Welfare income threshold a deterrent to returning to work, group says – The Irish Times
Some people choose not to accept work in the hospitality and tourism sector due to tax income and social protection thresholds, a small business representative organization has said.
On Friday, Fáilte Ireland released a report which found that nearly 90% of businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector are still struggling to recruit staff.
According to the study, more than 71% of hotel companies that hire have raised their salaries in an effort to attract staff, while almost two-thirds guarantee staff the “predictability” of their working hours.
Neil McDonnell, chief executive of Isme, Ireland’s association of small and medium-sized enterprises, said staff shortages are widespread “across all areas” in services and manufacturing, with each area reporting “some difficulties”.
Mr McDonnell said that while hours and wages contribute to staff shortages, the “real difficulty” is the impact of tax and social protection income thresholds.
“What is particularly problematic for single parents and single women with children is that the penalties for entering the labor market are so great that very many of them do not want to do it,” did he declare.
Mr McDonnell said income limits for social and affordable housing mean it is not financially viable for many single parents to return to work, as they could be deemed ineligible for certain schemes.
“What you find is in the regions, local authorities are limiting social housing in band three [for people with general housing needs], a single person earning more than €25,000 per year loses his rights. It is a very important loss to make. It goes up to €35,000 in cities,” he said.
“You can also lose things like medical card entitlement, fuel allowance, all those things. There are a whole bunch of add-ons that are lost once you exceed certain income levels.
The availability of housing also adds to the problem, he said, with many potential employees unable to relocate for work because they have nowhere to live.
Meanwhile, union Siptu said hospitality and tourism workers were “living on the bread line” and struggling to “get by” because of the wages being paid in the sector.
Denis Hynes, Siptu organizer for hospitality, said there were “multiple issues” that made people no longer want to work in the industry.
“Most people are on minimum wage, which is a pittance. If you’re in college or third grade, you can get away with it because you probably have a caregiver. But if you’re someone who wants a career in the industry, you can’t settle for that,” he said.
“The workers tell me that taking a tea break is a problem. Some people only find out on a Friday that they are at work on a Saturday.
He added: “The industry is in big trouble because if they don’t fix this and encourage more people to work, you’ll see hotels close.”
The union has called on all hospitality and retail workers to earn at least living wage.
The living wage in Ireland is €12.90 an hour, according to a group of researchers, academics and social justice groups, known as the Living Wage Technical Group. This is €2.40 more than the national minimum wage, which is €10.50 per hour.
Tom Fitzgerald, regional coordinator of the Unite union, said hospitality workers “often struggle to survive on insecure, low-hour contracts”.
“Furthermore, Unite’s own research, as well as research led by NUIG’s Dr Deirdre Curran, found that hospitality workers are exposed to a range of abuse from harassment to denial of legally required breaks. “, did he declare.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said 40,000 workers left the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic because it was closed for such an extended period.
He said there was a need for a recruitment drive to increase the number of non-EU workers in Ireland, many of whom have returned home during the public health emergency.