A WEEK is a long time in politics but it is evidently not long enough for the Department of Employment and Social Protection to publish details of an important piece of legislation for the racing industry.
On Tuesday, December 4th, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, assured the racing industry that his cabinet colleague Minister Regina Doherty would sign a statutory instrument [SI] “before the end of this week” which would make clear that horse racing is exempt from some provisions of the Working Time Act.
It is hoped that this vital piece of legislation will offer some protection from prosecution to trainers whose stable staff work extended hours during busy periods, as long as sufficient time off is granted and recorded within a reasonable time.
The SI will make clear how employers can stay on the right side of the law and avoid being served with compliance orders.
Although there were reports that the SI had indeed been signed last Friday, no official confirmation has been forthcoming. A spokesperson for the Department of Employment said yesterday they could not provide an explanation for the delay or any news on the status of the legislation.
The Irish Field understands that Minister Doherty has been very understanding of the industry’s desire for the legal change, the Attorney General has approved it, and there are no objections from the top brass at the Workplace Relations Commission, which carries out inspections.
It appears that the delay is being caused from within Minister Doherty’s department. The delay may prove embarrassing to the Minister for Agriculture and frustrate trainers and other ‘equestrian employers’ who may be struggling to roster staff in accordance with the existing legislation.