Fianna Fáil Spokesperson Social Protection Barry Cowen has said he is extremely disappointed that the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has not engaged with employers’ groups about the proposed plans to have the costs of sick leave pushed onto businesses.
Questioning the Minister on the issue in the Dáil today, Deputy Cowen said: “ISME has stated the proposed change could be the death blow for the retail sector. Businesses will be facing an increase of 2% in VAT on top of commercial rates at a time when their turnover and retail spending have reduced. This will be a further imposition on employers and appears to be anti-jobs. Will the Minister elaborate on any discussions she might have had with IBEC and ISME and their response to the proposal? It will, in effect, amount to a sick leave tax on businesses in direct contrast with the Government’s rhetoric on job creation.”
Deputy Cowen asked Minister Burton what analysis had been completed to assess the impact of this measure on employers and what engagement had taken place with the major employers groups IBEC and ISME.
Deputy Cowen said: “I repeatedly asked Minister Burton today if she had engaged with employers on this issue and it is clear that she has not. The Government pushed through the levy on private pension funds, ignoring all the advice and concerns about the damage this could cause. Now businesses are justifiably concerned that same position is being adopted in relation to sick leave.
“Many former employers in the small and medium sector have pushed into unemployment and do not have the cushion of access to the state support provided to others who have been made redundant. I acknowledge that in the upcoming Budget cost-neutral measures may be introduced in this regard. It is only right and proper that a safety net be provided given that the sector has been forgotten in the past 12 to 18 months.”