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RTÉ Drivetime investigates bogus self-employment practices at RTÉ

The investigation was part of an ongoing Drivetime examination into bogus self-employment practices by Irish employers.

File photo
File photo
Image: RollingNews.ie/Photocall Ireland

RTÉ DRIVETIME HAS investigated issues around bogus self-employment practices at RTÉ.

Reporter Philip Boucher-Hayes looked into the offering of long-time workers at the broadcaster contracts which require them to register themselves as self-employed (rather than full-time contracts with employment benefits at the station).

The investigation was part of an ongoing Drivetime examination into bogus self-employment practices by Irish employers.

Boucher-Hayes kicked off the segment saying that there was no evidence that RTÉ was “any better or worse” than other media organisations within the Irish media sector.

“But the phenomenon is endemic within the sector. It is rife within RTÉ,” he said.

It would be unfair of this programme to point the finger of blame at other news or other media organisations without first examining what is going on here at RTÉ.

The report found that there were two tiers of employment at RTÉ.

The first are PAYE workers who have contracts and the full range of employment benefits that go with them.

The second tier workers will do the same job as the first but have none of the benefits afforded to them.

“They’re self-employed and they’re not self-employed because they choose to be,” said Boucher-Hayes.

They’re self-employed because RTÉ requires them to effectively sign away those rights and become self-employed in order to get paid for the work that they are doing

At RTÉ, once a worker earns over €2,000 they are made to sign an contract.

For many workers the only contract made available is one that requires them to be self-employed.

This practice applies to workers across the range of different positions at RTÉ.

Commenting during the report, head of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley said that the only way many workers could continue to work at RTÉ was to sign these contracts that negate their working rights.

“If you refuse to sign you don’t get the work,” said Dooley.

“If you do sign you have no right to go to the Workplace Relations Commission or to have your case adjudicated.

RTÉ also says you can’t be represented by a trade union even if you want to challenge your status.

Dooley said workers who had been on these contracts for years were unable to challenge their status at the company.

“There is nothing voluntary about that. Because if you don’t sign it you do not have any job security, if you sign it you are in an ambiguous position – you are a vulnerable worker but at least you have work,” he said.

RTÉ representatives declined the request for an interview from Drivetime on the practice.

In response to a detailed request for information from Drivetime, RTÉ said that it would be addressing the issue around these contracts at some unspecified time in the future.

Boucher Hayes said he had asked questions to RTÉ around how many people were working on these self-employed contracts at the broadcaster but that it was unable to give an answer.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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