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2022 has been a significant year for employment law. Draft legislation has been published on statutory sick pay and codes of practice for pay inequality and harassment in the workplace. The Irish Government has agreed to the introduction of a new living wage to be phased in over a four-year period, and this will replace the minimum wage. We discuss four important updates for employers - Gender Pay Gap Information Act and Regulations, the Work Life Balance Bill, the Employment Permits Bill 2022 and new Protected Disclosures legislation.

Gender Pay Gap Information Act and Regulations

Gender Pay Gap (GPG) is the difference in the average hourly wage of males and females across a workforce. The Gender Pay Gap Act and Regulations became effective on 31 May 2022 and provide a framework for employers to calculate the gap in pay between males and females. The legislation requires certain employers to publish reports outlining specified information about their GPG. Organisations with over 250 employees were required to report on their GPG for the first time in December 2022. It is important for organisations which fall within the GPG reporting requirements to ensure they have the necessary internal systems in place to capture, analyse and report on their GPG.

Read full article: Gender Pay Gap Regulations Published

Work Life Balance Bill

The Irish Government recently announced an amended version of the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, which the government has indicated it plans to push through the legislative approval process very quickly.

What the revised Bill does is amend the Parental Leave Act to do three things:

  1. Provide for the introduction of leave for medical care purposes to allow an employee to provide “significant care or support for a serious medical reason” to a specified person
  2. Provide for the introduction of leave for reasons related to domestic violence, and
  3. Provide for the introduction of a right to request a flexible working arrangement for caring purposes. This is much narrower than a general right to request flexible or remote working arrangements although it does include a request to adjust working hours or patterns including through the use of remote working arrangements. The request may be made by a parent for the purposes of providing care:
  • To a child under the age of 12 or, if the child is adopted, between the ages of 10 and 12 within two years of the adoption, or under the age of 16 if the child has a disability
  • To a spouse, cohabitant, parent, grandparent, sibling or someone who resides with the employee and is in need of “significant care or support for a serious medical reason”

We advise that employers take note of the provisions of the current draft of the Bill and make necessary preparations for its eventual enactment.

Read full article: Work Life Balance Bill Update

Employment Permits Bill 2022

The Employment Permits Bill 2022 was published on 4 October 2022. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has stated that the purpose of the legislation is to make the permit system more responsive to Ireland’s evolving labour market. This legislation will consolidate the previous Employment Permits Acts (2003, 2006 and 2014) into a single piece of legislation, thereby making the law easier to navigate for those making applications. The Bill also introduces two new types of permits; one for contractors whose employers are based outside Ireland; and a seasonal employment permit for those who work in seasonal industries.

Additionally, under the Bill, the Minister has the power to specify conditions related to the granting of employment permits. These include accommodation, training or expenses, which should be provided to a foreign national to whom an employment permit is granted. Interestingly, the Bill also specifies that the Minister can make regulations on training and provision for employees other than those to whom the employment permits relate in the employer company.

Read full article: Employment Permits Bill 2022 Published

Protected Disclosures

The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 significantly expands the scope of the protections for those who make protected disclosures.

The Act places new and enhanced obligations on organisations with more than 50 employees to have processes in place to facilitate workers in making protected disclosures.

The Act extends protection further than employees and includes people applying for jobs, those undergoing training, shareholders, members of boards and volunteers.

In addition, the list of actions which could constitute penalisation has been expanded to include:

  • Negative performance assessments
  • Failure to renew a temporary contract
  • Harm to reputation via social media, and
  • Psychiatric or medical referrals

There is now a requirement for employers with more than 50 employees to facilitate the making of whistleblowing reports with a duty to “establish, maintain and operate internal reporting channels and procedures.” Where an employer has between 50 – 249 employees, this requirement will not come into effect until 17 December 2023. Relevant organisations need to put in place channels for the making of reports, for following up on these reports, and providing feedback to the discloser.

Read full article: Protected Disclosures in Ireland

Conclusion

Our Employment Law & Benefits team has unrivalled experience in acting for clients in all types of contentious and non-contentious employment issues. For more information on how we can assist your organisation in resolving and managing these issues in 2023, contact Melanie Crowley or another member of our Employment Law and Benefits team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.



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