IHREC: Exclusion of women from TWSS is contrary to the State’s obligations under EU law
Published: Thursday, May 28, 2020
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today received correspondence from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) stating that excluding women returning to work after maternity leave from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is contrary to the State’s obligations under EU law. IHREC expressed this opinion in a letter to the Minister for Finance.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“NWCI welcomes the letter from IHREC to the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe which clearly states that this exclusion is contrary to the State’s obligations under EU law. We regret that NWCI was forced to take the matter to IHREC, and that the Minister could not rectify the issue when it was first raised with him.”
“It is IHREC’s view that the TWSS is contrary to the State’s obligations under EU law: “firstly, by its exclusion of women returning from maternity leave after February 2020, where those women had not been in receipt of any payment from the employer in the relevant payroll period; and secondly, by its less favourable treatment of women returning from maternity leave after February 2020 in the calculation of the subsidy, where those women had been on a reduced payment from their employer during leave.””
Orla O’Connor concluded,
“IHREC is extremely clear that no legislative amendment is required to remedy this deficiency in the TWSS, and that this issue must be “remedied immediately by the disapplication of the relevant provisions of the Emergency Measures Act, and the administrative measures adopted thereunder, insofar as they are contrary to EU law.” Where there is a conflict domestic law and EU law, the principle of primacy of EU law requires that EU law take precedence. We have been raising this issue for a number of weeks now, and the delays are utterly unacceptable. We are calling on the Minister to rectify this as a matter of urgency and ensure these payments are backdated to the women affected as matter of urgency.”
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