TRAINERS and stable staff will be given clarification on permitted working hours in the racing industry in the coming days.
The Minister for Employment Affairs, Regina Doherty, was due to sign a statutory instrument yesterday which is expected to confirm that horse racing is exempt from some provisions of the Working Time Act.
In most occupations, employees are not allowed to work more than 48 hours per week and must have at least 11 hours of rest each day with at least one full day off per week. Exceptions are allowed for some professions, such as trainee doctors, transport workers and those working in agriculture.
Two years ago the Workplace Relations Commission studied the work roster at Ballydoyle Stables and found the employer to be in breach of the law. Ballydoyle appealed the compliance orders served on them on the basis that their business was ‘agriculture’ but lost the case.
The new regulations will address that issue and recognise that taking care of racehorses, particularly on racedays, can involve longer working days. However, employers will need to ensure that employees are given sufficient time off during quieter periods.
Speaking at the HRI Awards this week, the Minister for Agriculture said: “I have been assured that a statutory instrument will by signed by Minister Doherty before the end of this week. I believe this is good news for the industry and will allow yard owners to fulfill their responsibilite to their staff in a fair and lawful manner.”
Minister Creed also confirmed that HRI’s strategic plan would be published soon. “The plan sets out ambitious targets for 2019-2023. It prioritises participation levels at all levels of the industry. Central to the plan is a focus on the welfare of those who work in the industry and the horses.”
He said he and his officials continue to work with HRI on identifying potential problems caused by Brexit and identifying possible solutions.
The €67.2 million allocation to the racing industry for 2019 was evidence of the Government’s support for the sector, he said. HRI chairman Nicky Hartery thanked the Minister for the funding and said: “We will spend it wisely for you.”