Significant employment law changes on the Government’s legislative agenda
The Government has published its Legislation Programme for Spring Session 2022 here. As part of the Programme, the Government has listed 41 items of ‘Priority Legislation for Drafting and Publication’, along with 91 items under the heading ‘All Other Legislation’.
The items of interest from an employment law perspective under the list of Priority Legislation include the following:
- The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill which will transpose the EU Whistleblowing Directive and introduce significant changes to the existing protected disclosures regime. The deadline for transposition of the Directive passed on 17 December 2021. The Government published the Heads of Bill in July 2021 but the draft Bill is still awaited. For more information on this Bill, see our briefing here.
- The Right to Request Remote Work Bill which will provide a legal framework for requesting, approving or refusing a request for remote work. The Heads of Bill were published on 25 January 2022. The Government has committed to publishing the draft Bill by Easter and passing the legislation before the summer recess. For more information on this Bill, see our briefing here.
- The Sick Leave Bill which will introduce an entitlement to statutory sick leave for an employee who would ordinarily work but is incapable of doing so due to illness or injury. The Heads of Bill were published in November 2021. The publication of the draft Bill is awaited. For more information on this Bill, see our briefing here.
- The Work-life Balance Bill which is aimed at increasing the participation of women in the labour market and the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements. The Bill will also contain provisions for Domestic Violence Leave. The Bill will transpose the EU Directive on Work Life Balance for Parents and Carers, the transposition deadline for which is August 2022. We await publication of the Heads of Bill.
- The Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill which will consolidate the Employment Permits Acts and make certain amendments to modernise the employment permits system and increase its responsiveness. The Heads of Bill were approved in July 2019 but the draft Bill is still awaited.
Other items of interest listed under ‘All Other Legislation’ are:
- The Protection of Employment (Collective Redundancies) (Amendment) Bill which will introduce reforms to enhance the rights of employees in the context of collective redundancies following insolvency within the Protection of Employment Act 1977. We await publication of the Heads of Bill.
- The Registration of Trade Unions Bill which will modernise and consolidate the existing legislation in respect of the registration requirements for trade unions. We await publication of the Heads of Bill.
- The transposition of the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions which is aimed at ensuring that all workers have the right to more complete information on the essential aspects of the work, the right to seek additional employment, with a ban on exclusivity clauses, and the right to more predictable working schedules. The deadline for transposition of the Directive is August 2022. We await publication of the Heads of Bill.
- The Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill which will extend the period during which breastfeeding breaks can be taken from 26 weeks to two years. We await publication of the Heads of Bill.
Finally, it is worth noting that the following Bills are already on the Dáil or Seanad Order Paper:
- The Higher Education Authority Bill 2022 which seeks to reform the supervision and regulation of higher education institutions and modernise the regulatory role of the Higher Education Authority. The Bill was published on 7 January 2022 and is currently at Second Stage in the Dáil.
- The Redundancy Payments (Amendment) Bill 2022 which will give employees who lost out on reckonable service while on lay-off due to COVID-19 restrictions, and have subsequently been made redundant, a special payment of up to a maximum payment of €1,860 tax-free to bridge the gap in their redundancy entitlements. The Bill was published on 21 January 2022 and is currently at Second Stage in the Dáil.
- The Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Bill 2022 which will provide further protection for employees in relation to the payment of wages by prohibiting the use of tips to ‘make up’ contractual entitlements to pay. The Bill will also require employers to clearly display their policy on how tips, gratuities and service charges are distributed and will ensure that customers are given clear information about where their tips and service charges go. The Bill was laid before the Seanad on 24 January 2022, when it completed First Stage.
While the Legislation Programme is helpful in providing an indication of the legislation will can expect during the current Dáil term, the Government has not completed the entirety of the Legislation Programme in previous sessions, even in respect of those items listed as Priority Legislation, so it remains to be seen which initiatives will ultimately pass into law this session. We will keep you updated as any of the items of interest progress through the legislative process.