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Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill, 1996: Report and Final Stages.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 31, after “contract” to insert “for services or”.

Our challenge in framing this Bill is to create the conditions in which young people would have, on the one hand, the right to work, the right to earn money and the right to partake in an enterprise culture and, on the other, that they would not be exploited. Our challenge is to find the correct balance between the rights of young people and their need for protection from exploitation.

In framing this amendment I have particular concern for a category of young people who are often used to do leaflet drops, courier work or to sell magazines on a door to door basis. As the Bill is currently drafted I am not satisfied that such young people have the protection of the law and that is the reason I have framed this amendment. In so doing I have the backing of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions which has expressed concerns similar to mine and which is of the opinion that this Bill [13] will not adequately protect young people engaged in the work I have described unless this amendment is accepted by the Minister. I ask the Minister to accept this amendment and, by so doing, to work for the improvement of the Bill.

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment (Ms E. Fitzgerald): Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald Deputy Quill's amendment would have far-reaching implications that would bring in various kinds of work not normally covered under employment law. I am concerned about the points raised by Deputy Quill. Much more work needs to be done in regard to how we define areas of quasi self-employment and to examine ways to extend employment protection law to such workers. It would not be appropriate in this Bill to single out one particular area until that examination is complete. I have asked my Department to examine in detail areas of atypical work, including sub-contract work, to see how we could extend employment law on a more general basis to such areas. Without the degree of work that would need to be done in terms of refining what we are talking about, we could unintentionally include areas in this legislation that would be totally inappropriate. If somebody is doing a couple of hours casual work, babysitting for example, which is not in the nature of an employment contract, they could be caught under the Bill. That would not be our intention, given the discussions we have had.

I met yesterday representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to discuss our programme for the European Presidency. Under the social Protocol, discussions are taking place between employers and workers at European level on the whole area of atypical work. Those discussions should take place in parallel with what we are doing here. This is a huge area and it is not appropriate to include it in this context. I take on board the spirit of Deputy Quill's amendment and I have asked my [14] Department to review this area in a wider context.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I thank the Minister for her response. I share the concern of Deputy Quill and the Minister that there should not be any exploitation of young workers. During our previous discussions on the Bill consensus was achieved on many points. I am satisfied with the Minister's response to the effect that her Department will review this matter and discuss it with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and others. We are all trying to achieve a balance and at various Stages of this Bill we emphasised that the Bill was too draconian; no doubt that will arise again today on other sections. Our aim is to complement the protections the Minister is trying to put in place.

There was not much general public discussion following our last debate on the Bill but I hope, following Report Stage, there will be a wider discussion and a greater awareness of the rights of young persons in the workplace. There is a move towards part-time work but we, as legislators, cannot allow such a move to develop without putting adequate protections. I will agree to any move the Minister puts forward — we have some proposals also — that will add to that protection. In the light of the Minister's response and the fact that she will pursue the points made by my colleague, my party accepts her bona fides in this matter.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I am grateful to the Minister for her open attitude to the ideas I put forward in the context of this amendment. I am grateful that she has taken on board the spirit and the principle of what I said and that she will return to this important area which must be regulated in law. Employers are in a buyers' market and often young people are desperate for jobs. In that climate young people can be grossly overworked, underpaid and exploited. It is important to lay down in law terms that will give the protection I seek for young [15] people so that they can take up part-time, holiday or after school work etc., but that they will not be underpaid and overworked. I am satisfied that the Minister is sincere about pursuing this matter. I look forward to her introducing the broader provisions which she promised here today so that we can debate them further and put in place proper protections for our young workers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob We come to amendment No. 2. I note that amendments Nos. 14 and 21 are related and that amendments Nos. 3, 5, 22 and 23 are consequential on amendment No. 21. I suggest that amendments Nos. 2, 3, 5, 14, 21, 22 and 23 be taken and debated together if that is satisfactory.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following: “`work' shall not include the supervision of children in a domestic context;”.

The reason I tabled this amendment, as I said on Committee Stage, is that I am not yet satisfied — in spite of what was said in previous debates — we have made it abundantly clear that the activities of babysitting are excluded from the terms of this Bill. Unless we do that, we could have grave difficulties in future. I ask the Minister to spell that our specifically in the context of this Bill.

