I move amendment No. 51:
In page 20, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:
“16. (1) The Government shall not commence this Part without a request from the Minister for Health, following a resolution of Dáil Éireann or where that is not feasible, following consultation with and the approval of, all party and group leaders of Dáil Éireann, or their nominees.
(2) This Part shall continue in operation for no more than 30 days without, a request from the Minister for Health, following a further resolution of Dáil Éireann or where that is not feasible, following consultation with and the approval of, all party and group
leaders of Dáil Éireann, or their nominees.”.
This amendment concerns the mental health tribunals and the fact that a consultant psychiatrist is no longer required to be on site for the case to proceed. We have no problem with the primary provision going ahead and being enacted. However, we would suggest that before this law is commenced or before a case is commenced, it comes back to the floor of the Dáil for resolution or if this is not possible logistically, it goes to party leaders for a decision.
I move amendment No. 56:
In page 25, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
25. In this Part, “Act of 1954” means the Defence Act 1954, as amended, extended and continued by subsequent enactments.”.
This is a very straightforward amendment. It provides for job security for members of the Reserve Defence Force who may be called up on active service to deal with this emergency or any subsequent emergency. It is absolutely the norm internationally, all across the European Union. It is completely cost-neutral and does not jeopardise, or interfere with, any other provision in this Bill.
We have heard very fine words about the Defence Forces in this Chamber today and on previous days, about the great job they do and how brave they are on the front line dealing with this crisis. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to provide tangible and practical help to those people on the front line and members of the Defence Forces would be extremely appreciative. Accordingly, I urge all Members present to support these amendments.
I do not have much more to add. If somebody told us two months ago that an international pandemic would be taking place, we would not have believed them. We have no idea what will happen in two months’ time. There is a possibility that members of the Reserve Defence Force will be called up on active service and I think that, at the very least, they deserve to have their civilian jobs available to them when they finish their term of service. It is a very reasonable amendment and it is the very least that our brave Defence Forces personnel deserve. I will press the amendment.
I move amendment No. 58:
“Provisions governing return of reservists to employment
26. (1) Where a member of the Reserve Defence Force as defined in the Act of 1954, (in this section referred to as the “reservist”) is called out on permanent service or in aid to the civil power, under the provisions of the Act of 1954, and such reservist was, at the time he or she was so called out, employed by another person (in this section referred to as the “former employer”) the following provisions shall apply:
(a) on the expiry of the period during which the reservist was absent from work while called out on such permanent service or in aid to the civil power, the reservist shall be entitled to return to work as soon as reasonably practicable —
(i) with the employer with whom he or she was working immediately before the start of that period or, where during the reservist’s absence from work there was a change of ownership of the undertaking in which he or she was employed immediately before her or his absence, with the owner (in this section referred to as the “successor”) of the undertaking at the expiry of the period of the absence,
(ii) in the job which the reservist held immediately before the start of that period, and
(iii) under the contract of employment under which the reservist was employed immediately before the start of that period, or, where a change of ownership such as is referred to in subparagraph (i) has occurred, under a contract of employment with the successor which is identical to the contract under which the reservist was employed immediately before the start of that period and (in either case) under terms and conditions —
(I) not less favourable than those that would have been applicable to the reservist, and
(II) that incorporate any improvement to the terms or conditions of employment to which the reservist would have been entitled,
if he or she had not been so absent from work.
(2) Where a reservist is entitled to return to work in accordance with subsection (1) but it is not reasonably practicable for the employer or the successor to permit the reservist to return to work in accordance with that subsection, the reservist shall, subject to provisions of this section, be entitled to be offered by the employer, the successor or an associated employer suitable alternative work under a new contract of employment.
(3) Work under a new contract of employment constitutes suitable alternative work for the purposes of this section if —
(a) the work required to be done under the contract is of a kind which is suitable in relation to the reservist concerned and appropriate for the reservist to do in the circumstances, and
(b) the terms or conditions of the contract —
(i) relating to the place where the work under it is required to be done, the capacity in which the reservist concerned is to be employed and any other terms or conditions of employment are not less favourable to the reservist than those of his or her contract of employment immediately before the start of the period of absence from work while on protective leave, and
(ii) incorporate any improvement to the terms or conditions of employment to which the reservist would have been entitled if he or she had not been so absent from work during that period.
(4) During a period of absence from work by a reservist who is called up on such permanent service or in aid to the civil power, the reservist shall be deemed to have been in employment of the employer or successor and, accordingly, while so absent, the reservist shall be treated as if he or she had not been so absent and such absence shall not affect any right, whether conferred by statute, contract or otherwise, and related to the reservist’s employment.
(5) Entitlement to return to work in accordance with subsection (1) or to be offered suitable alternative work under subsection (2) shall be subject to a reservist who has been absent from work as a result of being called out on permanent service or in aid to the civil power having, as soon as reasonably practicable, notified in writing (or caused to be so notified) the employer or, where the reservist is aware of a change of ownership of the undertaking concerned, the successor or his or her intention to return to work and the date on which he or she expects to return to work.
(6) Where, because of an interruption or cessation of work at a reservist’s place of employment, existing on the date specified in a notification under subsection (4) given by the reservist, it is unreasonable to expect the reservist to return to work on the date specified in the notification, the reservist may return to work instead when work resumes at the place of employment after the interruption or cessation, or as soon as reasonably practicable after such resumption.”.
Amendment put and declared lost.
A Cheann Comhairle, amendments Nos. 56 and 58 were grouped. I wished to call a division on amendment No. 58.