Bogus self-employment: Unite says workers and taxpayers effectively subsidising unscrupulous employers

unite-white-out-of-redUnion says Government consultation must be followed by action

January 31st: Unite today welcomed the Government’s consultation on bogus self-employment and expressed the hope that the consultation process will be followed by concrete action.  The consultation follows a high-profile strike in2014/2015 by Unite members working on a JJ Rhatigan site at the government-funded Kishoge Community College site, where the Department of Social Protection subsequently found that the workers had in fact been employed.

Commenting on the consultation, Unite Regional Officer for Construction, Tom Fitzgerald, said:

“Unite welcome’s the consultation process and will be making a submission.  This is a serious issue affecting workers in the construction sector, where around 50 per cent of all workers are categorised as self-employed.  In my experience, many of those workers are in fact bogusly self-employed:  to all intents and purposes they are employed, but the ‘end user’ employer uses a web of sub-contracting to avoid their obligations.

“The ICTU has estimated that bogus self-employment costs the Exchequer around €80 million each year, and I believe this to be a conservative estimate. The cost to individual workers is substantial: the end-user employer avoids paying employer’s PRSI contribution, so the worker loses out on a range of benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay, unemployment benefit, and employer pension contributions.

“In effect, bogus self-employment means that workers and taxpayers end up subsidising unscrupulous employers.

“Unite will be making a submission to the consultation process, and we hope that the current political interest in bogus self-employment will outlast the General Election campaign and result in concrete measures to protect both workers and the Exchequer”, Tom Fitzgerald concluded.

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