The purpose of the amendment is to clarify that babysitting activities are excluded from the Bill. It was stated that this would be necessary given that section 4 provides that a person under 16 years of age is not allowed to work after 8 p.m. In the main babysitting takes place after 8 p.m. If that provision remains in the Bill then the activity of babysitting is not properly protected in law. For that reason, I ask the Minister, as so much babysitting takes place after 8 p.m., to exclude specifically and categorically the activity of babysitting which [16] needs a flexibility in time and in terms of hours which is not evident to me or to anyone who has read the Bill and who has spoken on the Bill, in the context of the law as currently drafted. I appeal to the Minister to take this amendment on board.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald Because we are dealing only with contract of service rather than contract for services, the ordinary babysitting which youngsters do for a next door neighbour, a relative and so on does not come under the Bill. If I were to accept this amendment it would mean that where, say, a 17 year old was employed as an au pair or in a crèche full-time in a private house he or she would not enjoy the protections of the Bill. By distinguishing between our contract of service and our contract for services, a regular employee, minding children or otherwise, will be covered and will enjoy the protections of the Bill. However, the Bill will not extend to the normal babysitting which is done under a contract for services, for example, babysitting for a next door neighbour. Casual babysitting is excluded from the Bill. People like Deputy Kitt who, I am sure, enjoys a night out after 8 p.m. can continue to have babysitters to look after his youngsters.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I have live-in babysitters under contract.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I am concerned that people working at a regular job which involves the care of children enjoy the protections of the Bill. That is the reason I am not prepared to accept the amendment. The point being made by the Deputy is already covered.

My own amendments Nos. 3 and 5 are technical. Amendment No. 21 is the substantive amendment. I am advised by the draftsman that in relation to making regulations to exclude people who are employed in a family business or on a family farm, as suggested in Deputy Kitt's amendment No. 14, that I have to give myself this explicit power. [17] That is the reason a new section 9 is being inserted. A close relative can be defined as a person who is employed by a close family member in a private house, or on a farm or in a family undertaking on non-industrial work. Under the provisions of the Bill young people are excluded from industrial work. Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 are consequential following the renumbering. The point raised by Deputy Kitt in amendment No. 14 is covered in amendment No. 21. This will be done by way of regulation under which we will be able to exclude people working in a family business or on a family farm. We can be assured that the regulations are in accordance with the provisions of the directive and that the health, safety and welfare of young people are protected so that there is no possibility of exploitation by a close family member.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt The Minister has responded positively to my amendment No. 14. The question of workers in a family business was raised by members of my party when we discussed this Bill. I thank the Minister for tabling her amendment No. 21. The Minister said that from the advice she has received, this is the best way to pursue this matter. I accept the Minister's amendment because, as I said earlier, we do not want to tie up the parents or young people who are working in that type of environment in bureaucratic red tape and at the same time we want to provide protections for them. As far as I am concerned this can be done by way of regulation while at the same time providing adequate protections under law.

I did not table an amendment on the babysitting question which we discussed on Committee Stage. I am satisfied with the Minister's response — Deputy Quill may think differently — that we can accommodate Deputy Quill's concern. Her amendment stated that “work shall not include the supervision of children in a domestic context”. I think we can accommodate this within the Bill as it stands. It is important that we clarify this matter. My amendment refers to [18] work on family farms or in the agricultural enterprise sector. We should not incorporate in legislation the relationships between parents and children who work in that type of environment. The Minister of State has accommodated my party's concerns on this matter.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I thank the Minister of State for her openness in accepting the essence of Deputy Kitt's amendment. It would be a gross over-regulation of normal family arrangements if we extended the law to incorporate young people who work on family farms. I support the Minister of State's amendment.

In regard to amendment No. 2, a distinction between contract for services and contract of services is legalistic and abstract. However, I accept the Minister of State's good intentions and understanding of the matter. My understanding is not so developed. Will the Minister of State explain the difference between a young person doing au pair work for a specific number of hours per day and a young person baby-sitting for a defined number of hours in the evening? While a formal contract may not be drawn up, many young people baby-sit on a contract basis. It is understood that the baby-sitter will present herself or himself at a given place at a given time to work for a certain number of hours and that is similar to a formal contract. However, I accept the Minister of State's assurance that baby-sitting will be excluded from the application and enforcement of this law. I trust that will be the case and thank her for considering my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, line 5, after “section” to insert “and section 9”.

Amendment agreed to.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I move amendment No. 4:

[19] In page 7, line 13, to delete “8 a.m.” and substitute “6 a.m.”.

