By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he will bring a memo to Cabinet next month outlining his proposals for introducing a living wage.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday in response to a question from Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, Mr Varadkar said he would bring his proposals on a living wage to Government next month.
“With the approval of Government I will publish the report, publish the research that backs it up, and also initiate a public consultation on it, with a view to begin to make it a reality in 2023.”
The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment was asked about the living wage proposals at an event in Dublin later on Thursday.
“In terms of the move towards the living wage,” Mr Varadkar said, “I have the report from the Low Pay Commission, intend to bring it to Cabinet in June, publish it with all the research behind it, and then consult the public on a road map to introduce a living wage in Ireland.”
“I want to do that as soon as possible,” he said.
“But what the report indicates, and what the research indicates, is that if you increase the Living Wage above a certain level, then it can actually have unintended consequences: people having their hours cut, people potentially having their pay cut or frozen, or even businesses closing.
“So that’s why we need to do it in the right way.
“What I want to do is bring in a living wage, do it as quickly as possible, but not in a way that has unintended consequences.”
A living wage aims to provide workers with an income that allows them to have an acceptable standard of living through setting a minimum hourly wage rate.
Introducing a Living Wage Bill earlier this month, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said: “The key difference between the current minimum wage of €10.50 per hour and what we are proposing is that a living wage is a mechanism to take into account the cost of living.
“It is a better way to ensure that people’s incomes are sustained and supported through periods of rising inflation and rising prices.”
There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to progress the national minimum wage into a living wage over the lifetime of the Government.
Mr Varadkar said he could not comment on how quickly this would be done but that it would take “a couple of years”.