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Trade union: 'RTÉ can no longer justify bogus employment contracts'

A report found that a quarter of RTÉ freelance contracts have features “akin to employment”.

Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

AN INDEPENDENT REPORT into RTÉ’s freelance contracts has found that a certain amount of contracts with freelancers and contractors bear similarities to those of full-time employees and should be reviewed.

The report, undertaken by Eversheds Sutherland, found inconsistencies in certain roles where some individuals are hired as staff and others engaged as contractors.

Today, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said that the review “confirms what the trade union movement has been arguing over many years”.

Its general secretary Patricia King said RTÉ “can no longer pretend there is not a problem with bogus contracts of self-employment and must make rectifying the situation an immediate priority”.

Holidays, maternity leave, paternity leave, sick pay, access to pensions and the right to apply for promotional posts were denied to those forced to accept what were effectively bogus self-employed contracts in order to make a living.

She added that it would be ”unconscionable for RTÉ to delay the process of rectifying the situation” and that the report “highlights a wider industry problem”.

There can be no hiding behind perceived business needs or imagined prerogatives to justify bogus employment contracts.

The findings include:

  • From a total of 433 contractors reviewed, 106 have been assessed as having “attributes akin to employment” and require individual review with regard to their employment status
  • 51 contractors have been assessed as having “attributes akin to both employment and self employment”, and require review after the above group
  • 276 were assessed as individuals who would not normally be considered as employees, and require no further individual review.

The report recommended that RTÉ should introduce a policy for how and when it employs freelancers, and review its contractors and apply the new policy.

In response to the report, RTÉ said yesterday that it’s committed to developing and implementing such a policy and “as a priority”, will review 106 contractors.

Eimear Cusack, Director of Human Resources, said that the report “has been a valuable exercise and we embrace the recommendations in full”.

“We recognise that the classification of contractors requires a multi-faceted approach.

Each freelancer has their own unique set of circumstance and therefore as part of this process we will be speaking with all those affected individually to ascertain the most appropriate status for them.

“We expect to have the policy and guidelines in place by September at which point the individual reviews will commence with a view to being completed by the end of the year.”

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