of an options paper on the application of the lower 8.8% rate of Employer PRSI contribution; a range of measures to reduce red tape and the administrative burden on business, including: an enhanced SME Test; accelerating the roll out of a fully functioning National Enterprise Hub with staff available to provide immediate advice and support to vulnerable firms.

This Government has adopted an active approach in supporting Irish businesses across multiple crises over the last number of years, including the introduction of unemployment supports during the COVID -19 pandemic, the provision of financial supports to firms facing the implications of Brexit, and more recently, through the period of increasing overhead costs. My Department is fully committed to supporting businesses and the measures included in Budget 2024, and more recently in the measures announced following the publication of the ‘Assessment of the Cumulative Impact of Proposed Measures to Improve Working Conditions in Ireland’ reflect this.


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