Dáil Éireann - Volume 458 - 14 November, 1995

Written Answers. - Minimum Wage Proposal.

42. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Social Welfare his views on whether the task force on the long-term unemployed and his recent proposals suggesting a minimum wage will have the effect of simply shifting the burden of support from his Department to employers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16753/95]

Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): I am concerned to ensure that the social welfare system provides an adequate minimum income for people without other adequate means of support, while at the same time enabling them to take up any employment opportunities which may arise. I am looking at ways in which social welfare payments can be structured to facilitate the transition from unemployment to employment, particularly where people have families to support.

In considering the relationship between employment and social welfare, I see a need to address the question of a minimum wage. I have called on employers to address the question of low pay with a view to seeking to establish how best agreed minimum standards might be implemented. This proposal seeks from employers a response [204] to the social welfare and other initiatives currently taking place in our economy. Employers have a social responsibility to ensure that their employees are paid a fair wage. If they do not accept that responsibility voluntarily then it will be necessary to legislate for it.