Tuesday 24 April 2018

Crackdown on bosses' bogus self-employed job contracts demanded

Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea
Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea
John Downing

John Downing

Fianna Fáil will move to force the Government to clamp down on "fake self-employment" with changes to forthcoming legislation.

The party's welfare spokesman, Willie O'Dea, has accused Revenue Commissioners of failing to crack down on employers obliging low-paid workers to become contractors rather than employees. He said this was especially happening in construction, where labourers and some semi-skilled workers were denied full status, and that it was too easy for employers to re-designate workers always previously treated as employees.

The Revenue Commissioner has issued a long rebuttal of his arguments, pointing to ongoing efforts to ensure employers follow the rules. But they also say it is up to the Government and the Oireachtas to tighten the law if deemed necessary.

Mr O'Dea said that in 2008 there were some 75,000 "self-employed workers who had no employees" - a designation which describes this category of worker. This is now closer to 100,000.

He will frame an amendment in the next term to the Employment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill tabled by Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, aimed at tightening employers' obligations generally.

"I will then challenge all the other Dáil parties to support this amendment - or explain why they will not support it," Mr O'Dea told the Irish Independent. He also insisted that this move, unlike many Dáil private members' votes which have been lost and then ignored by Government, could not be ignored.

"The more alarming thing is that one in five of the people affected do not have a third-level qualification. To me, it shows the problem mainly concerns vulnerable people with low skills and an ability to earn only low pay," Mr O'Dea added.

The Limerick city TD also said the practice is moving into the public administration sectors where it is happening in healthcare and education.

"This means that taxpayers' own money is being indirectly used to promote the so-called 'gig economy', resulting in loss of Government income and the extension of injustice," he added.

The Revenue Commissioner said it was keenly aware of many risks of revenue loss.

In 2016, a major inter-departmental report was completed with a special subsection on construction, and in 2016 nearly 18,000 construction investigations yielded almost €58m in back-tax, interest and penalties.

Tackling all non-compliance was a priority and detection and enforcement methods were under constant review.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section