Employment agreements and orders

Introduction

Employees in a particular sector (such as construction or security), and workers who are represented by a trade union, sometimes have their working conditions set out in a particular employment agreement or employment order.

Type of employment agreement or order

What it means for you

Employment Regulation Order (ERO) An ERO sets the minimum rates of pay and conditions for workers in a specified business sector.

The order is drawn up by a Joint Labour Committee and signed into law by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Read more about EROs below.

Registered Employment Agreement (REA) An REA is a collective agreement between a trade union and an employer. It covers the pay or employment conditions of specified workers.

An REA is registered with the Labour Court and is only binding on the parties that subscribed to it (such as the worker, employer and trade union).

Read more about REAs below.

Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) An SEO is made following a recommendation from the Labour Court on pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in a particular sector.

When the Minister signs an SEO, the Labour Court’s recommendations become law.

Read more about SEOs below.

If you are covered by an employment agreement or order, the details may be included in your contract of employment.

Employment Regulation Orders

An Employment Regulation Order (ERO) sets the minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment for workers in a particular sector.

There are currently 2 EROs in operation, including for the:

Employers must pay the wage rates and provide the employment conditions set out in the ERO. They cannot give less favourable wages or conditions than those in the ERO.

If your employment conditions are covered by an ERO, there must be a notice on display in the workplace, explaining the terms of the ERO.

You can report any breaches of an ERO to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

How an ERO comes into effect

The ERO proposal is drawn up by a Joint Labour Committee (JLC). The JLC can be set up to agree rates of pay and conditions of employment for vulnerable workers in sectors that are not otherwise represented.

Then, the JLC’s proposal must be adopted by the Labour Court. If adopted by the Labour Court, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will sign an ‘Order’, giving the proposal statutory effect.

Registered Employment Agreements

A Registered Employment Agreement (REA) is a collective agreement between a trade union and an employer. It can also be an agreement between multiple unions and multiple employers (or an employers’ organisation). The agreement is reached through collective bargaining, which means each side voluntarily engages in the negotiations.

An REA sets out the pay and employment conditions of the workers specified in the agreement.

Once an REA is registered with the Labour Court, it becomes binding (compulsory) for the parties involved (for example, the worker, employer and trade union).

All REAs must include a disputes procedure, which all parties to the agreement must keep to. You can refer any breaches of an REA to the Workplace Relations Commission.

The law on REAs is set out in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015.

The Labour Court keeps a register of employment agreements (pdf), as required by Section 8 of the Act.

Sectoral Employment Orders

A Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) can set the pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in a particular sector, such as construction. The law on SEOs is set out in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015.

The SEO has 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.

SEOs currently in place

The Sectoral Employment Order (Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector) 2018 (pdf) sets the statutory minimum rates of pay for workers employed in the Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting sector. It also sets other conditions, for example, sick pay and pension entitlements.

The Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2019 (pdf) came into effect on 1 October 2019. The order fixes the statutory minimum rates of pay for craftspeople, construction operatives and apprentices employed in the construction sector. It also sets other conditions, for example, sick pay and pension entitlements. This will be replaced by the Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2021 (pdf) from 1 February 2022.

On 1 February 2022, the Sectoral Employment Order (Electrical Contracting Sector) 2021 (pdf) comes into effect. The Order sets out the minimum rates of pay, pension and sick pay entitlements for workers and apprentices in the Electrical Contracting Sector, until at least 31 January 2023.

How an SEO comes into effect

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 a particular 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.

Then, the Labour Court can recommend the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to make an SEO. When the Minister signs an SEO, the Labour Court’s recommendations become legally binding across the sector.

Further information

You can visit the Workplace Relations Commission website for further information on:

You can also contact the WRC’s information and customer service.

Workplace Relations Commission - Conciliation and Mediation Services

Lansdowne House
Lansdowne Road
Dublin 4
D04 A3A8

Tel: (01) 613 6700
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Fax: (01) 613 6701
Page edited: 5 January 2022