News & Media

No excuse now for inaction on discrimination of women workers

28 May 2020

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Labour Party Senator, Marie Sherlock, has said there is no excuse for Government inaction on addressing issues around the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for women returning from maternity leave.

This comes as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has expressed their view to Government that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme contravenes the State’s obligations under EU Law on two grounds for a cohort of women returning to work after maternity leave. Secondly they have said it is within the powers of the current Government and the Revenue Commissioners to remedy this discrimination. 

Senator Sherlock said:

“The Government really have no excuse now not to amend the TWSS for women returning from maternity leave.

“The advice provided by the IHREC is crystal clear, the Government can and should change this scheme.  The current Government has been hiding behind the idea that a new Government and full Seanad must be formed before they can change this scheme. The advice by the IHREC say that this isn’t the case.

“We don’t need primary legislation to fix this issue. The IHREC advice notes that there is a duty on all organs of the State to dis-apply national legislation that contravenes EU law. Recent rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union confirm that this duty to dis - apply is owed not only by the national courts or the Government but also by the administrative authorities.

The Minister for Finance needs to work now with the Revenue Commissioners to remedy this discriminatory situation as soon as possible.

“It is time for the Government to stop dragging their feet. Ministers can’t keep acknowledging the problem but refuse to act. This can be fixed administratively with immediate effect if there is the political will.”