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Restaurants chief calls for end to "ridiculous 1940s" style Sunday pay premium

CEO of Irish Restaurants Association says Sunday premium paid to workers is crippling industry – while employees’ union and Joan Burton fear proposal to cut it will lead to hardship for low-earners.

Staff working on Sundays in some sectors have been entitled to a Sunday premium payout
Staff working on Sundays in some sectors have been entitled to a Sunday premium payout
Image: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr.com

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of Ireland’s Restaurants Association has said that Minister Joan Burton does not recognise the pressure the catering industry is under to keep its head above water.

Bruton, Minister for Social Protection, has suggested that the system of premium payments for Sunday work in sectors like restaurants and retail should not be abolished as that would target many low-income earners.  She told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the Department of Social Protection is looking at what the Government’s Jobs Initiative – which suggests that the Sunday premium payments and overtime should go in these sectors – would mean for workers.

However, Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said that these premium payments are having the effect of restaurateurs having to cut down on the number of staff members they employ. He told TheJournal.ie today:

One thing we need is to get these Joint Labour Committees abolished. I don’t think Joan Burton realises the pressure the industry is under. Why, for example, should a restaurant have to pay an 8 per cent premium to a student who comes in for work and has no experience when such a premium would not be paid to a student in any other job?

Forcing the industry to keep paying this premium is a ridiculous piece of 1940s legislation that needs to be gotten rid of.

The 13 Joint Labour Committees are statutory bodies set up by the Labour Relations Court to set minimum rates of pay in certain sectors of employment.

A new proposal recommended as part of the new Jobs Initiative, announced by Minister for Enterprise and Jobs Richard Bruton, is that the controversial Sunday premium would no longer be a legally binding condition for those working in the hairdressing, retail, grocery, catering and security sectors. That constitutes around 200,000 people.

While the union Mandate stated on the same Morning Ireland programme that it was against the cut of the premium rate, employers’ confederation IBEC echoed the Irish Restaurants Association’s views that it should go.

Adrian Cummins said:

Richard Bruton sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Paying this premium means restaurateurs are having to instead cut the number of people they employ. That’s bad for workers and it’s bad for any restaurant to be getting by with less staff than it needs to be efficient.

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