No discrimination in Government proposal to auto-enrol all workers in pension plan, says Doherty

The Minister for Social Protection said this morning that there will be no discrimination in the new auto-enrollment pension scheme proposed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Speaking to the employers' group IBEC last night, the Taoiseach announced that all workers will be auto-enrolled into a pension scheme in just over three years' time.

“You can’t discriminate somebody that’s earning 20 grand to somebody that’s earning 40 grand,” said Minister Regina Doherty.

“But it’s always going to be based on the percentage, so whatever percentage you put in, the employer will put in a percentage and the State will put in a percentage, and we have to work out the details as to what that percentage will be.”

The proposals form centrepiece of Fine Gael’s upcoming national pension plan.

The Taoiseach told the audience that two-thirds of private sector workers in Ireland have no pension and it is time to defuse the time bomb.

He said: "This issue has been long-fingered for too long, and now that the economy is recovering strongly we must act decisively, and we will publish a five year roadmap for pension reform before the end of the year.

"I anticipate the first payments being made into those new individually held funds by 2021."

Mr Varadkar also used the speech to announce upcoming legislation to outlaw so-called zero hour contracts.

He said the Government’s economic policy was focused on more than the goal of 100% employment - insisting it was focused on employment quality with “well-paying jobs, good conditions, and pension entitlements.”

“We want to ensure that, in the future, people are able to plan for themselves and their families - confident about where they work and where they live, how they travel and about growing old,” he said.

“The Government will legislate to help employees whose contracts do not reflect the reality of the hours they work and will prohibit so-called zero hour contracts."

He said the legislation would be prioritised in the current Dáil term.

He also had this to say on the Universal Social Charge.

He said: "So we've taken the decision, rather than abolishing the USC outright, that we will merge the USC and PRSI over time.

"That’s a complex and challenging task, and it will take many budgets to do it, but when completed it means we will have the kind of social insurance system that exists in other European countries."

He has also made three assurances for his government.

He said: "One. This government is fully engaged with the Brexit challenge. We have a clear vision about what we want to see emerge from the negotiations, and a co-ordinated approach across all departments and agencies.

"Two. We are determined to protect our national tax policy and will oppose any moves on corporate tax consolidation or turnover taxes on digital companies.

"We also remain committed to the OECD-led process on tax transparency. Ireland is not and will never be a tax haven.

"Three. We see extra capital investment as a buffer against future problems and an enabler for future success."

Reporting by Daniel McConnell


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