Legislation Watch – employment law

As the vacation season approaches, it is a good time to provide a quick recap on recent legislative developments in the employment sphere.

National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015
The National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act (the Act) was enacted on 15 July last. The main purpose of the Act is to establish a Low Pay Commission to perform certain advisory functions in relation to the setting of the national minimum wage. The Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the Government in relation to the setting of the minimum wage taking an evidence-based approach. The Commission has been in existence for almost a year and recently recommended an increase in the national minimum wage of 50 cent per hour. The first report which recently issued concluded that the wage should rise by 5.8% from the current rate of €8.65 per hour. The minimum wage was last increased in 2011 by €1.00 to €8.65 an hour following a cut of €1 imposed by the previous Government earlier in 2011. The Low Pay Commission does not recommend any change to the position of the sub-minimum rates for young people and certain trainees.

Reaction to the report has been mixed with employer groups generally opposed to any increase and trade unions and social justice campaigners calling for a further increase in the rate.

Also of note is that a number of mainly "technical" amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 2015 will be brought about through the enactment of the National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015. The Act was commenced on signing and the provisions relating to the Workplace Relation Act are tied to its commencement date of 1 October next.

Workplace Relations Act 2015
The Workplace Relations Act 2015 was enacted in May and has a commencement date of 1 October next. It is possible that the amendment to the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 allowing for the accrual of annual leave while on sick leave may commence sooner than this date. We will provide an update if this happens.

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 was signed into law on 22 July last. The commencement date has not yet been released. By way of quick recap this Act provides for an enhanced framework for collective bargaining in Ireland. It will provide a mechanism for workers who seek to improve their terms and conditions in companies where collective bargaining is not recognised by their employer. It also provides that Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) can be re-established and sectoral wage rates and conditions may be re-introduced. 

For more information please contact Sinead Grace, sgrace@algoodbody.com or your usual contact in A&L Goodbody Solicitors.

Date published: 28 July 2015