Varadkar: part-time work is not always necessarily a bad thing

Opposition claims some employees exploited by short-term contracts

Taoiseach tells the Dáil ‘some people want to work part-time’ during a debate on precarious work. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Taoiseach tells the Dáil ‘some people want to work part-time’ during a debate on precarious work. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Part-time work is not always necessarily a bad thing, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

“Some people want to work part-time and have their own reasons for doing so,’’ he said.

Mr Varadkar said the most recent statistics showed 7.2 per cent of employees were in temporary employment in 2008; 8.7 per cent in 2011; 7.1 per cent last year.

“While the number of temporary employees overall may have increased because there are more people working, the percentage of the workforce in temporary employment is lower than it was eight years ago,’’ he added.

“That is an important fact for people to be aware of.’’

Mr Varadkar said the number of self-employed in the workforce was only one per cent higher than it was eight years ago.

“Being in part-time employment, or being self-employed, is not a bad thing,’’ he added. “In my view, it can be good for many people.’’

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil work had changed fundamentally in the past 30 or 40 years.

“I believe most people now in their 20s or 30s will work for a number of different employers,’’ he added.

“They may be self-employed for a period of time, often by choice, sometimes perhaps not.’’

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said there was a problem of precarious work.

“That is essentially work that is insecure and unpredictable, including low-paid work, work with limited or no benefits, and work in unsafe and unhealthy workplaces,’’ he added.

He said he understood there was staff in Leinster House on short-term, lower-hours contracts.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said there were “rampant bogus self-employment and poor conditions and pay’’ in the construction industry.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he was with other members of the House on the issue.

“We are awaiting legislation on that,’’ he added.