News & Media

Nash publishes Labour Bill to tackle bogus self employment

21 November 2017

Statement by Senator Ged Nash
Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection

Labour Employment spokesperson, Senator Ged Nash has today published a Bill to tackle bogus self-employment contracts that deny workers the same protection and entitlements as their employed colleagues.

The Protection of Employment (Measures to Counter False Self Employment) Bill 2017 would put all workers on an equal footing in situations where they are carrying out the same duties, but are not legally designated as ‘employees’.

Senator Nash said:

“Employers, who force workers into disguised self-employed arrangements when those same workers are, for all intents and purposes direct employees in all but name, deprive workers of both their rights as workers and their social welfare entitlements.

“This behaviour also cheats the State out of tens of millions in lost PRSI income and tax revenue, which means less money for social welfare and for our hospitals and schools.

“These practices are well known in construction, and the phenomenon has spread to sectors including IT, media and culture, transport and logistics and finance and law.

“In 2007, a Code of Practice was introduced with a new set of criteria designed to help determine whether a worker is an employee or a genuinely self-employed sub-contractor.

“Given the alarming growth in false self-employment since the Code was first introduced, it is clear that this initiative has not served these workers well.

“Our Protection of Employment (Measures to Counter False Self Employment) Bill 2017 provides for a holistic approach to the determination and classification of employment status and a set of clear rules in statute law that would apply to all State bodies and enforced across the board by the courts and in all administrative tribunals.

“The Competition (Amendment) Act 2017, a Labour Party initiative, includes for the first time in Irish legislation a definition of the characteristics of bogus self-employment. This new legislation builds on that and extends these tests to the general population.

“The primary motivation of rogue employers who misrepresent the status of their workers is to avoid tax and PRSI liabilities and obligations.

“This Bill amends the Tax Acts to apply tax avoidance laws to the practice of bogus self-employment.

“There is no good reason to why an employer who decides to deliberately misclassify the status of an employee should not be considered to be a tax and PRSI cheat and to have the same penalties applied to them as is the case for other tax avoiders. Critically this Bill extends to PRSI also.

“This measure should act as major deterrent for employers who might consider forcing an employee to go down the false self-employment route.”