Leo Varadkar: 'I think all of us would prefer if we didn't need the Covid pass'

Leo Varadkar: 'I think all of us would prefer if we didn't need the Covid pass'

The Covid cert is to stay until at least February. Picture: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he would prefer if the Covid cert was not needed, but said it was proportionate in light of the presence of the virus.

The Government had intended to abolish the cert by October 22, but has now extended its presence until at least February amid criticism and concern about the impact it will have on personal liberties.

“I think all of us would prefer if we didn't have to have the pass. I like most people go towards civil liberties. I'd much rather you didn't have to have this pass system at all,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“I much rather if it was gone by that we had hoped to be gone by now. But, you know, the scientific evidence, the advice from the public health team, is very clear. This will help us to reduce the transmission of the virus,” he said.

“The advice from the Attorney General, who was very much involved in this legislation back in October, he said it is proportionate given the public health emergency that we face. Were we not facing a public health emergency, we would not need it, but we are not in normal times,” he said.

Mr Varadkar also ruled out any temporary reduction in fuel taxes in light of soaring costs heading into winter.

“We are not considering a temporary reduction in fuel taxes, that is not the correct approach,” he said.

New law on 'tips'

Mr Varadkar also received Government approval to draft a law to stop employers topping up their staff’s pay with tips as well as providing greater clarity around service charges.

Employment Minister Leo Varadkar said there would be new requirements on employers to clearly display their policy on how both card and cash tips, gratuities and service charges were distributed. File picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Employment Minister Leo Varadkar said there would be new requirements on employers to clearly display their policy on how both card and cash tips, gratuities and service charges were distributed. File picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The new law will give new rights to employees, prohibiting the use of tips and gratuities to ‘make up’ contractual rates of pay.

Explaining the new law, Mr Varadkar said there was anecdotal evidence to suggest employers in some places were not passing on tips and service charges to their staff.

He said the intention is to have the laws in place by next year.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Varadkar said there would be new requirements on employers to clearly display their policy on how both card and cash tips, gratuities and service charges were distributed. All electronic tips must be distributed fairly and in a transparent way.

“This new law will, for the first time, give workers legal protections over tips. It will mean that any tips received cannot be counted towards an employee’s basic pay, they must be counted as additional and separate,” he said.

“I know many people are sometimes unsure how or if tips and service charges are distributed when paying for a meal, for example, especially when paying by card or phone,” he added.

Once this law is enacted, all employers will be required to show clearly how tips and service charges are dealt with in a business. This will provide clarity for both customers and staff, the Tánaiste said.

Most establishments already treat their employees fairly with regard to tips, so for many it will mean no change other than having to display their policy clearly.” 

The bill by way of law will place tips and gratuities, but not service charges, outside the scope of a person’s contractual wages.

It will oblige employers to display prominently their policy on the distribution of both cash and card tips.

It will also oblige employers to distribute fairly, equitably and in a transparent manner, tips that are received in electronic form i.e. through debit or credit cards or smart phones.

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