I tabled this amendment to cover, in particular, young people who do paper runs. Young people in Cork city deliver papers very early in the morning. I get The Examiner at approximately 7 o'clock each morning. Delivering papers is part of their livelihoods and may be a family tradition. In many cases their parents and grandparents may have delivered papers. If 8 o'clock is included as the time at which young people may start work, we will exclude those who do paper runs and, consequently, cut back on their incomes and family budgets. Under an EU directive the earliest time a child can begin work is 6 a.m. To accommodate those who do paper runs, why can we not bring our law into line with that EU directive? Will the Minister accept my amendment to take account of a small number of people who provide a key service to the public and who depend on that service for their livelihoods?

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt My paper is delivered after 9 o'clock in the morning but it is not The Examiner. While I accept Deputy Quill is trying to cover specific cases, I would be concerned about young people working in the early hours of the morning, whether on milk rounds or paper runs. On the one hand, we are trying to protect children while, on the other, we want them to be able to help their parents on milk rounds and so on. I would like to hear the Minister of State's views on this. I am inclined to agree with the wording of the Bill. While we get many good directives from Europe, we have our own culture and traditions, which include a later starting time for work than applies in many other EU countries and that is not necessarily wrong. I would be concerned about aligning ourselves with Europe in terms of an early work start. I will make my judgment on the basis of the Minister of State's reply, but the [20] inclusion of the Deputy's amendment might open the floodgates.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald While the EU directive provides for a 6 a.m. start for 14 and 15 year-olds, article 16, which is reproduced on page 28 of the Bill, provides that implementation of the directive shall not constitute valid grounds for reducing the general level of protection afforded to such young people in our national legislation. In a 1977 Act we ratified ILO convention No. 79/1946 which covers night work carried out by young people and provides for an 8 a.m. start for 14 and 15 year-olds.

I agree with Deputy Kitt in that we do not have a tradition of starting work very early. The provisions do not apply to family businesses or contract for services where people are employed on a casual basis. An 8 a.m. start should be acceptable for children who are still attending school. We are constrained by international obligations and there are good policy grounds for adhering to an 8 a.m. start.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill I am convinced by what the Minister of State said. On balance, what she and Deputy Kitt propose is more acceptable than my amendment. Therefore, I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 5:

In page 8, line 1, before “Any” to insert “Subject to section 9,”.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob Amendments Nos. 6, 16 and 19 form a composite proposal. Amendments Nos. 7 to 12, inclusive and amendments Nos. 18 and 20 are consequential on No. 6 and amendments Nos. 1 and 2 to amendment No. 6 and amendments Nos. 13 and 15 are related. It is suggested, therefore, that amendment No. 6, amendments Nos. 1 and 2 thereto, [21] amendments Nos. 7 to 13, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 15, 16, 18, 19 and 20 be taken together by agreement. I note, further, that recommittal is necessary in respect of this amendment and the related amendments as they do not arise out of Select Committee proceedings.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 6 to 13, inclusive.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 6:

In page 8, to delete lines 27 to 47 and in page 9, to delete lines 1 to 14 and substitute the following:

6. —(1) An employer shall not employ a young person on any work except where, subject to this section and sections 7, 8 and 9, the employer——

(a) does not require to permit the young person to work for more than 8 hours in any day or 40 hours in any week.

(b) does not require or permit the young person to work——

(i) between 10 p.m. on any one day and 6 a.m. on the following day, or

(ii) between 11 p.m. on any one day (provided the day is not before a school day during a school term where such young person is attending school) and 7 a.m. on the following day, where the Minister is satisfied, following consultation with such representatives of employers and representatives of employees as the Minister considers appropriate, that there are exceptional circumstances affecting a particular branch of activity or a particular area of work as may be prescribed.

(c) ensures that the young person receives a minimum rest period of 12 consecutive hours in each period of 24 hours,

(d) ensures that the young person [22] receives in any period of 7 days a minimum rest period of 2 days which shall, as far as is practicable, be consecutive, and

(e) does not require or permit the young person to do for him or her any work for any period exceeding 4½ hours without a break of at least 30 consecutive minutes.”.

