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Minister Mitchell O’Connor to exempt key self-employed groups from Competition Act

Freelance Journalists/Voice over Actors/Session Musicians to gain exemption from Competition Act for Collective Bargaining

Cross Party support for Bill

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, welcomed the cross-party agreement in Seanad Eireann today (10 November 2016) to introduce exemptions from competition law for certain self-employed workers.

The Competition (Amendment) Bill was introduced by the Labour party as a Private Members Bill. The Minister, working with Senators Ivana Bacik and Ged Nash, has introduced amendments to the bill which allow for specific exemptions aimed at protecting vulnerable, self-employed workers.

The amended Bill provides that when it is enacted, three categories of workers (voice-over actors, session musicians and freelance journalists) will be exempt from section 4 of the Competition Act 2002 and be allowed to engage in collective bargaining. In addition, a formal process is set out allowing trade unions apply for similar exemptions for certain categories of self-employed workers.

Commenting on the Competition (Amendment) Bill, the Minister stated: “The original Bill was aimed at protecting vulnerable self-employed worker as initiated. Whilst understanding the principle behind the original Bill, I was very seriously concerned about the scope of the Bill and the impact it would have on the Exchequer. However, having worked with both Senator Bacik & Nash, I believe we have found the best way forward.

I feel we have the appropriate balance now between protecting vulnerable workers and ensuring fair competition in the market. It is important that certain categories of workers are protected and have the right to collective bargaining. I want to promote quality secure employment and this bill assists with that.

I am delighted that the Senator and her party, along with other Senators in Seanad Eireann, have worked in a collaborative manner with the Government to ensure a more targeted measure has been agreed and that the focus of the Bill is on vulnerable self-employed workers.”

The Minister also stated, “This legislation is a positive example of co-operative politics. I look forward to similar collaboration in the Oireachtas in the future.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, ph.  6312221 or press.office@djei.ie 

Note for editors:

The amendments insert a new Part 2B into the Competition Act 2002 and provide for the application of section 4 of the Competition Act to collective bargaining and agreements in respect of certain categories of workers. In summary, a new process is proposed which provides:

  • that a trade union can apply to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for an exemption from the application of section 4 of the Competition Act 2002 to collective bargaining and agreements in respect of specific classes of self-employed workers;
  • for the evidence that must be provided in such an application;
  • that the Minister may prescribe by Ministerial Order, following consultation with any other Minister of the Government or any other person or body who ought to be consulted, such classes of self-employed workers to be exempt from section 4 of the Competition Act 2002;
  • for the review of any Ministerial Order in certain circumstances.

 

A new Schedule 4 is also being inserted into the Competition Act 2002 to give effect to a previous Government commitment given in "Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 - Amendment of the Competition Act 2002”. The new Schedule exempts those three activities outlined in the “Towards 2016” commitment, namely actors engaged as voice-over actors, musicians engaged as session musicians and journalists engaged as freelance journalists from Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002. The exemption will come into effect when the Bill enters into force and an application for exemption will not be required for the 3 activities listed in the Schedule.

Finally, the amendments allow the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to bring the Act into operation by order and different days may be appointed for different purposes. However, it also provides that the entire Act shall come into operation no later than 3 months after its enactment.

The Bill will now be transmitted to Dáil Eireann for its consideration.

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