For Oral Answer on : 19/05/2022
Question Number(s): 35 Question Reference(s): 25013/22
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment if there will be a public consultation on the living wage; the approach to be taken for its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I have spoken previously about how the pandemic has caused many of us to reconsider and re-evaluate what an essential worker is. We now understand it is a much broader group of workers than people would have originally described, many of whom are on low pay and in the private sector.
The Government has been clear that a legacy of the pandemic should be better pay, terms and conditions for everyone, but particularly those currently on low pay. We are committed, therefore, to honouring the programme for Government commitment to progressing a living wage over the lifetime of this Government.
In 2021, I asked the Low Pay Commission to examine the programme for Government commitment to progress a living wage over the lifetime of the Government and to make recommendations to me on how best we can achieve this commitment. Following this request, the Low Pay Commission commissioned a team of researchers in the National University of Ireland, NUI, Maynooth, to conduct research on the living wage. This research was to consider the policy, social and economic implications of a move to a living wage and the process by which Ireland could achieve it. The research was to also examine international evidence on living wages, different calculation methods available, the policy implications of moving to a living wage and ultimately outline options for moving to a living wage in Ireland. In January of this year, the Low Pay Commission received the living wage supporting research report from the researchers at NUI Maynooth.
The Low Pay Commission submitted its Living Wage Report to me at the end of March 2022, along with the accompanying research report from NUI Maynooth. Along with my officials, I am currently reviewing the Commission’s report and recommendations. I am considering the next steps required in the progression to a living wage and intend to bring proposals to Government shortly, including the publication of the Commission’s report and the accompanying research report.
I am committed to progressing to a living wage over the lifetime of this Government. In doing so, we need to recognise that many businesses have been badly affected by the pandemic and are also facing rising costs. We need to make sure that we proceed in a way that does not adversely affect inflation or cause jobs to be lost, either in terms of the numbers of people employed, or the numbers of hours worked. To do so would be counterproductive.
While the living wage initiative is being considered, the Government will continue to be guided by the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission with regard to any future changes in the minimum wage. The Low Pay Commission is required to submit its annual recommendation on the National Minimum Wage to me on or before the third Tuesday in July.