Employment Law in Ireland
Employers and employees should be aware of the of relevant legislation provisions available within the context of employment law in Ireland. As an employer a failure to adhere to the code of law concerning the employments, monitoring, promotion and/or dismissal of employees can result in considerable and costly penal sanction in the form of awards for compensation issued by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in favour of employees whose rights have been infringed. The most common of these are action for unfair dismissal but other actions can lie under a number of other grounds such as equality legislation, failure to provide a written contract and failure to pay employees correctly according to their hours of work.
Employers must balance their obligations under employment law with the need to protect their business from reputational damage and more significantly the potential loss of their sensitive commercial information and threat to their intellectual property.
A sample of relevant legislation concerning employment in Ireland is a follows:
A. Granting Employment
- Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994– Governs the obligations to issue and basic requirements for written terms of employment.
- Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 – conditions for employment of children and minors.
- Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 – Obligations around matters such as maximum working hours, annual and public holiday leave etc.
- National Minimum Wage Act 2000 – introduced the national minimum wage in ireland, currently €9.55 per hour.
- Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 – Part-time workers must be treated as favourably as full-time workers.
- Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001. Obligation on employers to keep records of the numbers of employee hours, leave granted and details of the payments in respect of leave.
- Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003: The protection of fixed-term contract employees. Employees can only be requested to work under fixed term contracts for no more than four years. The law presumes permanent employment after this point (e.g. a permanent contract).
- Equality Act 2004: Prohibits discrimination in the selection of employees for work on grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age, race, religious belief, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community. Sexual and other forms of harassment are also identified as prohibited acts. The Act places burden of proof on the employer.
- Employment Permits Act 2006: Introducing the Green Card permit on work permits and spousal permits.
- Protection of Employment (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012: Introduced equal treatment for all temporary agency workers on matters of working time, rest periods, night work, annual leave and public holidays and pay as and from 16 May 2012.
- Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 Amended the Acts of 2003 and 2006. It introduced nine different types of employment permit. It set the criteria for issuing employment permits.
- Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 Makes certain changes and in particular prohibits discrimination against prospective employees that are in receipt of social welfare payments or Housing Assistance Payments (HAP’s)
B. Employee Rights
- Carer’s Leave Act 2001 – Granted the entitlement for employees to seek temporary unpaid carer’s leave to assist with the care personally of persons who require full-time care and attention.
- Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004: Provisions authorising leave for ante-natal classes, and extended maternity leave, the right to return to work after maternity without change to working conditions and also certain provions concerning the health and safety during and immediately after the pregnancy.
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005: Updated the existing health and safety law, increased fines for breaches of safety legislation.
- Adoptive Leave Act 2005: Adoptive leave from employment principally by the adoptive mother and her right to return to work following leave
- Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 Updated legislation for the period of unpaid parental leave for parents to care for their children and a limited right to paid leave in cases of serious family illness (force majeure).
- Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006: Enables employees’ to seek information and consultation about the development of their employment’s structure and activities. It applies to employers with at least 50 employees.
- Protected Disclosures Act 2014: Protects employees from being penalised or victimised where they have made disclosures about wrongdoing in the workplace.
- The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 Statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks
C. Union Representation and Business Sale
- European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (TUPE). Widely applied legislation which compels the transfer of existing employees terms and conditions of employment to the purchaser of that business, including in the context of an assignment or forfeiture of a lease or a business merger.
- Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007: Established a redundancy panel to consider certain proposed collective redundancies.
- The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012: Reformed the mechanisms employed for wage setting in making Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements.
- Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015: Established the system for the creation and registration of employment agreements and sectoral employment orders.
- Unfair Dismissals Act 1993 – Amend the 1977 Act and updated unfair dismissals law. Critically the onus to prove a dismissal was fair is placed on the employer.
- Workplace Relations Act 2015 reorganised the Irish employment rights structures by incorporating the the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality Tribunal, and National Employment Rights Authority in the newly established Workplace Relations Commission.
As can be seen from the above list employment law in Ireland is a heavily regulated legal sector and requires careful guidance from an experienced law team. At M.P. Moloney solicitors not only have we extensively practised, acted and advised in the area of employment law, we also have access to the leading and specialist Counsel in the field of employment law in Ireland. We act for and advise employees and organisations alike. Our service is personable and our Dublin city centre law offices are welcoming.