Amendment No. 6 is in substance the same as the proposal we adopted on Committee Stage. Following our discussion on Second Stage and the debate on Committee Stage I moved to allow young people to work up to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and during the school holidays on days when they did not have school the next day. This is the maximum flexibility I was allowed under the terms of the directive and under our ILO obligations. It goes a substantial way towards meeting the concerns expressed in relation to young people involved in weekend working in the catering and pub trades etc. Before our Committee Stage debate I met the Vintners' Federation of Ireland who were satisfied with the proposed change. In essence what we are proposing is what we agreed on Committee Stage.

Deputies Kitt and Quill have tabled amendments aimed at further extending what we are doing in this area. I cannot agree to an 11 p.m. finishing time on every day of the week because we are dealing with young people of school age who are, generally speaking, in the school system. We want to ensure that they are not so exhausted from working midweek that they cannot concentrate on their studies which are probably of the best long-term benefit in terms of their job chances and career prospects. Throughout the Bill we have recognised the value part-time work has for young people of school age. This is being facilitated by extending working hours to 11 p.m. and opening up a range of employments.

Deputy Quill referred specifically to tourism and the hotel, restaurant and café sector. What I am doing is not confined to those sectors. My amendments [23] are tied basically to whether or not there is school the next day, which may be a broader way of dealing with the matter. The sectors mentioned by the Deputy are probably the main sectors involved, but if other sectors emerge that are not covered by the Deputy's amendments we could find ourselves tied down.

Deputies Kitt and Quill are proposing in amendments Nos. 13 and 15 that young people be allowed to work up to 12 midnight at weekends and in certain other circumstances when supervised by an adult. These exemptions would not be possible because of our obligations under the ILO Convention No. 79 and because of Article 16 of the directive which forbids us to reduce the level of protection already in force in the member states. We all share the ideal of having enforceable legislation that will reconcile working life and study for young people. I have taken legal advice in relation to these points. I have pushed out the boat as far as legally possible. This Bill substantially meets the concerns in this area. We are of one mind in regard to what we want to achieve, but I am not in a position to accept the amendments tabled by the two Opposition parties.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt We spent a considerable amount of time on Committee Stage discussing this non-contentious matter and in the end we achieved a good result. The Minister's opening position was too draconian, but she has come a long way since we began our discussions. Having young students in our own families, we were speaking from experience about the reality of young people helping to cover their maintenance costs as they try to study and have a social life. Such work is a necessity, whether we like it or not. At the start of our discussions the Minister's position was that students should not work after 10 p.m. We debated the possibility of extending the working hours to 11 p.m. or 12 midnight. We reached a consensus on 11 p.m. as the finishing time for that [24] type of worker provided it is not on a day before a school day where the young person is attending school. That is the best approach because we are trying to ensure that young people will not be fatigued going into class.

The Minister has met the Vintners' Federation of Ireland and other concerned groups. I had consultations with the trade union movement, youth organisations and the Vintners' Federation to try to get the best possible balance, bearing in mind that our primary focus is to protect the young worker. I got a very positive response from the Vintners' Federation. The Minister has gone as far as she could, given that there is an EU directive with which we have to comply and that we have obligations under the ILO Convention.

Although I would like to see an active committee system in this House, I have some criticisms of it. There are too many committees and it is not possible to attend them all. In this instance we had a particular issue to discuss and we achieved a good result. I thank the Minister and her officials for this amendment which incorporates the views I expressed on Committee Stage. I am willing to withdraw my amendments on the basis of the amendment the Minister is putting forward. She has finally got it right and there is nothing more she can do. The Minister is endeavouring to protect young student workers, accepting that the vast majority must engage in some type of part-time work to subvent their third-level education. In this respect the Minister and her Department have done a good day's work.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill The Minister's amendments constitute a substantial improvement on the original provisions of the Bill. For that reason I support them, withdraw mine and thank her and Deputy Kitt for the amount of time and thought put into them. They have gone as far as possible to create conditions in which young people can engage in [25] holiday or weekend work, to which they have a right. Indeed they have a financial need to engage in such work, which affords them an opportunity to subvent their third-level education, the purchase of books and so on, thus giving them a sense of independence and an opportunity to participate in what might be described as an entrepreneurial pursuit, the benefits of which are substantial and must be provided for in law to the maximum possible extent.

My initial fears were that, if the working hours were too restrictive, young people would be unable to bid successfully for such work, that adults who would be more flexible and more prepared to engage in casual or part-time work would be given preference. However, I am now satisfied the Minister has gone as far as possible and done as well as she can by these young people, on which I compliment her and her officials, and withdraw my amendment.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I thank Members for their comments. We had a very constructive debate on Committee Stage which tenor has been carried forward to today's discussion.

Amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 6 not moved.

Amendment No. 2 to amendment No. 6 not moved.

Amendment No. 6 agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 7:

In page 9, line 16, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (iii)” and substitute “subsection (1) (c)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 8:

[26] In page 9, line 22, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (iv)” and substitute “subsection (1) (d)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 9:

In page 9, line 28, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (iii) and (iv)” and substitute “subsection (1) (c) and (d)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 10:

In page 9, line 40, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (i) and (ii)” and substitute “subsection (1) (a) and (b)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 11:

In page 9, line 41, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (iii) and (iv)” and substitute “subsection (1) (c) and (d)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 12:

In page 10, line 7, to delete “subsection (1) (a) (v)” and substitute “subsection (1) (e)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 12, inclusive, reported.

Amendments Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, not moved.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 16:

In page 10, line 11, after “young persons” to insert “on terms specified in the licence in lieu of any of those referred to in section 6 (1)”.

[27] Amendment agreed to.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 17.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 17:

In page 10, line 18 and 19, to delete “by the employer or group or category of employers”.

This is a technical drafting amendment. The phrase “by the employer or group or category of employers” is not relevant since we are talking about individual employers.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment reported.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 18:

In page 10, line 20, to delete “(a)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 19:

In page 10, line 27, after “young persons” to insert “on terms specified in the regulations in lieu of any of those referred to in “section 6 (1)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 20:

In page 10, line 35, to delete “(a)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 21:

In page 11, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

9. —(1) Sections 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10 shall apply to the employment of close relatives subject to any [28] exclusion or modification of the application of any or all of those sections or any provisions thereof as may be prescribed:

Provided that the Minister is satisfied that——

(a) the regulations are in compliance with the terms of the Directive, and

(b) the health, welfare and safety of the employees affected will not be endangered.

(2) In this section `close relative' means an employee who is employed——

(a) by his or her spouse, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, and

(b) (i) in a private dwelling house or on a farm, in or on which both the employee and employer reside, or

(ii) in a family undertaking on work which is not industrial work.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 22:

In page 11, line 3, before “An” to insert “Subject to section 9*,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 23:

In page 11, line 26, before “Any” to insert “Subject to section 9*,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 24.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I move amendment No. 24:

In page 11, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

[29]“(2) A general exemption shall be available for employees in licensed and catering trades who are employed under the terms of a recognised apprenticeship agreement.”.

This amendment seeks general exemption for young people employed under the terms of a recognised apprenticeship agreement in the licensed or catering trade. I tabled this amendment bearing in mind that there are many such young people who will have decided to pursue a career in the vintners and catering trades. I was anxious to ensure that their working hours would not be interfered with in any way, which takes us back to the 11 o'clock provision already agreed in that, in law, it would be impractical that an employer should be obliged to terminate the employment of, say, a 16 or 17 year-old at 11 o'clock. I am anxious that the law would not interfere with their right to learn the business. There is a fundamental difference between an apprentice and a student, which must be recognised in law, affording an apprentice barman greater flexibility in learning his trade in its totality.

