2022 has been a busy year in a lot of ways. We have come through the global pandemic and are still finding our feet in new ways of working, incorporating remote and hybrid working models and the changes to company culture that it brings. Across all sectors we saw an increase in demand for talent, with a very unpredictable hiring environment. As the year draws to a close, companies are beginning to right size and so we will likely have new challenges to manage coming into 2023.
On the employment legislation front, there has been plenty of important changes implemented which we have summarised below.
1. Sick Leave Act 2022
2. The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022
3. Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021
4. Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022
5. Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2021
6. Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022
7. Code of Practice on Harassment 2022
8. Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019
9. Minimum Wage 2022
Sick Leave Act 2022
Up to now, there was no statutory right to company paid sick leave in Ireland, although many employers have their own policies on how they manage sick pay.
From 1 January 2023 the entitlement to sick pay will commence. This is being brought in on a phased basis starting with up to 3 paid sick days per year in 2023, increasing to 5 days in 2024, 7 days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026.
Employees with 13 weeks continuous service will be eligible and need to provide a medical certificate for the days of absence.
The rate of pay for these sick days is 70% of normal wages up to a maximum €110 per day.
The Bill also states that the obligations under the legislation shall not apply to an employer who already provides employees with a sick leave scheme where the terms of that scheme are, as a whole, more favourable to the employee than statutory sick leave.
The entitlement to Illness Benefit still remains. Employees with enough PRSI contributions can claim illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection. If the employer already provides sick pay, they may ask you to sign over any Illness Benefit payment to them for as long as the sick pay continues.
The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022
The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022 or “whistleblowing” as it is known will extend the protections afforded by the 2014 act.
The amended laws initially apply to all public sector organisations and to all private sector organisations with 250 or more employees. Private sector organisations with 50 or more will need to comply from 17th December 2023.
The key aspects of this bill include the requirement for employers to establish and maintain internal reporting channels and procedures for employees to make protected disclosures and to have a designated person to deal with complaints within a set timeframe. It broadens the definition of ‘worker’ covered under the act including volunteers, shareholders and job applicants.
Whistleblowing company policies will need to be put in place or updated to reflect this amendment.
Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021
The gender pay gap is the difference in the average hourly wage of men and women across a workforce. The gender pay gap in Ireland is estimated to be at 14% on average. Organisations with over 250 employees are required to report on their Gender Pay Gap for the first time in 2022. The deadline for publication of the employer’s gender pay gap information is 6 months after their chosen snapshot date in June of the relevant year. For the 2022 reporting cycle, the information does not have to be submitted to the Minister but must published on the employer’s website or in some other way in a manner that is accessible to all its employees and to the public.
The reporting applies to all employees on the chosen snapshot date including full time, part time, and those on temporary contracts.
These reporting requirements will then apply to organisations with less than 250 employees on or after the second anniversary of the regulations (2023) and to organisations with less than 150 employees on or after the third anniversary (2024).
The Gender Pay Gap Regulations have been published and are effective from May 2022 and they set out the detail of the reporting obligations under the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021.
These Regulations provide information and a framework for employers. The regulations set out how to calculate the gap in pay between male and female employees, the types of remuneration to be included and how an employee’s total number of working hours can be calculated.
Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022
This Bill introduces the Right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes. The Bill is expected to be enacted by the end of the year.
An employee who is the parent of a child up to age 12 (or up to age 16 if the child has a disability or illness) and who is or will be providing care to that child or an employee who is or will be providing personal care or support to certain specified persons may apply for a flexible working arrangement for the purpose of providing care or support to such persons.
Additionally, the Bill contains an entitlement for employees to avail of up to 5 days unpaid leave (in any 12 consecutive month period) for medical care purposes, for the purposes of providing personal care or support to a certain specified persons, including to a child, spouse/civil partner, cohabitant, parent or grandparent, brother or sister or a person who resides in the same household as the employee, where any of those persons is in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason.
Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2021
This long anticipated Bill had been delayed to 2023 however, in an announcement on 9th November, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment confirmed that the right to request remote working is to be integrated into the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 (as discussed above). This ‘Integrated Bill’ is expected to be enacted by the end of this year.
Under the Integrated Bill, remote working will be defined as one type of flexible working and the right to request it will be available to all employees while other types of flexible working will only be applicable to the specific categories as above.
Once enacted, it will give all employees the legal right to request remote working. The Bill will identify the justifiable grounds why employers may be unable to approve such requests. These grounds will be fewer that initially expected.
Employers are encouraged to start preparing for this by developing their remote and blended working policies.
Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022
This Act gives new rights to employees, prohibiting employers from using tips and gratuities to ‘make up’ contractual rates of pay. The Payment of Wages (Application of Sections 4B to 4F) Regulations 2022 was signed into law on 28 October 2022, providing for the application of the Payment of Wages (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022 to certain sectors with effect from 1 December 2022.
Until now, there was no legislation which obliged employers to pass on any tips received by them to their staff. This legislation introduces new requirements for employers to clearly display their policy on how card and cash tips, gratuities and mandatory charges are treated.
Code of Practice on Harassment
In March 2022 the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) developed and published the new Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work.
The code seeks to promote the development and implementation of policies and procedures that establish working environments free of harassment in which the dignity of everyone is respected. It sets out policies and procedures that establish work environments which are free of harassment and respect everyone’s dignity.
The Code contains some new advice on the development of company policies such as the introduction of a Competent Person in the process.
Importantly, the Code sets out that a company policy should include a commitment to training managers, supervisors, and all staff on strategies to prevent harassment.
We can provide companies with the services of a Competent person where they are unable to resource or identify an internal person. Get in touch with us if you would like to discuss this further.
We can also provide you with an update to your current policies to ensure they need these new legislative changes.
Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019
Parent’s leave entitles each parent to paid leave from employment during the first 2 years of a child’s life.
From 1st July 2022 Parent’s Leave increased from 5 weeks to 7 weeks for children born or adopted after 1st July 2022.
If you have enough PRSI contributions, employees are entitled to Parent’s Benefit for these 7 weeks.
From 1 January 2022, the national minimum wage increased from €10.20 to €10.50 per hour. Now from 1 January 2023, the national minimum wage will increase by a further 80c from 10:50 per hour €11.30 per hour.
Laura Banfield, Voltedge Management Senior HR Consultant