Job flexibility increasingly imposed on workers

Tasc's James Wickham tells Newstalk Breakfast that the State is failing to regulate "bogus self-employment"

A failure to adequately regulate employment in Ireland is costing the State roughly €20m annually in lost PRSI and forcing workers to become increasingly "flexible".

New research from economic think-tank TASC has shown that the Irish are having to deal with more and more employment casualisation and outsourcing.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, lead researcher Prof James Wickham said the situation is not helping workers, but instead benefiting their bosses.

"They’re flexible in the way that suits management rather than suits themselves," Prof Wickham told Ivan Yates.

"The most obvious version is, yes, bogus self-employment as we call it. But also [positions where] you don’t know what hours you’re going to be working next week... and you only hear at very, very short notice.

"So it’s flexibility but, if you like, it’s enforced or imposed."

Of the sectors being most seriously affected, Prof Wickham said:

"We’re talking about hospitality in particular; that’s where this issue of hours comes up. We’re also talking about the construction sector, which was one of the other sectors we looked at."

TASC estimates that the situation cost the Exchequer at least €21 million in 2015, while the reduced PRSI take means the workers in question are not covered for welfare entitlements. The solution?

"There are some fairly straightforward things that could be done.

"One of them is simply to enforce the existing law and the existing regulations. A lot of the problems arise not because we don’t have regulation, but because it’s not enforced.

"It’s quite straightforward, quite old-fashioned, ignoring of regulations.

"The bizarre thing about what’s happening in the construction industry is that the government’s tax system has been designed to make sure there’s little black economy, but what it does do is enable employers to force people into self-employment."