Ireland is a small open economy and our businesses are competing in a global marketplace. Ireland is already a relatively high cost economy, particularly for wage costs, and our companies need to be able to demonstrate value in order to access international markets. This ability to compete internationally is under threat from a recent series of initiatives aimed at increasing the statutory minimum wage and introducing increasingly burdensome employment regulations that will increase the cost base of many Irish businesses and reduce their competitiveness.
Unless there is a clear and compelling case for increases in the National Minimum Wage, restraint should be exercised. The Low Pay Commission’s annual deliberation must be free from any political influence and the issue of National Minimum Wage rate must not be co-opted as a political issue. Further increases will have a wider impact on labour costs and put increased pressure on business. A further increase would hamper the competitiveness of Irish companies and create unemployment. Small businesses may no longer be able to afford the same level of staff and be forced to let people go which has negative repercussions throughout the economy.
Employment regulations are vital to protect both employees and employers. Government must ensure that any proposed regulation is responding to an identifiable need for regulation, is practicable in a modern economy, and does not unduly favour either employee or employer. Burdensome employment regulation would severely undermine the competitiveness of Irish business and their ability to create jobs, particularly SMEs.