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Employment

Employment numbers have been a major “good news story” in Ireland’s economic recovery and Budget 2020 is an opportunity to take steps to ensure these positive trends continue. Social Justice Ireland has, in our recently launched Budget Choices 2020 submission, identified a number of areas for investment.

While we welcome the fall in the proportion of employees earning the minimum wage or lower, the fact is that despite very welcome increases in the NMW in the last few years, it remains about 18 per cent below the living wage. It is long past time that government set a five-year timeframe to close the gap between the National Minimum Wage and the living wage, and implement a system of Refundable Tax Credits in Budget 2020 to help mitigate the issue of in-work poverty.

Work and a job are not always the same thing.  Work is far more than just paid employment, and with this in mind it is time to develop policies that ensure all forms of work are supported, valued and recognised.

The headline social inclusion targets addressed in the Irish National Reform Programme are focussed on employment, education and ‘poverty and social exclusion’.  How is Ireland performing on the social inclusion aspects of our National Reform Programme and our Europe 2020 targets?

This report was compiled by Social Justice Ireland in light of the Europe 2020 Strategy and its high-level targets, and of Ireland’s National Reform Programme. It is the latest in a series that has tracked Ireland’s performance for many years.

People with disabilities face considerable challenges in terms of access to the labour market.  The Census 2016 data revealed that there was 176,445 persons with a disability in the labour force in Ireland, representing a participation rate of 30.2 per cent, less than half that for the population in general. These findings reflect earlier results from Census 2011, the 2006 National Disability Survey.    People with a disability are also among the groups most likely to be affect by persistent joblessness. 

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 came into force today, March 4th 2019. This piece of legislation has as its objectives the provision 'for a requirement that employers provide employees with certain terms of employment within a certain period after commencing employment; to impose sanction for certain offences; to further provide for a minimum payment due to the employees in certain circumstances; to prohibit contracts specifying zero as the contract hours in certain circumstances and to provide for the introduction of banded contract hours; to further provide for prohibition of penalisation and for those purposes to amend certain other pieces of employment law'.

Under-employment seems to have stopped falling. Yet at over 100,000 people it remains high and this spare economic capacity might, at a practical level, mean that thousands are struggling financially. It also suggests that we are further from full employment than government would like us to believe and these under-employed people could, along with some other categories, conceivably swell real unemployment numbers by almost 170%.

With reports this week of another multi-national aiming to replace call centres with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Ireland needs to invest in human capital to prepare for the impact of digitalisation.

This annex accompanies chapter 5 – Work, Unemployment and Job Creation of Social Justice Matters 2019: a guide to a Fairer Irish society

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