The Minister should endeavour to accomodate their needs in this Bill. While she indicated she was willing to investigate this matter by way of regulation, I am anxious to hear what she has to say and ascertain whether she can allow greater flexibility in the case of apprentices as opposed to students engaging in part-time work.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill Deputy Tom Kitt raised a valid point, there is a need to draw a clear distinction between a student who engages in part-time work and an apprentice engaging in a very structured activity, based on some type of contractual obligation. Perhaps the terms of an apprenticeship are covered in the legislation that sets out and defines the conditions for apprenticeship, but if it is not covered with sufficient clarity, it is important that the substance of Deputy Kitt's very thoughtful amendment would be taken on board. Once upon a [30] time a young person served his time to the bar business and learned his trade from the ground up. Nowadays apprenticeship is much more structured and there is a recognised course in regional technical colleges. I am interested in the Minister's comments on the needs and rights of young apprentices as set out by Deputy Kitt.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald When we discussed this matter on Committee Stage it was my intention that we would deal with this by way of regulation to be made under section 8 rather than by way of a generalised exemption. Under articles 8592 and 10(4) of the directive there is provision for derogations by way of exemptions where there are objective grounds for them and under section 8 we can allow any group or category of employers to employ young people on terms other than those laid down in section 6 by way of regulation where compliance with the terms of the section would be impractical because of the seasonal nature of the work or for other technical or organisational reasons. I have wider powers under section 8 than tying it down to a sector. For example, representations have been made in relation to racing apprenticeships where young people may deal with horses after a race night and work late. That would come under “the seasonal nature of the work or other technical or organisational reasons”. It is preferable to deal with the point raised by the Deputies by way of regulation, where we are able to specify that the terms of the regulation comply with the terms of the directive in relation to the health, safety and welfare of the employee. We are able to put in conditions to ensure that those protections are there while relaxing some of the detailed provisions of the legislation. That is a better way of doing it. I have given an undertaking already on Committee Stage to make regulations, for example, in relation to bar trade apprentices. The provisions of section 8 allow me to make regulations for a group of employers where they have engaged in discussions with appropriate [31] representatives of employers and employees on the proposed changes. The protections in section 8 in relation to regulations are preferable to what Deputy Kitt suggests, but the end product will be the same in terms of offering flexibility to young people to pursue careers through an apprenticeship while at the same time being able to ensure that that flexibility is not being exploited by their employers.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I thank Deputy Quill for her support and the Minister for her response. We have opened up an important debate on the question of careers for young people. The Minister gave the example of an apprenticeship in the world of racing and the more we debate this issue the more we can find other examples of what I refer to. In my amendment I refer to the licensed and catering trades but there is the wider services sector. A young person may decide to pursue a career in one of the service areas, a growing area of employment opportunity. As legislators we should not allow anything to stifle the opportunities these young people have in this sector. The only way young people can find their way is through experience and they may find out that they are natural entrepreneurs. I have made a distinction between the young student who decides to take on part time work to finance third level education and the young person serving his apprenticeship to the trade. The trades are important and serving apprenticeships gives young people an opportunity to break though a barrier and find out what suits them. There are many young people who have come through that system, whether in the catering or licensing business or in other important services areas who end up as entrepreneurs. We are talking about giving young people an opportunity to pursue a career and to learn a trade.

Under section 8, the Minister may introduce regulations that will account for the type of proposal I have put forward. In the light of that response, I am [32] willing to withdraw my amendment. I thank Deputy Quill for her support.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill reported without amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob Amendment No. 25 is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 25, 27, 28 and 29 are consequential on amendments Nos. 26, 31 and 32 which are related. It is suggested, therefore, that we take amendments Nos. 25 to 29, inclusive, 31 and 32 together. Is that agreed? Agreed. Recommittal is necessary in respect of this amendment and related amendments.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 25 to 29, inclusive.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 25:

In page 11, line 39, to delete “section” and substitute “Act”.

In this grouping of amendments the ones of substance are amendments Nos. 26 and 31. Amendment No. 31 provides for a positive vote by the Oireachtas in favour of any regulations made under the section which is an improvement on what was there. That will give the Oireachtas another chance to look at the regulations made for people working in a family business or serving an apprenticeship.

Amendment No. 26 clarifies what happens if somebody working 45 hours a week under the old system now works a maximum of 40 hours a week under the terms of the directive and clarifies the situation on rates of pay. We are talking about hourly rates applying in the new circumstances. The effect of section 12 is to modify any provisions which require the employee to work in excess of the new statutory limit but otherwise leaves the contract agreement in order. Accordingly, the rate of pay expressed in hourly and weekly terms — the normal working week which cannot [33] exceed 40 hours under existing legislation — remains the same.

Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I am satisfied this is a technical amendment. Is the Minister thinking in terms of the EU directive on working times?

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald The directive on working time deals mainly with adult workers who would be limited to 48 hours per week averaged over a four months period. The 1977 Act provides that the normal working week will not exceed 40 hours and the maximum one will not exceed 45 hours. Under this Bill we are reducing the maximum working week and the concept of a normal working week no longer holds. Consequential provisions are included concerning rates of pay and so on. The Bill clarifies that a person earning £4 an hour who works 40 hours a week will receive £160 a week and will not be paid for the missing five hours.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 26:

In page 11, line 45, to delete “section” and substitute “Act and the repeal of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1977, in regard to normal working hours (within the meaning of section 7 of that Act)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 27:

In page 12, line 2, to delete “section” and substitute “Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 28:

In page 12, line 7, to delete “section” and substitute “Act”.

