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Does Ireland Need Stronger Wage Theft Laws? An Assessment of Minimum Wage and Working Time Legislation

Thu, 28 Apr 2022

The 2022 KBS Spring Series continues Tuesday 3rd May at 1:00 pm with a seminar by Michelle O’Sullivan.  The seminar format is informal and interactive facilitating discussion and Q&A and will take place on MS Teams.  The title and abstract are below.  Click here to join the meeting

Does Ireland Need Stronger Wage Theft Laws? An Assessment of Minimum Wage and Working Time Legislation

Recent scandals internationally have drawn attention to wage theft which refers to the non-payment of wages for work performed. Walmart in the USA has paid more than US$1.4 billion in fines and settlements for wage theft since 2000 while Woolworths in Australia was found to have underpaid staff by $300m, leading to a spate of new employment laws on wage theft in those countries. In Ireland, there have been calls for stronger legal protections for workers who experience wage theft by trade unions and migrant rights organisations. Other than recent debate about tipping practices in hospitality, there has been little policy discussions about the extent of wage theft in Ireland and the effectiveness of existing employment laws in providing remedies for wage theft. This presentation explores if Ireland needs stronger wage theft laws by assessing the effectiveness of minimum wage and working time employment laws in providing a remedy for workers. The findings are based on an analysis of 214 complaints made by workers under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 to the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court. The analysis reveals that many measures which new wage theft laws have introduced in other countries are already contained in the Irish minimum wage and working time laws suggesting against the need for radically new employment laws. The existing laws however have several significant weaknesses that act as barriers to workers who have been underpaid.  

All are warmly welcome, further information on the KBS Spring series can be found at https://www.ul.ie/business/research/research-events