Employment agreements and orders
In addition to arrangements such as the national minimum wage, some employees are covered by particular agreements that deal with the pay and working conditions of the employees concerned and may be included in an employee’s contract of employment.
Some employees’ terms and conditions of employment can be covered by the following binding instruments:
- An Employment Regulation Order (ERO) sets the minimum rates of pay and conditions for workers in a specified business sector. It is an agreement drawn up by a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) and signed into legislation by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
- A Registered Employment Agreement (REA) is a collective agreement between a trade union or unions of workers and employer or employers on the pay or conditions of specified workers, which is registered with the Labour Court and is only binding on the parties that subscribed to it.
- A Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) is made following a recommendation from the Labour Court on matters of pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in an economic sector. When the Minister signs an SEO, this puts the provisions of the recommendation on a statutory basis.
Employment Regulation Orders
An Employment Regulation Order (ERO) sets the minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment for workers in a specified business sector. Employers are then obliged to pay wage rates and provide conditions of employment not less favourable than those set out.
It is drawn up by a Joint Labour Committee (JLC). A JLC can be set up to agree rates of pay and conditions of employment for vulnerable workers in sectors that are not otherwise represented.
To become an ERO, the proposals drawn up by the JLC must be adopted by the Labour Court and an Order giving them statutory effect must be made by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
A notice must be posted up in the place of employment regulated by an ERO setting out the statutory rates of pay and conditions of employment. Any breaches of an ERO may be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
There are currently two Employment Regulation Orders in force:
Registered Employment Agreements
A Registered Employment Agreement (REA) is a collective agreement made between a trade union or unions and either an individual employer, a group of employers or an employers’ organisation. An REA can set the pay and conditions of employment of the workers specified in the agreement. An REA must be registered with the Labour Court. The effect of registration makes the REA binding on the subscribing parties.
An REA must contain a disputes procedure that is binding on the parties to the agreement. Any breaches of an REA may be referred to the WRC.
Sectoral Employment Orders
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 also provides the legal basis for Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs). An SEO can set the pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in an economic sector. It is binding across the sector to which it relates. An SEO begins as a request to the Labour Court to review matters such as the pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in an economic sector.
The request to the Labour Court can be made separately or jointly by organisations that substantially represent employers or workers, such as a trade union.
The Labour Court can then decide to recommend that an SEO be made by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. When the Minister makes an SEO, this gives statutory effect to the Labour Court’s recommendations and makes them binding across the sector.
The SEO contains a dispute resolution procedure. It requires employees to raise individual disputes with their employer at local level first. The employer must respond within 5 working days. If it is not resolved the dispute can be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). WRC decisions can be appealed to the Labour Court.
There are currently 2 SEOs in force:
The Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2017 - this order fixes the statutory minimum pay, pension, unsocial hours payment and sick pay entitlements for craftspeople, construction operatives and apprentices employed in the construction sector.
The Sectoral Employment Order (Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector) 2018 - this order fixes the statutory minimum rates of pay and other conditions of employment for certain workers employed in the Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting sector.
Pre-2011 EROs and pre-2013 REAs
Following a High Court decision, all EROs ceased to have statutory effect from 7 July 2011. Following a decision of the Supreme Court, all REAs ceased to have statutory effect from 9 May 2013.
Employees who were previously covered by an ERO or an REA have existing contracts of employment which govern their pay and conditions of work. If an employer reduces an employee’s rate of pay this would be a change in their contract of employment and normally such changes require the employee’s consent.
If you need details contained in pre-2013 REAs, you can contact the Labour Court.