TACKLING BOGUS SELF EMPLOYMENT

When I was Minister for Social Protection I commissioned a report investigating the phenomenon of “Bogus Self Employment”. This is where employees are forced to designate themselves as self employed despite the fact they have only one client and cannot engage in similar work for any other company.

In the era of zero hour contracts and the gig economy bogus self employment is becoming a growing problem impacting on people’s pension entitlements, social welfare benefits and PSRI contributions.

Speaking last night on the lack of action by the Fine Gael lead government on the matter Labour Party chair Jack O’ Connor stated:

“The labour market is increasingly hallowed out and fragmented. The recovery is generating a considerable number of highly skilled, well paid jobs at the top, which are very welcome. However, there is increasing evidence of an ongoing “hollowing out” of traditionally secure, reasonably paid, long term jobs in the middle. These are being replaced by an exponentially growing “precarious” category at the bottom. Here the entire variety of exploitative employment relationships reside, from low pay, to rotating temporary contracts, zero hour and “if and when” contracts, through involuntary permanent part – time work to Bogus Self Employment. This phenomenon is no longer restricted to people who are less skilled or educated, but is increasingly prevalent even among highly qualified workers.

“It is either denied by those in authority, or when confronted with incontrovertible evidence lamely attributed to the vagaries of the modern labour market. Our young people deserve better than this indifferent response from those charged with public policy formulation and implementation,” he said.

“Apart from repairing the damage inflicted on our public housing, health care, education and childcare services during the crisis years, the other priority must be the provision of Decent Jobs for all. Our young people need to be able to plan their lives, to get a mortgage or a car loan or to fund further education to equip themselves for the age of digitalisation. They need to be able to realistically look forward to establishing their own families in a reasonably secure environment. All this requires secure and Decent Jobs,” he added.

“Its not enough to allow the market to function independently. There is a requirement for enhanced and coordinated Government intervention. This must embrace a range of measures from increased public investment in scientific research, grant and equity aiding new start up businesses subject to compliance with a quality employment standard, focussing on continuous reskilling for the age of digitalisation, while legislating to stamp out employment abuses and providing all workers with a right to representation for the purpose of collective bargaining, if they wish to avail of it,” he concluded.

ENDS