Retail group calls for PRSI reduction for low-paid workers

While Retail Excellence Ireland welcomes a proposed minimum wage increase, it has "one major caveat"...

Retail Excellence Ireland has offered its support for a 10c increase in the national minimum wage to €9.25 per hour, but has argued that the Government should take the financial burden off employers in the future.

Speaking to Vincent Wall on Business Breakfast, Director of Communications Lynn Drumgoole welcomed the minor increase "in the context of motivation people and talent retention" but had "one major caveat".

She said: 

"The ongoing cost can't be sustained by businesses. We'd be calling on the Government to look at reducing the PRSI for low-paid workers and especially in the context of the Brexit and competitiveness in general.

"It's difficult for businesses to continue to budget if there's an annual reveal. And we would be looking towards the Government to change the framework of the [Low Pay Commission] to report every two to three years as well."

The Low Pay Commission made its annual recommendation on Tuesday, with employers and business organisations such as Chambers Ireland, the National Restaurants Association and the Irish Hotels Federation criticising the report.

They argue that many small labour-intensive businesses will not be able to afford the increase and that it will make business less competitive in an post-Brexit, weaker sterling environment.

While Retail Excellence Ireland, which represents 16,000 stores across the country, is in favour of the extra 10c per hour, they do not want another increase for several years.

"I think it's fair in terms of business perceptions and looking forward," Drumgoole said.

"If there's always going to be a reveal halfway through the year, it's very difficult for businesses to consider what they might want to do in terms of growth strategies and even increasing the working hours of staff.

"So it would be better to allow businesses to budget in terms of a two to three year stage."