Ireland: The Employment Law Review, 8th Edition

I INTRODUCTION

Employment in Ireland is regulated by an extensive statutory framework, much of which finds its origin in European Community law. The Irish Constitution, the law of equity and the common law remain relevant, particularly in relation to applications for injunctions to restrain dismissals and actions for breach of contract. The main Irish legislation in the employment law area includes:

  1. the Industrial Relations Acts 1946–2015;
  2. the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967–2014;
  3. the Protection of Employment Act 1977;
  4. the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2001;
  5. the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977–2015;
  6. the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 and 2012;
  7. the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004;
  8. the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997;
  9. the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015;
  10. the National Minimum Wage Act 2000;
  11. the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001;
  12. the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003;
  13. the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003;
  14. the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005;
  15. the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006;
  16. the Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014; q the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007; r the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012;
  17. the Protected Disclosures Act 2014;
  18. the Workplace Relations Act 2015; and
  19. the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016.

Employment rights under Irish law can be enforced under the specially allocated statutory forum, or by the civil courts in appropriate cases. The process of determining which body or court will have jurisdiction in a particular case will now mainly depend on whether the claim is either being brought under statute or common law.

In general terms, employer's liability (i.e., personal injury) claims and claims of breach of contract are dealt with in the civil courts, as are applications for injunctive relief in relation to employment matters, whereas statutory claims (i.e., those made, for example, under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977–2015 or the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997) are heard by the new Workplace Relations Commission.

i Civil courts

The civil judicial system in Ireland is tiered, based on the monetary value of particular claims. At the lowest level, the District Court deals with claims not exceeding €15,000 and this court rarely hears employment-related disputes. Next is the Circuit Court, where jurisdiction is generally limited to awards of up to €75,000 (except for personal injury actions when the jurisdiction is limited to €60,000), although where a case has been appealed to the Circuit Court from the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in relation to any remaining legacy cases under the old system (see below for more detail), it has jurisdiction to exceed this limit and make awards up to the jurisdictional level of the EAT. There is no longer a right of appeal to the Circuit Court under the new Workplace Relations system for all cases issued on or after 1 October 2015. The Circuit Court also has potentially unlimited jurisdiction in relation to gender equality cases. Where the sums involved in a contractual claim exceed €75,000, the action must be brought in the High Court, which has unlimited jurisdiction. Only the Circuit and High Courts can hear applications for injunctive relief.

ii The Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent statutory body established on 1 October 2015 following the Workplace Relations Act 2015 (2015 Act). The WRC has taken over the functions of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), the Labour Relations Commission, the Equality Tribunal and the first-instance (complaints and referrals) function of the EAT. The WRC is now the sole body to which all industrial relation disputes and complaints in accordance with employment legislation will be presented. All claims issued prior to 1 October 2015 before any of the relevant bodies will be dealt with under the new system, until they have fully concluded.

Following the 2015 Act, the WRC provides conciliation, advisory, mediation and early resolution services, as well as an adjudication service. The adjudication service, which was formally the Rights Commissioner service, investigates disputes, grievances and claims made under the relevant employment legislation. A complaint may also be referred to mediation if deemed suitable; otherwise, it will go before an adjudicator. The WRC also has discretion to deal with the complaint by written submission only, unless either party objects within 42 days of being informed.

A major difference with the old system is that now all hearings are held in private. The employer has 56 days from the date of the decision to implement it, and should they fail to do so the employee may apply to the District Court for an order directing the employer to fulfil the order. If the decision relates to the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1997–20015 (UDA), and the decision was to re-instate or re-engage the employee, the District Court may substitute an order to pay compensation of up to 104 weeks' pay, in accordance with the UDA.

The WRC has also taken over the role of NERA, which is now referred to as the Inspection and Enforcement Service (IES). The purpose of this service is to monitor employment conditions to ensure compliance and enforcement of employment rights legislation.

iii Labour Court

As of 1 October 2015, the Labour Court is the single appeal body for all workplace relation disputes. The EAT will continue to hear all appeals submitted prior to the commencement of the 2015 Act.

The Labour Court can choose to deal with the dispute by written submissions only, unless either party objects. Unlike the WRC, all hearings before the Labour Court are held in public, unless it decides, due to special circumstances, that the matter should be heard in private. The Labour Court has wide powers under the new legislation to require witnesses to attend and to take evidence on oath.

A decision of the Labour Court may be appealed on a point of law only to the High Court.

II YEAR IN REVIEW

With clear indications that the Irish economy is recovering, there is a renewed sense of optimism. There has also been a drop in the unemployment rate in Ireland, decreasing to 7.5 per cent in October 2016 from 8.5 per cent in January 2016.

The most notable piece of legislation implemented in 2016 was the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 (the 2016 Act). This came into force on 1 September 2016 and provides for two weeks' paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child on or after 1 September 2016. This Act does not confine itself to biological fathers, but extends the entitlement to a 'relevant partner', which includes adoption scenarios, civil partners and cohabitants of the mother of the child. The purpose of the 2016 Act is to give the 'relevant parent' leave so that he can provide or assist in the provision of care for the child and to provide support to the mother or adoptive parent. The two-week period of leave can be taken at any time between the date of confinement or placement and a date not later than 26 weeks after such date.

The 2016 Act also brings it in line with current maternity and adoptive legislation whereby the two-week leave period is protected leave, meaning that the rights of the employee taking paternity leave must be preserved during the period of leave.

The 'relevant parent' can claim a paternity benefit for the two-week period, amounting to €230 per week, which is on par with similar benefits such as maternity benefit, subject to the employee having made appropriate PRSI contributions.

The Employment Permits (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2016 saw the introduction of a new Employment Permits Online System (EPOS) in September 2016. It is hoped that the EPOS will make the system more efficient and allow for secure payment of fees by credit or debit card.

*  Bryan Dunne is a partner and Bláthnaid Evans is a senior associate at Matheson.

To view the full article please click  here.

This article was first published in The Employment Law Review, 8th Edition. Reproduced with permission from Law Business Research.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.