While we welcome the reduction in youth unemployment we are concerned about the growing number of young people on low pay and in precarious employment. The most recent data from the NERI Institute on the minimum wage found that 39.1% of young people aged 18-29 years in the labour force were on this rate. We are very concerned at the high number of young workers on such low wages. NYCI made a submission to and met with the Low Pay Commission. We welcome the 50c increase in the minimum wage, but we believe this does not go far enough to discuss the problem of low wages.
NYCI supports the introduction of a living wage to tackle low pay in Ireland. The NERI Institute paper on the impact and challenges of introducing a living wage concluded that, all things considered, the social benefits of a living wage exceeded the inherent challenges of implementation. Last year the Living Wage Technical Group was established to determine a Living Wage for Ireland. The group determined a living wage figure for 2014 and put forth very compelling arguments to support the implementation of a Living Wage. NYCI endorses the recommendations contained in the Report of the Living Wage Technical Group and proposes the gradual introduction of a Living Wage in Ireland. We welcome the recent decision of Government to hold a Living Wage Forum. It is important that this is the start of a process towards the introduction of a living wage.
There is increasing concern about the changing nature of the labour market, with a significant growth in precarious employment and what others refer to as “contingent” labour. Those engaged in internships, temporary work, part-time jobs, zero-hours contracts and sub-contracting comprise an ever growing segment of the labour force. This trend particularly impacts on young people, women and migrants. Many young workers are having the traditional entry into well-paid and secure employment elongated and frustrated by the proliferation of internships and temporary jobs on minimum and low wages. This trend had accelerated since the onset of the economic recession in 2008. A 2013 Eurofound report found that the number of young people aged 15-24 in temporary employment in Ireland increased from 11.2% in 2004 to 34.9% in 2012.
Government has limited powers to interfere in employment contracts except where laws, for example, such as on minimum wages are flouted. This does not mean that Government does not have any leverage. At present Government provides wage subsidies, employment incentives, enterprise grants, tax breaks and other financial supports to private employers to support job creation. The investment of public funds in job creation is welcome, but only where it supports good quality employment and decent work. Public funds should not be subsidising low wages, precarious work and poor quality employment. Therefore we are calling on the next Government to introduce a “Fair Work Certificate” which employers seeking to avail of public funds for job creation and maintenance would be required to hold. This would be similar to the Tax Clearance Certificate, which companies/organisations must hold if they wish to avail of public grants/funds. The criteria for such a certificate would have to be explored and determined, but could be designed to ensure that public funds are only supporting decent pay, and stable and good quality employment.
Living Wage forum welcome, but increase in temporary contracts and precarious work needs to be tackled
NYCI welcomes Government announcement of Living Wage Forum
Government commissioned report on prevalence of Zero-Hours Contracts, October 2015
Report of the Low Pay Commission, July 2015
NERI Working Paper Series-A Profile of those on the Minimum Wage, July 2015
NERI Working Paper Series- The Impacts and Challenges of a Living Wage for Ireland
Young People and Temporary Employment in Europe, Eurofound, January 2014
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