The Workplace Relations Act commenced on October 1st 2015. For the most up to date information on the Act and what it means for your business, please visit our Workplace Relations Act page.
The Workplace Relations Bill 2014 (the ‘Bill’) passed through the Dáil last Wednesday evening and is due to be introduced to the Seanad soon. The Bill proposes significant changes in the way employment law claims are processed and adjudicated and will introduce new compliance measures that all employers need to be aware of.
Key points to note about the Bill include the following:
- The Bill provides for all employment law claims to be heard in private by a single adjudicator with appeals to go to an expanded Labour Court. Whilst the Minister has confirmed that appeal hearings will be heard in public, he intends to allow for private hearings only if there is a compelling reason. We can expect this amendment to be proposed in the Seanad.
- The Minister confirmed that the adjudicators for the new Workplace Relations Commission have commenced training and will undergo an examination and assessment before being assigned cases.
- The Bill seeks to amend the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (the ‘1997 Act’) to bring it in line with recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning annual leave entitlements. The Bill provides that for the purposes of the entitlement to paid annual leave, an employee who is absent from the workplace on certified sick leave, will be deemed to have worked the hours he or she would have worked had it not been a day of illness. The amendments to the 1997 Act are also to allow an employee who has been unable to take annual leave due to absence from work on sick leave to take their annual leave within a carry-over period of 15 months following the end of the leave year.
- Employers should expect to deal with a simplified, quicker, more effective system for employment law claims. Having to wait for over a year to begin defending employment law claims should no longer be an issue with the new system thanks to increased focus on early and informal resolution of disputes. In that regard, employers against whom a claim has been filed can expect to perhaps receive a call from the early resolution service - which is already functioning.
- The current NERA inspectors will become Workplace Relations Commission inspectors under the Bill and will have new powers to issue compliance notices and fixed-payment notices to employers who fall foul of certain pieces of employment legislation.
KPMG Ireland’s Legal Services team will be keeping you updated as matters progress. For further information on the Workplace Relations Bill and what it means for your company, please see the slides from our recent webinar ‘Workplace Relations Bill 2014: Towards an Effective Framework? (PDF, 487KB)’.
If you have any queries or comments on the Bill, please contact Aoife Newton, Head of Employment Law, KPMG Ireland.