[34] Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 29:

In page 12, line 18, to delete “section” and substitute “Act”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 25 to 29, inclusive, reported.

Amendment No. 30 not moved.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment Nos. 31 and 32.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 31:

In page 19, to delete lines 33 to 40 and substitute the following:

“(2) A draft of every order proposed to be made under section 2 and of every regulation proposed to be made under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the order or regulation, as the case may be, shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I move amendment No. 32:

In page 19, to delete lines 43 to 46 and substitute the following:

“(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Minister may appoint by order.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 reported.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Question, “That the Bill, as amended [35] be received for final consideration” put and agreed to.

Agreed to take Fifth Stage today.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Ms E. Fitzgerald: Information on Eithne Fitzgerald Zoom on Eithne Fitzgerald I thank the Chair, Deputies Kitt and Quill, Deputy Keogh who stood in for Deputy Quill on Committee Stage and Deputy Bell who chaired that Stage. We had a constructive debate on Second, Committee and Report Stages. It demonstrated the strength of our parliamentary democracy in that all sides have discussed the Bill with a great absence of heat, a great injection of additional matter and have improved it through constructive discussion and debate.

This legislation will extend the protections offered to young people. It puts their schooling first while acknowledging the important role work can play during their school years. It brings our law into line with modern European practice and meets our international obligations under the EU directive and the ILO Conventions. I hope the legislation will enhance young people's status in their working environments and ensure their protection against exploitation.

Under the Bill we have built in new protections and raised the minimum working age in terms of regular work in line with the proposed raising of the school leaving age to 16. We have ensured that young people under the age of 16 who work during the summer holidays will be entitled to three weeks' holidays.

I thank my colleagues opposite for their thoughtful and constructive contributions. The constructive debate on this Bill illustrates the strength of the committee and parliamentary systems, that we do not always play politics in this House and that we can, together, produce a Bill that represents a consensus across the House.

[36]Mr. T. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt Zoom on Tom Kitt I thank the Minister and her officials for a constructive response to the proposal we put forward in the early stages of this debate. There has been a gentlemanly debate on this Bill across party lines and we discussed matters in detail. There may be other occasions in this Chamber when we hurl insults at each other, but on this matter there was a common interest in protecting young persons at work. This matter is covered under the Protection of Young Persons Employment Act, 1977, but many of its provisions have not been enforced. This Bill brings home to us that we are part of the greater European Union and that there is an EU directive covering the protection of young people at work. In passing it we will fulfil our duties in implementing that directive and, in doing so, we are dealing with the Irish context.

During the earlier discussion about young people who might do a paper round at 6 a.m., we discussed our culture of work starting time. Through discussions we have managed to produce a Bill which is as well balanced as any that has been passed. We strive to achieve balance in legislation in this House. In this case the Minister listened to the views of the Deputies opposite and consulted youth organisations representing students, the trade union movement and the licensed and catering businesses. The end result is good legislation. I thank the Minister for her co-operation and I look forward to the implementation of this Bill.

Miss Quill: Information on Máirín Quill Zoom on Máirín Quill Deputy Kitt said we had a gentlemanly debate, but I consider it was a very ladylike one. I commend the Minister for bringing her ladylike qualities to bear on those of us who might have been more rowdy about these matters if she had not approached this Bill with great intelligence and openness. I thank her for that.

Under this Bill we are incorporating an EU directive into Irish law in a sensible and constructive fashion. As a [37] result of the enactment of this legislation young people will have greater and balanced protection. The overriding concern expressed by every Member was that young people should give their prior commitment to pursuing their formal education for as long as they wished to do so. We were conscious that we should not put into law anything that would interfere with that. Having proceeded in that spirit, we have put in place provisions that will enable young people to take on part-time and holiday work with the maximum protection of the law. This is a key measure that advances better prospects for young people and their well-being.

I regret that most young people will not be aware of the work undertaken on this Bill in this House during the past number of weeks. Many of them are apathetic about politics and increasingly many of them do not vote in elections. Irrespective of what shortfalls may exist, they are not aware that people have devoted hours of their time and thought to putting in place legislation to advance and promote their well-being. That is our duty and if we were to do less we would not do ourselves justice.

I compliment the Minister for being open to the number of amendments I put forward and her help in steering a good passage for this law through the House.

Question put and agreed to.


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