Employment law update
Information about your job
Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994–2014: requires employers to provide employees with certain information about their employment, such as a contract of employment, a job description, rate of pay and hours of work.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018: gives you much more control over your personal data. It also imposes more obligations on companies who control and process your data. GDPR came into force across the EU on 25 May 2018.
Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018: bans zero-hour contracts in most situations and provides for minimum payments and banded hours. It also states that employers must provide employees with information on the 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of them starting work. It came into effect on 4 March 2019.
Terms and conditions of employment
Payment of Wages Act 1991: gives employees the right to a pay slip showing their gross wages and details of any deductions.
Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005: set out the amount of notice you are entitled to prior to the termination of employment.
Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015: provides a framework for workers looking to improve their terms and conditions of employment, where collective bargaining is not recognised by their employer. It also provides a replacement system for Registered Employment Agreements (REAs), and a new type of order known as Sectoral Employment Orders (SEO).
Working hours, annual leave and holiday leave
Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001: require that employers keep records of the number of hours employees work on a daily and weekly basis, the amount 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 employees starting and finishing times.
Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004: includes provisions relating to ante-natal classes, additional maternity leave, breastfeeding making significant improvements to the Maternity Protection Act 1994. The Maternity Protection Act 1994 covers matters such as maternity leave, the right to return to work after maternity leave, as well as health and safety during and immediately after pregnancy.
The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016: provides for statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks. This must be taken in the first 6 months following the birth or adoption of a child.
The Adoptive Leave Act 2005: 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.
The Parental Leave Acts 1998 -2019: provide 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 (known as ‘force majeure’).
The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019: provides for 2 weeks paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. It aims to let working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child during the first year.
Safety at work
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (as amended): replaced the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1989. It consolidates and updates the existing health and safety law. Changes include the provision for higher fines for breaches of safety legislation.
Equal treatment in the workplace
The Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015: prohibits discrimination in a range of employment-related areas. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community. It also places an obligation on employers to prevent harassment in the workplace.
Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015: makes significant amendments to the Employment Equality Act 1998 in the areas of retirement and age discrimination, discrimination by religious, medical and educational institutions on religious grounds, and indirect discrimination.
Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001: prevents discrimination against part-time workers. 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 that takes account of the needs of employers and workers. It guarantees that part-time workers are not treated less favourably than full-time workers.
Fixed term employees
Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003: 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 permanent contract).
Protection of Employment (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012: provides that all temporary agency workers must be treated equally (as if they had been directly recruited by the hirer) in respect of the duration of working time, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays and pay.
The Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self-employment Status of Individuals 2018: provides criteria which can be used to clarify whether a person is employed or self-employed.
Protected Disclosures Act 2014: protects employees from penalisation if they make a disclosure about wrongdoing in the workplace.
Business take-overs and protection of employees
European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003: apply 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.
Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006: establishes minimum requirements for employees' right to information and consultation about the development of their employment's structure and activities during a transfer of undertakings. It applies to employers with at least 50 employees.
The Redundancy Payments Acts 1967–2014: provide for a minimum entitlement to a redundancy payment for employees who have a set period of service with the employer when made redundant. Not all employees are entitled to the statutory redundancy payment, even where a redundancy situation exists.
Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007: establishes a redundancy panel to consider certain proposed collective redundancies. The Act also removes the upper age limit for entitlement to redundancy payments.
Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977–2015 circumstances in which unfair dismissal can occur are where your employer terminates your contract of employment, with or without notice or you terminate your contract of employment, with or without notice, due to the conduct of your employer. This is known as constructive dismissal.
You can get further information on the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Employment Permits (Amendment) Regulations 2018: makes changes to the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List (HSEOL) and Ineligible Categories of Employment List (ICEL) and states that a copy of the signed contract of employment must be submitted with all new and renewal employment permit applications. You can read more on employment permits on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.
Workplace Relations Act 2015: establishes the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) replacing the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality Tribunal, and National Employment Rights Authority.
The Mediation Act 2017: allows employees to use mediation for certain civil claims, for example, personal injuries actions. This legislation does not apply to employment disputes brought to the WRC, including disputes being dealt with by mediation officers of the WRC.
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 Commission 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, which aims to resolve workplace disputes and disagreements, particularly between individuals or small groups. This gives employees and employers in dispute an opportunity to work with a mediator to find a mutually agreed solution to the problem.
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) and the booklet on Employment Law Explained (pdf).
Further information on employment protection legislation may be obtained from Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service - see 'Where to apply' below
Where to apply