INTRODUCTION

The Employment Law Group at Arthur Cox frequently advises English based employers on employment law and industrial relations issues relating to their Irish operations, which are often managed by English based HR professionals. In our experience, while the employment laws of both jurisdictions are similar, there is at times a misconception that the laws are identical. While there is undoubtedly a great deal of similarity in employment laws, given both are common law jurisdictions and members of the European Union, there are important, and often significant, differences.

KEY DIFFERENCES

The table below summarises 10 key differences of note. 

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DIFFERENCES IN PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

Aside from the principal differences in employment laws outlined above, there is a marked difference in practice and procedure in the progression of employment claims to hearing in the respective jurisdictions. While case management procedures apply in England and there are strict obligations with regard to the preparation of joint bundles of documents, witness statements, etc., no such arrangements currently apply in Ireland.

However, there has been recent significant reform of the employment rights bodies and Tribunals in Ireland, with the enactment of Workplace Relations Act 2015, which is to commence later this year. This Act establishes a new first instance body, the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”), from which all appeals will be heard by the Labour Court. These two bodies will replace the current system which includes first instance hearings at the Labour Relations Commission, the Equality Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal, with diverse routes of appeal and a separate enforcement regime operated under the aegis of the National Employment Rights Authority.

Nevertheless, differences in practice and procedure will remain. By way of example, employment claims heard at first instance before adjudication officers of the WRC will be held in private and evidence will not be given on oath. In addition, it is not envisaged that case management discussions will be held or that there will be a requirement for written submissions/ witness statements to be exchanged in advance of first instance hearings.

CONCLUSION

The above comparative analysis outlines some of the key differences between employment laws and practice and procedure in England and Ireland. It also highlights the benefit of seeking support locally where employment law or industrial relations issues arise in a foreign, albeit familiar, jurisdiction.