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FOI reveals bias in Low Pay Commission tips investigation – Senator Paul Gavan

4 March, 2019 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Workers’ Rights Paul Gavan has discovered through a Freedom of Information request that the Low Pay Commissions (LPC) investigation into the regulation of tips was heavily weighted towards the voice of employers and big business.

The FOI request reveals that the LPC invited 18 groups to make a submission to the process, yet only 5 of those groups were employee representatives.

The other 13 groups consisted of the likes of; The Restaurant Association of Ireland, Irish Hotels Federation, IBEC and the Vintners Association.

The LPC’s report has also received criticism for its lack of evidence-based research, for its inability to offer a solution to the issue, and for its use of taxation as a “smoke screen” to avoid giving workers adequate protection.

Speaking earlier today, Senator Gavan said:

“Our FOI reveals that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s investigation into tip exploitation was been flawed from the beginning.

"Out of 18 invitations, only 5 were sent to employee representative groups.

“Despite this issue being of particular relevance to the hospitality industry, a sector dominated by female and migrant workers, the likes of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, TASC and Social Justice Ireland were also excluded from the LPC’s invitation list.

“The decision by the LPC to weight this investigation in favour of the voice of employers and to marginalise the voice of workers has unsurprisingly resulted in a report that reflects that bias.

“In its conclusions, the LPC argues that there is insufficient data to prove that tip exploitation actually occurs in Ireland.

"This is despite the fact that research carried out in the Galway hospitality sector in 2018, found that among 400 workers, 1 in 3 regularly have their tips withheld by their employer.

“Considering the LPC prides itself on its ‘evidence-based approach’, it is disappointing that despite having a full year to produce this report, the Commission didn’t actually use or carry out any evidence based research on the issue.

“Secondly, the report fails to offer any proposal to the Department with regards to how we can put an end to the theft of tips by employers.

"The LPC supports this claim by pointing out that there was a lack of consensus on the Commission. Considering both IBEC and ICTU sit on the Commission, did they really expect there to be consensus around workers’ rights?

"Is the protection of workers’ rights now contingent upon having IBEC’s support?

“Finally with regards to the LPC’s flirtation with tax implications, I would like to reference Richard Grogan, an Employment Law Specialist, who called the report 'quite incredible...the arguments around tax are being used as a smokescreen to avoid addressing the rip off of customers and staff'.

"We wholeheartedly agree with Mr Grogan.

“Sinn Féin will not allow IBEC and co to stand in the way of hospitality workers being given a legal right to their tips.

"We will be moving this Bill to Report and Final stage in April and I have written to the Department requesting a meeting as soon as possible.”

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