Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has called on the Government to end the uncertainty over damaging proposals on employers’ liability for staff sick pay. 

Fine Gael and Labour last night voted down a Fianna Fáil motion in the Dáil calling on the Government to scrap foolish plans on statutory sick pay.

Deputy Calleary said the threat alone of having to bear the cost of employee sick pay is already affecting employment, with many businesses holding off on recruitment until they know whether Minister Burton will press ahead with her plan in Budget 2013.  

“The biggest issue facing business at the moment is the complete lack of certainty in the economy.  When a Minister decides to play poker with SMEs, as Joan Burton is now doing, it just adds to this uncertainty and hinders businesses,” said Deputy Calleary. 

“It became clear during the debate in the Dáil this week that there is considerable unease, particularly within Fine Gael, about Minister Burton’s proposal. The Finance Minister Michael Noonan himself admitted that Minister Burton is fully aware of employers’ concerns about her proposal, and of cost to SMEs and the impact on employment levels. A number of Fine Gael deputies sought a fact-based analysis on the sick pay scheme. I agree with them. Minister Burton does not seem to have many facts at her disposal, or if she does she is not willing to use them. 

“The bottom line is that the SME sector, which is the backbone of the Irish economy, remains in crisis.  While I recognise that Minister Richard Bruton has made some small progress to free up credit for small businesses in recent weeks, Joan Burton’s proposals will wipe this fragile foundation away in one fell swoop. If she gets away with putting what she has admitted is an €89 million burden on business, she will destroy the growth potential of small businesses across the country.  And jobs will be lost.

“Perhaps Minister Burton simply doesn’t understand the SME sector.  But we heard some reasonable comments from Minister Noonan this week and I hope he will go back to Cabinet and put an end to this madness.  This is not the time to leave small businesses in a perpetual state of uncertainty; the Government must stand up for SMEs and but this matter to bed once and for all,” said Deputy Calleary.