The taxpayer can end up footing the bill in RTÉ “self-employed” employee bills

Taxpayers could be affected if RTÉ is forced to pay “a multiple” of a €1.2 million tax bill because workers are misclassified as self-employed.

Concerns are growing here about the parastatal broadcaster’s potential liability if investigations reveal it owes years of back-dated payments to the tax authorities and hundreds of employees.

This could include unpaid PRSI, vacation pay, maternity pay, sick pay and pension payments for people who are hired as contractors and are considered employees because of their work practices.

According to a report this month, a total of 60 percent of the Department for Social Protection’s (DSP) inspections of workers’ working conditions have resulted in decisions to reclassify workers previously classified as self-employed. 48 per cent of these have been challenged by RTÉ, according to an update the department gave to a Dáil committee in June.

And a report by the Public Accounts Committee said it was concerned that settlements “could be effectively subsidized by Treasury funding to RTÉ”.

“As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I am very concerned about the ongoing Department of Social Protection investigations into RTÉ’s misclassification of workers,” said Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

“From a public accounting perspective, I’m very concerned about potential taxpayer liability.”

He said the station shouldn’t expect a “dig.”

“RTE has already transferred €1.2 million to the Inland Revenue for unpaid employer PRSI and the potential compensation due following the department’s investigation could be many times that amount. There can also be High Court cases brought by staff for missed promotion opportunities etc.”


Brian Stanley TD of Sinn Fein

According to the report, a revenue statement of €1.2 million was achieved, covering the period 2015-2018, but “no details have been given so far on how this figure was reached”.

“Because the Department of Social Protection has no statute of limitations on its investigations, another PRSI crowd may be held liable to DSP if it finds that an individual was misclassified for PRSI purposes prior to 2015,” it said.

The Committee recommends that the Communications Department ensure that any liabilities to the Treasury Department arising from the Department’s investigation are funded from its commercial revenue streams or savings.

RTÉ had previously hired law firm Eversheds Sutherland to review the use of contractors.

Of 433 contractual arrangements examined, it was found that 276 contractors were appropriately employed and 106 were identified as having ’employment-like characteristics’.

A total of 51 people were found to have “characteristics similar to both employment and self-employment”. The review found that 157 contracts required further review.

RTÉ then offered 82 people employment contracts and 79 accepted.

An RTÉ spokesman said “this process is ongoing” and “RTÉ has ​​no comment at this time”.

A spokesman for the Department of Social Protection said it was not commenting on any ongoing investigations or decision outcomes.

The department told the committee that its investigation should be completed next year. The report says the “engagement” with the workers will not begin until investigations by the tax authorities and the department are complete. The taxpayer can end up footing the bill in RTÉ “self-employed” employee bills

Fry Electronics Team

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