Recent developments in employment law

There has been significant legislative developments in the employment sphere in Ireland this year and we thought it would be useful to set out a number of the key changes below.

Increase in National Minimum Wage

The national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee was increased to €9.15 per hour with effect from 1 January 2016. An experienced adult employee for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act is one who has completed at least two years of employment, is over the age of 18 and/or is a trainee undergoing an approved course.

Compulsory Retirement Age

The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act which commenced in January 2016 introduced a statutory obligation to objectively justify the setting of compulsory retirement ages within an employer’s workforce in Ireland. From this year, a mandatory retirement age must be objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, appropriate and necessary.

Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act, 2016 (the “2016 Act”)

The 2016 Act introduced the concept of “spent convictions” into Irish law for the first time, whereby a range of certain minor offences become spent after 7 years. This means that an adult convicted of an offence covered by the 2016 Act does not have to disclose the conviction after 7 years, except in certain circumstances. The 2016 Act does not apply to any sexual offence, an offence that was tried in the Central Criminal Court, or an offence resulting in a prison sentence of greater than 12 months. The 2016 Act provides that employees cannot be penalised for non-declaration of spent convictions and in so doing restricts employers ability to penalise an employee for non-disclosure.

Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 (the “Act” )

From 1 September 2016, an employee who is a “relevant parent” in relation to a child is entitled to 2 weeks’ leave from his or her employment (“Paternity Leave”) to help care for the child or to provide support. Paternity Leave benefit, like basic maternity leave benefit is paid by the Irish State. The current rate of paternity benefit is €230 per week. It is at the employer’s discretion if it pays an employee during Paternity Leave. There is no minimum service requirement to avail of Paternity Leave.

Paternity Leave is available to: (i) the father of the child; (ii) the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother; (iii) where the child is a donor-conceived child, the husband, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother; and (iv) for adopted children (a) the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting mother (or sole male adopter of the child), or (b) the spouse chosen by that couple to be the “relevant parent” in circumstances involving joint adoption by a same-sex married couple.