Employment law update: What’s happening between now and the end of the year?
As we move into the final months of 2022, there are significant legislative developments on the horizon. In this briefing we take a look at some of the key developments coming down the line.
Whistleblowing: The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022
A date has been set for commencement of this important legislation. The Act will take effect in its entirety from 1 January 2023 and employers have until then to comply.
Upon commencement, private sector employers with 250 or more employees, and those who fall within the scope of certain EU laws in areas such as financial services, will be required to establish formal reporting channels and procedures for workers to make protected disclosures. All employers need to comply with new provisions, concerning aspects such as the widening of the category of workers who can make a protected disclosure; the protection of their identity and the shifting of the burden of proof in the event of a claim for penalisation.
Commenting on the commencement, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said
"This Act substantially overhauls the legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers. It gives greater certainty to workers who report wrongdoing that the information they disclose will be properly followed up on. It also strengthens the protections for workers who suffer penalisation for raising a concern about wrongdoing in the workplace".
In setting 1 January 2023 as the commencement date, "I am giving employers notice so that they can make the necessary arrangements as regards compliance with the Act. It also gives the Protected Disclosures Commissioner sufficient time to get ready to be in a position to fulfill his obligations under the Act."
Our detailed briefings on what the new law will mean for your business are available here and here. Prior to commencement, employers should ensure their policies and procedures are robust and up to date and that managerial staff are trained on the new requirements.
Statutory sick pay: Sick Leave Act 2022
The Sick Leave Act was signed into law in July 2022 and will commence on a date appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment. The Minister recently indicated that the Sick Leave Act will commence on 1 January 2023.
This means employees will be entitled, as a minimum, to three days paid sick leave in 2023, rising gradually to a minimum of ten days over the next four years.
Further details on the introduction of statutory sick pay are available in our briefing here.
Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022
The Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill will implement the EU Work-Life Balance Directive into Irish law.
The Bill was published on 5 October 2022 and is currently working its way through the legislative process.
The Bill contains three key measures to support families and carers:
- Unpaid leave of up to five days per year for medical care purposes
- A right to request flexible working for carers and parents of children up to the age of 12
- Extension of current entitlement to breastfeeding/lactation breaks from six months to two years
In addition, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth has expressed his intention to introduce legislative provisions providing for a form of domestic violence leave as amendments to the Bill.
You can read more about the proposed legislation in our briefing here.
Gender pay gap reporting
As the deadline draws closer, many employers are actively preparing the details of their gender pay gap report.
Employers with 250 or more employees are required to choose a snapshot date in June 2022 and report their gender pay gap no later than the same date in December 2022. For further details on the reporting requirements, please visit our gender pay gap hub.
The right to request remote working
While a draft scheme of a Right to Request Remote Working Bill was published amidst great fanfare last January, it quickly came under significant criticism in respect of aspects such as the "cumbersome" grounds for refusal of a request. In July 2022, the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment published a report on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill noting that much of the public commentary on the general scheme "has not been positive". Work is now ongoing on the Bill and the general scheme will probably have to be revised, with further developments on this front due before the end of the year.
For further information in relation to any of these topics, please contact Triona Sugrue, Knowledge Lawyer, or any member of ALG's Employment Team.
Date published: 20 October 2022