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Govt drafts new employment legislation

Friday, August 01 11:47:41

The Government today said it has drafted new legislation that it says will help provide certainty for employers and employees as well as for businesses tendering for contracts.

It has approved the preparation of legislation to provide for a revised legislative framework to replace the Registered Employment Agreement system, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Minister of State for Business and Employment Gerald Nash announced today.

The move comes following the judgment by the Supreme Court in McGowan and others v the Labour Court, Ireland and the Attorney General, which held that Part III of the Industrial Relations Act 1946 was invalid having regard to Article 15.2.1 of the Constitution. The effect of this was to invalidate the registration of employment agreements previously registered under that piece of legislation.

The new mechanism will allow unions and employers to apply to the Labour Court to initiate a review of pay/pensions/sick pay terms of workers in a particular sector and make recommendations to the Minister for the making of an order in these areas. The new mechanism will also provide for flexibility in response to changing economic circumstances or changes in the make-up of a sector.

It will also help promote industrial peace in the crucial construction sector, and establish universal standards which will help prevent Irish firms being undercut in tendering for contracts. It will form part of a package of measures aimed at supporting the development of a sustainable, competitive Irish construction sector and create jobs in this crucial area, the Minister said.

Speaking today, the Minister Bruton said: "A central part of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs is supporting the development of a sustainable, competitive construction sector and creating jobs in this crucial area. Part of this is providing for a mechanism to replace the Registered Employment Agreements between staff and employers in the area. This is an important step in ensuring that businesses have certainty around wage costs when they tender for contracts. It is a crucial means of helping to provide for industrial peace, and in ensuring that Irish companies are not put at a disadvantage when tendering for contracts."

"However it is also crucial to ensure that these systems do not become rigid and inflexible, and do not become an impediment to job-creation in a fast-changing economic environment. For these reasons we have put in place a series of new safeguards, to ensure that employer and employee bodies are substantially representative, to provide for reviews of obligations in response to changing economic circumstances, and to ensure that they do not become a factor that causes the collapse of firms in financial difficulty."

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