Limerick politician critical of splitting employment responsibilities

Niall Collins

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has criticised the decision by the Taoiseach to split labour affairs functions between two Government departments.

Earlier this year Mr Varadkar announced that the new Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection would take over the labour affairs and labour law responsibilities of the Department of Enterprise.

However, Deputy Collins, who is Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, says that new information reveals a muddled and incoherent structure, which sees labour law regulation and enforcement falling between two government departments.

“We now have the situation where the new Department of Employment Affairs has the lead responsibility for regulation of some employment legislation while the Department of Business maintains overarching responsibility for employment legislation in areas such as workplace health and safety as well as employment equality regulations,” he explained.

“The enforcement of all employment legislation via the Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal continues to fall within the remit of the Department of Enterprise, along with lead responsibility for industrial relations.

“I don’t believe that these changes were necessary.  Were any of the social partners or employment policy representatives consulted before this decision was made?  Did officials carry out any assessment of the move?

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“This is an extremely convoluted and confusing situation, with employment legislation falling between two government departments.  Surely it makes more sense for all functions relating to employment legislation to be retained within one department?

“The Taoiseach’s rationale for splitting them is highly illogical and smacks of a new leader more interested in making headlines than in ensuring a cohesive and workable legislative structure,” Deputy Collins stated.