Workers' Rights
Labour Party Manifesto 2020

Work is changing. A job for life doesn’t exist anymore. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have better pay, job security and the ability to balance work, family and other commitments. Too many are underpaid, and wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, especially for young workers and young families. People need a pay rise.

Labour will guarantee everyone the right to be represented at work by a trade union, and employers will be required to negotiate with their employee’s representatives. This system, collective bargaining, is the norm across Europe and it underpins the productivity and resilience of the Northern European economies. We will ensure a right of access for trade union representatives to workplaces, including through constitutional change if required.

Labour will raise the minimum wage to be a real living wage, within three years. The Low Pay Commission will have the role of setting out how the minimum wage will remain above two-thirds of median income (as it was originally in 2000) and sufficient to provide a minimum essential standard of living.

Labour will tackle the gig economy. We will eliminate bogus self-employment and ‘if and when’ arrangements and we will enforce a right to certainty of working hours for people in precarious employment. We will introduce measures to protect against victimisation.

Labour will strengthen measures to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers.

Labour will fully implement the employment strategy for people with disabilities, and will develop incentives and supports so that more employers take on workers with disabilities. These measures will include grants for work space adjustments and training. Ireland lags behind many European countries in getting people with disabilities into employment. This policy has the potential to immensely improve people’s quality of life and their financial independence, while also reducing poverty and the need for social protection payments. This strategy will include specific measures on neurodiversity.

Labour will implement a National Flexible Working Strategy, working with trade unions and employers at the National Economic and Social Council. The strategy will develop good practice standards for permitting people to work from home or from other locations. The strategy will pay particular attention to the gender dimension of work-life balance, given that women are still disproportionately the primary caregivers for children. Labour will give full effect to the new Work-Life Balance Directive.

Labour will introduce a right to flexible working hours where an employer only has to make a reasonable adjustment to allow for them, to reduce stress and wasted time from commuting, and to facilitate work-life balance for parents and carers in particular.

Labour will introduce two new public holidays, to bring Ireland up to the European average of 11 paid public holidays.

Labour will review the evidence for a shorter working week without loss of pay, including approaches such as the six-hour day and the four-day week, and we will implement findings that are consistent with good work-life balance, high productivity and safeguarding worker’s pay levels.

Labour will implement a right for employees to switch off from work email and phone calls when outside of work hours and when not compensated for this extra activity.

Labour will provide an incentive for employers to end compulsory retirement at 65 in employment contracts, and allow people to work until the State Pension age or longer. For the lifetime of the next government, employers will not have to pay employers’ PRSI for workers aged 65 or over.

Labour will oblige all public bodies and all organisations in receipt of public money to implement Labour Court recommendations.

Labour will ensure our industrial relations mechanisms are sufficiently resourced, including the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission. Labour will strengthen the systems by which work conditions are monitored and enforced, to root out bad employment practice and failure to comply with legal standards. Labour will enforce measures to prevent and stop workplace bullying.

Labour will restore tax relief for trade union membership on the same basis as professional association fees.

Labour will implement a right to lifelong learning, working with trade unions and employers at the National Economic and Social Council, and with public agencies like Solas. Employers will be given incentives to ensure that all employees have access to in-work training and learning opportunities. This policy is designed to offset Ireland’s low uptake of in-work training and education. Labour will consult with organisations like the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (INOU) to ensure training is aligned with people’s needs.

Labour will remove the ability of employers’ groups or trade unions to block a decision on a sectoral wage agreement, by changing the law on Joint Labour Committees so that they are not prevented from meeting if either party refuses to attend.

Labour will provide protections for workers who miss work in extreme weather conditions.

Labour will require businesses and public agencies with 50 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap in their annual reports, as well as the remuneration of top executives and the gender breakdown of company directors.

Labour will prevent a repeat of the situation that left the taxpayer to pay for Clerys workers redundancy payments, while the assets were stripped. We will change the Companies Act to allow the debts of a company in liquidation, including unpaid wages, to be recovered from associated companies in a group. We will amend the legislation to cover informal or “deemed” insolvencies where the employer has ceased trading or where payments to employees have ceased for six weeks or more.