News & Media

Labour’s bogus self-employment bill must be progressed following PAC recommendations

24 June 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht
  • Labour Bill would give platform workers in the gig economy access to rights and protections.
  • Brings our employment code up to date and stamps out bogus self-employment.
  • Allows access to information about the algorithms that decide their pay and performance.

Responding the PAC report published today, Labour employment affairs spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock welcomed the committee’s investigation into bogus self employment in this country.  

Noting the PAC’s call for increasing site inspections and for statistics on visits, interviews and classifications be published, Senator Sherlock has said this welcome but this is not enough. She said that the Government must respond to the Committee’s recommendations for stronger legislation in this area and that Labour’s Bill recently introduced in the Seanad to effectively stamp out self employment must be addressed.  

Senator Sherlock said:

“For a number of years now, we know that the capacity of the Revenue Commissioners and the SCOPE unit in the Department of Social Protection to investigate bogus self employment is far from sufficient. Recommendations to set down a minimum of site inspections is to be welcomed, although setting it is at 2019 levels reflects a huge lack of determination to truly tackle the issue.

“Ultimately, only a change in legislation will deter rogue employers from falsely classifying workers as self employed. The State has a responsibility to ensure that all workers, regardless of their employment status, have access to fair rights and protections. Right now, workers who are bogusly self employed cannot access their full social protection entitlements in the event of ever needing them.

“In May, Labour introduced a bill in the Seanad to ensure that all workers are classified as employees by default with workers only able to opt-out of this if they can meet a well defined criteria for self employment. It would ensure that platform workers are being recognised as employees while also providing access to information about the algorithms that manage their pay and performance assessment. Our Bill also seeks to lay the foundations for these workers to achieve fair pay to help prevent exploitation and address in-work poverty. 

“To date, we know from reports by trade unions, by workers coming forward to us and from concerns articulated by the Comptroller and Auditor General that reliance on a code of conduct produced by the Revenue Commissioners has not delivered the intended outcome. Bogus self employment remains a key feature, most notably in the construction sector, and is an intrinsic part of how many platform companies now operate. In order to stamp out bogus self employment we need to equip investigators with proper tools to assess workers and we need to ensure that employers can be prosecuted accordingly."