A new sectoral employment order has been introduced for the construction sector.  This is the first such order introduced under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 (2015 Act).

A sectoral employment order applies to every worker and employer in the relevant economic sector.  Where a contract of employment in the sector provides for rates of remuneration or conditions in relation to pension schemes or sick pay schemes that are less favourable than those provided for in the order, the relevant provisions of the order are substituted for the provisions of the contract.  

The new sectoral employment order has been introduced on foot of recommendations made by the Labour Court following a request made by the Construction Industry Federation.

In examining the request, the Labour Court invited written submissions and held a hearing at which oral submissions were made by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, UNITE, and the Trustees of the Construction Workers Pension Scheme.  

The Labour Court’s recommendations to the Minister are set out at the schedule to the order, and include the following:

  • The introduction of a basic minimum rate of pay of €17.04 per hour to apply to all general operatives who have worked in the sector for more than one year.
  • Higher hourly rates of pay for skilled general operatives (€18.36) and craft workers (€18.93).
  • A basic hourly rate of pay for apprentices (ranging from 33.3% of the craft worker rate in year 1 to 90% of the craft worker rate in year 4) and for general operatives who are new entrants (€13.77 per hour).
  • Payment for unsocial hours.
  • The introduction of a sector wide pension scheme no less favourable than the provisions of the existing Construction Workers Pensions Scheme.
  • The introduction of a sector wide sick pay scheme no less favourable than the existing Construction Industry Sick Pay scheme.

The Labour Court declined to recommend the inclusion of a travel allowance in the sectoral employment order.  This does not however affect existing contractual arrangements in this regard.

As required by the legislation, the recommendation also sets out a dispute resolution procedure, involving the referral of individual and collective complaints to the Workplace Relations Commission, and thereafter to the Labour Court.  Significantly, the recommendation provides that no form of industrial action is permitted in the construction sector until the dispute resolution procedure has been complied with.