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Minister Nash calls for applications for membership of Low Pay Commission

15th December 2014

The Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, is calling for people from worker and employer backgrounds, civil society groups and labour market experts to apply for membership of the new Low Pay Commission.

The Low Pay Commission is being established to advise the Government on the appropriate rate of the National Minimum Wage on an annual basis. It was a commitment outlined by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in the Government’s statement of priorities agreed in July.

The nine member Low Pay Commission will be made up of:

  • An independent chairperson
  • Three people with a deep understanding of the interests of low paid workers, preferably with a proven track record of working on behalf of the low paid
  • Three people with a deep understanding of employer interests, preferably where the national minimum wage is relevant and who have good knowledge of issues such as labour costs and competitiveness challenges facing Irish businesses
  • Two members with experience of economics, labour market economics, statistics or employment law

 

Up until now, the National Minimum Wage could be changed following a recommendation in a national agreement, a recommendation by the Labour Court or unilaterally by the Minister.

Minister Nash said, “The setting up of the Low Pay Commission represents the delivery of an important Government commitment and continues the dignity of work agenda I am pursuing in my portfolio.”

“Work should always pay. But I am also conscious of the need to balance a basic statutory minimum pay rate that is fair, with one that is sustainable and which allows employers to continue to create quality jobs.”

“I want to see the minimum wage progressively increased where the economic circumstances, the demands of job creation and social conditions and requirements converge. It represents a floor beneath which no working person should be allowed to fall.”

“It will be up to the Low Pay Commission to examine these issues on an evidence basis and revert to Government with a recommendation.”

The Low Pay Commission is expected to consider a range of issues in making their recommendation, including:

  • the changes in earnings since the minimum wage was last increased in 2011
  • the unemployment and employment rates generally
  • the expected impact of a change to the minimum wage on employment, the cost of living and national competitiveness
  • changes in income distribution and
  • currency exchange rates

 

The Commission will be asked to consult with appropriate interest groups and people, including directly with workers who are on the minimum wage and employers in sectors associated with low pay.

They will also examine relevant data from organisations like the CSO and be able to commission research to fill in any data gaps.

“We are essentially taking the politics out of setting the National Minimum Wage,” continued Minister Nash. “I would like to see high calibre people from worker, employer and academic backgrounds put themselves forward to serve on the Low Pay Commission. In keeping with the new procedures on appointments to State Boards, interested parties can apply to be a member via www.stateboards.ie  from today.”

The current rate of the National Minimum Wage is €8.65. It was last increased in July 2011, when the Fine Gael/Labour coalition reversed a €1 cut to the rate which was imposed by the previous Government.

The Public Appointments Service is assisting the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in this recruitment process. The positions are being advertised via www.stateboards.ie  with a closing date for expressions of interest of January 12th.

The Low Pay Commission will be set up on a non-statutory basis initially pending an amendment to the National Minimum Wage Act, which is expected to be made next Spring.

As well as recommending the rate of the National Minimum Wage, the Low Pay Commission can be asked to examine related matters and any such request would be agreed and given to the Commission when its annual work programme is outlined in February of each year.

A budget of €500,000 has been secured for the work of the Commission in 2015.

ENDS

For more information contact Deirdre Grant 01 6312227 or 086 0484 279

Press Office DJEI 01 631 2222 or press.office@djei.ie