PAC entitled to investigate bogus self-employment, says chair

Oireachtas social protection committee also investigating issue
PAC entitled to investigate bogus self-employment, says chair

Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the PAC would not now be acting further on the issue until the social protection report is finalised. Picture: Oireachtas TV/PA

The head of the Public Accounts Committee has insisted there is “no conflict of interest” between it and a fellow Oireachtas committee over the issue of bogus self-employment.

The current version of the PAC has taken to investigating bogus self-employment as a priority issue on foot of its engagement with both the Department of Social Protection, the Revenue Commissioners, and activist Martin McMahon.

That situation led to a stinging rebuke for the PAC from social protection committee chairman Dennis Naughten, who stated that PAC’s involvement “is less than helpful”.

Writing to the PAC, Mr Naughten said his committee was also “questioning” PAC’s remit to investigate the issue.

PAC chair Brian Stanley has said that he has spoken with Mr Naughten and that the issue has been smoothed over. 

He said the issue of illegitimate self-employment is one the social protection committee had chosen to investigate once more after the previous committee had failed to finalise a report on the matter.

“We didn’t know about any of this,” Mr Stanley said. 

The first we knew of the other report was when Martin McMahon brought it to light at our information session.

Bogus self-employment (BSE) is that which sees workers denied social insurance contributions and sick pay by their de facto employers, despite their employment sharing all attributes with those performing fully contracted work.

Mr McMahon appeared before the PAC at the end of March and made critical comments about the forthcoming social protection report, a fact which Mr Naughten last week described as being “completely unacceptable” in his letter to the PAC.

Asked for comment on the issue, Mr McMahon said there is “more than enough work for several committees”.

“The PAC has historically addressed BSE in construction dating back to the late '90s where investigations led to 12,000 workers being reclassified as employees,” he said.

However, Mr Stanley said the PAC would not now be acting further on the issue until the social protection report is finalised, which he said should be “in the next couple of months”.

“There is no conflict of interest here, their report needs to happen. The more investigation of this matter, the better,” he said.

“I’m anxious to see the report, but there is no point in people going after the same information at the same time,” he said, adding that his committee would be sharing all relevant information with its social protection counterpart to aid in compiling its report.

“We’re going after the money, that’s our job, to look out for the public finances in terms of lost revenue to the State, but I think it’s important that the other committee is allowed to complete its work before PAC does anything else on this.”

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