The Government has "no plans" to introduce a new category of employment for workers in the gig economy, which would extend to them the same rights as those of staff in more secure forms of employment, Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert Troy has said.
Mr Troy was speaking in the Seanad on Friday, days after a landmark ruling against Uber by the UK supreme court, which said the ride hailing app’s employees were workers rather than being self-employed.
Fianna Fáil senator Mary Fitzpatrick said Deliveroo riders and those working for similar delivery companies had provided a "vital and essential service" to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Because they are in this no-man’s-land, they have no employment rights, no insurance cover if they are robbed, mugged, or in any way injured during the time they are carrying out their work,” she said.
Fine Gael senator Mary Seery Kearney said the UK ruling would lead to a "hybrid" category of employment "that marries the gig economy type flexible model of self-employed with basic employment rights", adding: "We don't have that category here."
In response, Mr Troy said the Department of Social Protection was “revising and updating” the code of practice for determining the employment and self-employment status of individuals to reflect new working models.
“Ireland has a robust suite of employment rights that protects all employees equally,” he said. “All employers carry the same obligation when it comes to the compliance with employment rights.
“Ireland has always resisted the creation of sub-categories of employment as this would inevitably lead to a race to the bottom where hard won employment rights are gradually eroded. Therefore, the Government has no plan to create a third category of employment.
“It’s not clear under what criteria a person would be deemed to fall into this third category of employment where they would be neither an employee or self-employed.
“We would essentially be creating a lesser category of employee who we acknowledge is not self-employed, but to whom we would not afford the full suite of employment rights to which they are currently entitled.”