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Employment Law - A Year in Brief

14 Dec 2017

Brendan McCarron

Brightwater's Assistant Manager, Brendan McCarron discusses headline and ticket items from the 2017 Employment Law change and Industrial Action Ibec forum.

I attended an IBEC Forum on Wednesday which covered the headline and ticket items from 2017 in relation to Employment Law change and Industrial Action. There have been some really positive amendments to existing legislation, but other occurrences, particularly with little legal precedent, have raised questions which will be played out in the New Year or beyond.

IR
The bulk of industrial action in 2017 was related to the transport unions, Rail and Bus. A large majority of people reading will know this first hand, with cold, rain-sodden attempts to make their way home amidst the various strikes and commuter chaos.

IBEC has seen this as part of pattern of action across the past 5 years in the transport sector and we should see further action in 2018. There were really no other headline strike actions outside of the transport sector.

Retirement Age
The Employment Equality Bill introduced in 2016, created to change the mandatory retirement age, was the subject of political manoeuvring in 2017. Fianna Fail proposing deeper guidelines (such as annual capability assessments), is a concern that it will enable companies to ‘Manage Out’ with their own internal assessment schemes.

IBEC and the WRC are attempting to set out guidelines and best practices around feasibility/capability for people to carry out their duties and to safeguard employee rights to continue in work beyond the age of 65..

Maternity Leave
October 2017 saw a really positive change in maternity legislation to account for women who experience premature birth. The change allows for added time to the standard 26 weeks, equivalent to the expected birth date.

However, a paternity case in August 2017 found that there was no basis for gender discrimination for an employer making different provisions for women, and that maternity leave differs from paternity leave.

Unemployment:
IBEC reported that 2017 saw a 6.1% level, the lowest since 2008 and a 20-year low in redundancies.

All good news, so moving on…..

Worker Pay Rights:
Storm Ophelia raised the question in October around worker pay entitlements in relation to business closure and inability to travel to work locations.

It highlighted that under current law there is no legal obligation for an employer to pay workers for an unforeseen closure of business. In most cases grievances were raised in production environments, where closure meant a direct loss in company profit.

Companies who couldn’t pay were advised to attempt to recoup the missed hours/days with time made up, or offer annual leave entitlement.

However, some organisations attempting to cover this with Force Majeure were overruled as this did not constitute the circumstances where Force Majeure could be offered. New legislation will need to be explored to cover future instances, largely thanks to global warming and tropical Storms...

GDPR
There was an excellent overview on the GDPR roll-out for May 2018. This is a much covered subject so I won’t cover the points here. For anyone looking to come up to speed on the topic we have a presentation from John Keyes' Assistant Data Protection Commissioner on our website.  Click here to view presentation.

Many thanks to IBEC for hosting the Forum on Wednesday. 

Brightwater's Assistant Manager - Brendan McCarron 
For information about current and future opportunities available within HR which may be of interest to you, contact me on 01 662 1000 or email b.mccarron@brightwater.ie