Minister Pat Breen has approved a draft order for new pay rates in the Mechanical Engineering Building Contracting Sector (the "Sector"). These new pay rates will affect workers such as plumbers and pipefitters and other workers in this Sector.

Background

The draft order follows an application to the Labour Court by parties including the Connect trade union (formerly TEEU) in January 2017 to review the terms and conditions of workers in the Sector. The Labour Court reviewed submissions made and submitted its own recommendation to the Minister at the end of last year.

If the draft is approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, it will come into law and take effect by means of a new Sectoral Employment Order (SEO). This will be the second SEO coming into law following the SEO framework which was established by the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. This new SEO system was designed to replace the old Registered Employment Agreement system which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.

New Rates

The new rates for the Sector, if adopted into law, will be 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.

The draft order provides for a definition of a normal working week to consist of 39 hours between Monday and Friday, with anything above that being treated as "unsocial hours" attracting various premia. The draft order also includes increases in pension contributions, death in service scheme contributions and sick pay schemes.

Comment

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".

Employers in the Sector are advised to review their rates and terms, as the SEO will be legally binding on all employers in the Sector if and when the SEO takes effect.