If you have been out of the workforce for some time, you will need to update
yourself on changes that have occurred in the field of employment protection.
There have been some substantial changes and acquainting yourself with these
developments will help you to maximise your rights.
Employment protection developments 1993-2016
The following is a summary of the legislation that has been introduced in
this period concerning employment protection:
- The Paternity
Leave and Benefit Act 2016 provides for statutory paternity leave of 2
weeks to be taken in the first 6 months following birth or adoption of a
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 provides for certain changes in the
exclusions of discrimination and prohibits discrimination against tenants
getting a social welfare payment or a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for a system of registered
employment agreements and sectoral employment orders.
Relations Act 2015 reorganises and reforms employment rights structures
by establishing the Workplace Relations Commission that has replaced the
Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality
Tribunal, and National Employment Rights Authority.
Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 amends and extends the Employment Permits
Acts 2003 and 2006 through the provision of 9 different types of employment
permit and changes to the criteria for issuing employment permits.
Disclosures Act 2014: This Act protects employees who make disclosures
about wrongdoing that comes to their attention in the workplace from
- The Industrial
Relations (Amendment) Act 2012: This Act reforms the wagesetting
mechanisms for making Employment
Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements.
of Employment (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012: This Act provides that
since 16 May 2012 all temporary agency workers must have equal treatment as
if they had been directly recruited by the hirer in respect of the duration
of working time, rest periods, night work, annual leave and public holidays
and pay. The right to equal pay is backdated to 5 December 2011.
of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act
2007: This legislation establishes a redundancy panel to consider
certain proposed collective redundancies. The Act also removes the upper
age limit for entitlement to redundancy payments.
Permits Act 2006: This Act updates the Employment
Permits Act 2003, introducing the Green Card permit and revising the
legislation on work permits and spousal permits.
(Provision of Information and Consulation) Act 2006: This legislation
sets establishes minimum requirements for employees' right to information
and consultation about the development of their employment's structure and
activities. Since 23 March 2008 it applies to employers with at least 50
Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 amends the Parental
Leave Act 1998 which provides for a period of unpaid parental leave for
parents to care for their children and for a limited right to paid leave in
circumstances of serious family illness (force
Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005: This legislation replaced the
provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1989 when it came into
operation on 1st September 2005. It consolidates and updates the existing
and safety law. Changes include the provision for higher fines for
breaches of safety legislation.
Leave Act 2005: It amends the Adoptive
Leave Act, 1995 which provides for adoptive leave from
employment principally by the adoptive mother and for her right to return
to work following such leave.
Protection (Amendment) Act 2004: It includes new provisions relating to
classes, additional maternity
making significant improvements to the Maternity
Protection Act 1994 which covers matters such as maternity leave, the
right to return to work after such leave and health/safety during and
immediately after the pregnancy.
Act 2004: This legislation makes significant amendments to the Employment
Equality Act 1998 which prohibits discrimination in a range of
employment-related areas. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are
gender, marital status, family status, age, race, religious belief,
disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community.
The Act also prohibits sexual and other harassment. The Equality Act also
amends the Equal Status Act 2000 to extend the definition of sexual
harassment and shift the burden of proof from the complianant to the
Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings)
Regulations 2003. This legislation applies to any transfer of an
undertaking, business or part of a business from one employer to
another employer as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment
or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Employees rights and entitlements are
protected during this transfer.
of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003: This legislation protects
fixed-term employees by ensuring that they cannot be treated less
favourably than comparable permanent workers and that employers cannot
continually renew fixed
term contracts. Under the Act employees can only work on one or more
fixed term contracts for a continuous period of four years. After this the
employee is considered to have a contract of indefinite duration (e.g. a
- Organisation of
Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations
2001. The main purpose of this EU Regulation is the requirement by
employers to keep a record of the number of hours worked by employees on a
daily and weekly basis, to keep records of leave granted to employees in
each week as annual leave or as public holidays and details of the payments
in respect of this leave. Employers must also keep weekly records of
starting and finishing times of employees.
of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 - this replaces the Worker
Protection (Regular Part-Time Employees) Act, 1991. It provides for the
removal of discrimination against part-time
workers where such exists. It aims to improve the quality of part-time
work, to facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis
and to contribute to the flexible organisation of working time in a manner
that takes account of the needs of employers and workers. It guarantees
that part-time workers may not be treated less favourably than full-time
Leave Act 2001 - this provides for an entitlement for employees to
avail of temporary unpaid carer's
leave to enable them to care personally for persons who require
full-time care and attention.
Minimum Wage Act 2000 - introduces an enforceable national minimum
of Working Time Act 1997 - regulates a variety of employment conditions
working hours, night work, annual
of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 - replaced previous legislation
dating from 1977 and regulates the employment
and working conditions of children and young persons.
of Employment (Information) Act 1994 - updated previous legislation
relating to the provision by employers to employees of information on such
matters as job description, rate of pay and hours of work.
Dismissals Act 1993 - updates unfair
dismissals law and amends previous legislation dating from 1977.
Complaint or breach of rights
Employment law provides protection for employees who feel their rights have
been breached. Complaints, disputes and grievances are heard before a Workplace
Relations Commissioner adjudicator who will listen to both sides before
completing an investigation of the complaint and issuing a decision.
Often, disputes between employers and employees can be resolved using mediation.
How to apply
Complaints, disputes or grievances regarding breaches of employment rights
under certain legislation can be referred using the online complaint form
available on workplacerelations.ie.
Before you apply to have your complaint heard, you must notify your employer of
your intention to contact the Workplace Relations Commission. Where legal
entitlements are involved, you should try and resolve the matter locally before
referring a complaint.
The Workplace Relations Commission has published the Guide
to Employment, Labour and Equality Law (pdf).
Further information on employment protection legislation may be obtained
from Workplace Relations Commission's Information
and Customer Service - see 'Where to apply' below.
Further information on the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015 and the
Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 may be obtained from the Irish
Human Rights and Equality Commission.