To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he has had discussions with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding exemptions for stable staff to the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997; his views regarding the impact in the horse racing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Following the Labour Court ruling regarding exemptions for stable staff to the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, I was made aware of the deep concern that existed in the horse racing industry arising from this ruling and its potential for significant impact on the sector, particularly for smaller operators.
As part of the legislation governing employment in this area falls within the remit of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I can confirm that I met with my colleague Minister Humphreys in relation to this issue in early 2018. I also raised the matter with Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Minister Doherty.
During these discussion, I outlined the concerns from the horse racing industry and sought a solution which would provide employers with some flexibility in the application of working time rules to staff working in the industry, subject to certain conditions and safeguards designed to ensure that workers are protected.
Following advice from the Attorney General, Minister Doherty signed a statutory instrument on 20 December 2018 which allows the limited derogations that are currently available to the agriculture sector under Working Time Directive and the Organisation of Working Time Act /Regulations to be also available to the horse racing sector.