There are many key legislative changes on the way in the employment law area that will impact on how employers manage their business. They are as follows:-

Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 (Whistleblowing)

This legislation, which is expected to be enacted next month or before the summer recess, will have a significant impact on the way in which employers manage their businesses. Public sector employers will be required (mandatory obligation) to have whistleblowing policies in place. As a matter of best practice, private sector employers should also consider (if they have not already done so) putting whistleblowing policies in place which encourage employees to disclose "relevant wrongdoings" to them in the first instance. To date, whistleblowing has existed on a sector by sector basis. This Bill will introduce overarching whistleblowing protection in Ireland covering all sectors.

For more information please note that this topic will be covered in detail at our seminar on Tuesday 10h June.

Employment Law Permits Bill 2014

This Bill consolidates the existing legislation (the Employment Permits Acts 2003 and 2006) and provides nine different purposes for which Employment Permits may be granted. The most commonly known Green Card permit system will be replaced by a Critical Skills Employment Permits.

It is also designed to address the constitutional deficiency identified in the High Court case of Hussein v The Labour Court and Ors [2012] IEHC 364 in which Hogan J. overturned an award of approximately €90,000 in back pay on the basis that the employment contract was illegal because the employee had no valid work permit.

Industrial Relations reform

The Government recently announced that it is to reform the Industrial Relations Act 2001 by including a definition of collective bargaining (the reform does not provide for mandatory collective bargaining) and identifying policies and principles for the Labour Court to follow in assessing a worker's terms and conditions including the sustainability of the employer's business in the long term.

The fact that the proposals do not include mandatory collective bargaining is likely to be welcomed by employers in Ireland and the retention of the voluntarist system of industrial relations.

Employment Rights Bodies reform

The Workplace Relations Commission Bill is due to be published before the summer recess. It will overhaul the manner in which employment claims are processed and adjudicated upon. The changes should accelerate and streamline the processing of claims in Ireland. A single body of first instance known as the Workplace Relations Commission will adjudicate on all complaints and the Labour Court will become an appellate body.