Sir, - In your Business Page (December 9th), you rapped ISME across the knuckles for appearing to argue against the extension of maternity leave. Not so. Our press release began by stating "that a good case" can be made for extending it.
The thrust of ISME's argument is:
Social provisions in themselves are most often admirable and desirable. The problem is the associated cumulative cost especially in the case of small businesses. That is a belief shared by successive governments in stated policy. Indeed they committed themselves to undertake cost impact analysis into all items of regulatory impositions which would affect small businesses.
The decision with respect to the extension of maternity leave was taken behind closed doors and the representatives of smaller businesses were not given an opportunity to propose measures that may have alleviated the burden. Obviously two people from a staff of 10 on maternity leave is a significant problem when compared to two staff employees from a staff of hundreds.
The association notes and welcomes Mr Des Geraghty's frank and open admission last week that national agreements are increasingly engaged in areas other than wage agreements - a fact that is neither widely understood nor appreciated. Concessions in those areas impose costs on the wider business community. It is time to democratise the decision-making process and consult with all those who will ultimately bear the cost of these social provisions. - Yours, etc.,
Jim Curran, Head of Research, ISME, 17 Kildare Street, Dublin 2.