IFA Horticulture Chairman Brian O’Reilly has said that proposals that would give responsibility to employers to pay the first four weeks of sick pay for employees would have a negative impact on agricultural employment.
He was responding to reports that the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is considering introducing this measure as a method of achieving savings in the Social Welfare budget.
Mr O’Reilly said, “Along with the general upturn in the agriculture sector, there has been a recovery in employment in agriculture. However, employers are operating within very tight margins. Producers are under constant price pressure, from increasing input costs, the dominance of the retail sector and the continued weakness of sterling.”
He added, “For small employers, the loss of an employee through sick leave is already very costly. This proposal would only add to the costs of employment, and potentially undermine the viability of businesses, resulting in an overall reduction in employment.
“The expansion of the primary agriculture sector will result in increased employment, particularly in the labour-intensive sectors, including horticulture, pigmeat and poultry. The Minister must not undermine the growth potential by introducing this anti-employment measure,” he concluded.