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Minimum wage set to increase to €9.55 from January, Varadkar confirms - 'An important step in the right direction'

 

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Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar with Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald and Minister Finian McGrath at the announcement regarding the minimum wage

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar with Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald and Minister Finian McGrath at the announcement regarding the minimum wage

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar with Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald and Minister Finian McGrath at the announcement regarding the minimum wage

Minimum wage will increase by 30c per hour from the start of 2018, based on recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

The announcement was made today by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath.

Speaking outside Government Buildings this afternoon, Taoiseach Varadkar said minimum wage will rise to €9.55 per hour from January 1.

He said: “We discussed about 55 different items at the cabinet meeting this morning but one of the items was a report from the Low Pay Commission on the national minimum wage.”

The Taoiseach welcomed the report’s recommendations which will see a 3.2 per cent increase in the national minimum wage.

“It’s an increase well ahead of inflation, well ahead of average wage growth in the economy. It is modest. It works out at about an extra €12 per week but it is still an important step in the right direction,” he added.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the announcement regarding the minimum wage at government buildings

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the announcement regarding the minimum wage at government buildings

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the announcement regarding the minimum wage at government buildings

This will be the second increase to the minimum wage since this government involving Fine Gael and Independents came to office, with a 10c increase in 2016.

Mr Varadkar said it will also be the fourth increase in the past five years representing a total increase of 25pc.

He said: “It’ll benefit at least 150,000 people - people who are very hard working, people who often are the first to get up in the morning, people who work nights, people who work weekends.

“People who we as a government believe are very important and that everyone should have an opportunity to share in the benefits of ongoing recovery.

“This recommendation is very much welcome.”

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Tánaiste Fitzgerald said this moved the alliance along to meeting their quota for government in terms of their commitment to increase minimum wage to €10.50.

“It offers support to people and creates better opportunities to benefit from a better wage,” Minister Fitzgerald said.

The Taoiseach said the cost mostly falls to employers and that, combined with an increase in income from taxes on wages, the actual cost to the exchequer “will be quite small”.

“It will not be a major factor in the budget,” he said.

The LPC also recommended that the anomaly created by the sudden increase of employers’ PRSI from 8.5pc to 10.75pc on weekly earnings of €376 be removed.

The Low Pay Commision is non-political and its recommendations take into account issues including job-creation, competitiveness, Brexit and Ireland’s continued emergence from recession, according to Minister Fitzgerald.

The report also said provision should be made for the display of basic entitlements in all places of employment to improve awareness of minimum wage, and employment rights entitlements more generally.

Separately, the Taoiseach confirmed that refunding water charges was also raised in the meetings today.

He said: “We accept the Oireachtas Committee’s report and water charges will be refunded in full.”

Mr Varadkar said he expected the refunds to reach “almost everyone” by the end of the year, expressing the possibility of difficulties arising with those who have moved houses or passed on.

“I’m confident we can do it within current exchequer funding with no new taxes, no cuts to services and no impact on Christmas bonuses,” he said.

The Taoiseach was not able to provide a complete breakdown but said “there will be a better picture in September”.

Refunding water charges will require new legislation which is expected to be raised in the first cabinet meeting in September.

The Taoiseach also again expressed full confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan amidst continuing criticism and concern over Templemore finances.


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