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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Bills\Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Deputy Michael Moynihan

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Michael Moynihan

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Snippet Contents:

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. There are many fine points in it and we want it to go to Committee Stage when we will examine potential amendments. I want to deal with a number of issues, in three sectors. Many people's contributions addressed agency work, zero-hour contracts and people who are working from day to day or hour to hour. Many of those are in the care sector, including nurses, care assistants in hospitals, nursing homes or in care facilities for people who have intellectual disabilities. I know many of them. When one is talking to them on a daily basis and asks them how things are going, they might say they have a shift on that night, tomorrow and on Saturday night but are not sure about the rest of the week. That shows up the difficulties with zero-hour contracts. The Minister and Department have looked at it and how best to eliminate agency workers. There is no doubt that the issue of agency workers on the care side arose over the last eight or ten years during the economic recession. They experience huge difficulty. It is very difficult for those people who are on zero-hour contracts to, as many speakers have said, plan their lives, get mortgages and to get integrated into society. The other difficulty is where people have had difficulties with mortgage arrears. I know several families who are working on a day-to-day basis.
It is very difficult to go to the banks and will be more difficult as new information has come from the banks and vulture funds over the last 48 hours about the loan books which are being sold off. The Minister needs to look at that carefully because a train crash is coming down the tracks where that issue, the vulture funds and house repossessions are concerned. Parking that to one side, the difficulty I have relates to the people on zero-hour contracts trying to engage with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS, with their creditors or who are trying to find a solution. This Bill goes some way towards helping them. It is not how we need society to develop. There was huge apprehension and opposition from some parts with regard to this Bill but it fundamentally gives people from all age groups a platform so that they can plan their lives. I spoke to senior officials in the HSE today about home care packages and home helps, the difficulty it is experiencing in providing services and the financial challenges that exist with the HSE not providing funding for them.
The other issue I want to address relating to minimum hour contracts is pension rights and what is accessible by way of pension rights and details. Many employees paid from the public purse, either through the Minister's Department or through section 39 organisations, do not have the benefits of being a State employee. There is an ongoing issue relating to community employment, CE, supervisors. Those people who are working have been paid for by the State over the years. The CE schemes were put in place in the early 1990s. Community groups formed community organisations which were allowed to employ these people and which employed supervisors. The State made no provision about how to ensure that pensions are in place.