The question of whether or not further Employment Regulation Orders will be introduced has been at the forefront of employees minds in certain industries, particularly the Electrical Contracting Industry. The Labour Court has recently received requests in accordance with the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 to ‘examine the terms and conditions relating to remuneration and any sick pay scheme or pension scheme….’ of workers in the Electrical Contracting Industry.
The Labour Court has confirmed that they have received a number of submissions from unions arising from this request and a subsequent invitation issued by the Court in accordance with the Act at Section 15(3).
Background of Legislation
In August 2015, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 was enacted. The Act reintroduced Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) along with Sectorial Employment Orders (SEO) which is similar to the REA.
Registered Employment Agreements are local agreements that are only binding on the parties who entered the agreement. Sectorial Employment Orders, however, are binding agreements on entire industries.
In order for the Labour Court to conduct a review of pay, pension and sick pay within a certain industry, an SEO needs to be created by either a trade union or employers body that represents a substantial number of employees within the industry. The Labour Court will review the SEO, taking into account economic factors.
If they agree with the recommendations in the SEO it will be referred to the Minister and recommended that it be introduced. The Oireachtas must approve the SEO prior to it being introduced in an industry.
Current Situation for the Electrical Industry
The Labour Court is in the process of reviewing the submissions made by unions. Some of the submissions are requesting for the following;
- Rates of pay, sick pay and pension (upon retirement) that is consistent throughout the sector and protected by the state
- Stability, through the universal application of an order to ensure that all contractors can compete for work on a level playing field while workers continue to receive their entitlements
- Harmonious industrial relations supported by a dispute resolution mechanism
Unions have put forward a number of proposals such as;
- Minimum hourly rates for apprentices, electricians and supervisor electricians
- Extension of rest periods with pay and to add travel time to the working day, when calculating the total hours worked, in order to ensure rest periods are in line with the requirements as per the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
- Requests for a travel time scale to be introduced that outlines how much pay an employee should receive for distance travelled. Furthermore, a proposal for increased subsistence be paid to employees
- Requests for a minimum contribution rate for pensions be introduced
- To provide dispute resolution procedures
The next step would be for the Court to call a date for a public hearing.
This had been expected for some date in September, however, a High Court judicial review challenge which has been lodged by NECI (National Electrical Contractors Ireland) against the process of establishing a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for electrical contracting will be heard before then.
As outlined previously, prior to an SEO being introduced throughout the electrical sector, the Labour Court will be required to recommend to the Minister that changes should be introduced. Further to the recommendation of the Minister the Oireachtas will then need to sign off the SEO.
Graphite HRM will keep you updated on the progress of the SEO if you have any queries regarding this articles please contact the advice line on 01 886 0350