The Sectoral Employment Order (Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector) 2018 ("SEO") has been signed into law by Minister Pat Breen. It takes effect from 6 March 2018 and applies to certain workers in the mechanical engineering building services sector (the "Sector").

The SEO will affect an estimated 10,000 qualified plumbers and pipefitters, and registered apprentice plumbers and pipefitters, working in the Sector. This is the second SEO enacted into law following the establishment of the SEO framework by the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. This was designed to replace the old Registered Employment Agreement system which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013 (for further detail see our previous article here).

Pay Rates

The new rates for the Sector, are as follows:

Category Who this will affect Rates (per hour)
Category 1 Worker Newly qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector €22.73
Category 2 Worker Qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector with effect from the commencement of their 3rd year of employment after qualification as a plumber or pipefitter €23.33
Category 3 Worker Qualified plumbers and pipefitters employed in the Sector with effect from the commencement of their 6th year of employment after qualification as a plumber or pipefitter €23.60

The rates for apprentices in the Sector has also been increased, with rates of 33.3% of the Category 1 hourly rate of pay for Year 1 Apprentices to 90% of the Category 1 hourly rate of pay for Year 4 Apprentices.

Minister Pat Breen has confirmed that these rates are in line with the voluntary agreement developed by employers and unions in the Sector with the assistance of the Workplace Relations Commission, which provided most recently for a 2.5% increase from 1 March 2018.

The SEO provides that a normal working week in this Sector will consist of 39 hours between Monday and Friday. Anything above these hours will attract various premium payments as follows:

Description Premium
Hours worked between normal finishing time and Midnight Monday to Friday inclusive Time and a half
Ours worded between midnight and normal starting time Monday to Friday Double time
First four hours worked after 7am on Saturday Time and a half
All other hours worked on Saturday Double time
All hours worked on Sunday Double time
All hours worked on public Holidays Double time and an additional day's leave

Other Conditions of Employment

The SEO includes a right to a pension scheme, death in service scheme and sick pay scheme.

The SEO also provides for a dispute resolution procedure. This outlines certain procedures that have to be complied with when a dispute occurs between workers to whom the SEO relates and their employers before, any form of industrial action can take place.

The SEO is legally binding on all employers in the Sector, whether or not they are members of a union and whether or not they agree with the SEO. As such, employers are advised to review their rates and terms to ensure that they align with the new SEO.

Minister Pat Breen stated that "this measure is a further important step in consolidating employment terms and conditions in the construction sector and maintaining the attractiveness for employment in that sector".