As we embark on a new year we know that 2017 is going to be as interesting and exciting as 2016 was! In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the key trends and challenges in HR for 2017 and beyond, including highlighting some forthcoming legislative changes to watch out for.
National Minimum Wage Increase
With effect from 1 January 2017, the national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee was increased to from €9.15 to €9.25 per hour.
The national minimum wage applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees, except the following categories of employees who are excluded from its provisions:
- close relatives of the employer, such as a spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother and sister;
- apprentices within the meaning of the Industrial Training Act 1967 and Labour Services Act 1987.
An experienced adult employee, for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act, is an employee who has an employment of any kind, in any 2 years, over the age of 18.
The following is a table detailing the national minimum wage for experienced adult employees and the sub-minimum rates for young people and certain trainees:
|Category||Minimum hourly rate of pay||% of minimum wage|
|Experienced adult worker||€9.25||100%|
|Aged under 18||€6.48||70%|
|First year from date of first employment aged over 18||€7.40||80%|
|Second year from date of first employment aged over 18||€8.33||90%|
|Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours:
· 1st one third period
· 2nd one third period
· 3rd one third period
Note: each one third period must be at least one month and no more than one year.
Employers need to be very aware of their obligation to pay the National Minimum Wage. During 2016 the Workplace Relations Commission investigated a large number of cases of underpayment of the National Minimum Wage. It is important to note that a claim under the National Minimum Wage Act can go back 6 years. It is also possible for the employee to bring claims under the Organisation of Working Time Act in respect of holiday pay and public holiday pay.
Family Leave Bill
The government is drafting a Bill which will consolidate, with amendments, all existing family leave legislation including maternity, parental, adoptive and carers’ leave.
In early 2016, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform invited stakeholder groups to make submissions to participate in and respond to the framing of the proposed legislation. Given the timescales, the resulting legislation will potentially be introduced during 2017.
Employee Share Schemes
Following the recent public consultation on the issue of share-based remuneration, Minister Michael Noonan announced, as part of Budget 2017, his intention to develop a new, SME-focused, share-based incentive scheme which would be introduced in Budget 2018. The introduction of any such incentive will be subject to it having received approval from the European Commission under state aid rules. Any resulting initiative will be welcome as employee share incentive schemes are an effective way of offering tax savings to employees, encouraging employee participation and retaining staff.
Post-Brexit Opportunities and Challenges for Ireland
In a historic referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. Since then, many have been wondering what the impact of Brexit will be for Ireland. One of the major upsides for Ireland in 2017 will be the opportunity for jobs growth as more organisations look to set up European hubs in Ireland.
For Irish businesses that are exporting to the UK, exchange rate volatility will be their key immediate challenge. Since the Brexit referendum result Sterling has fallen by 18% against the Euro. This fall in Sterling will increase the cost of Irish exports to the UK and will mean increased competition in the form of British imports.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on the 25th May 2018, replacing the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive. The GDPR introduces significant changes to European data protection law, in particular severe financial penalties for non-compliance. It is important that companies start preparing in 2017 for the introduction of these new rules. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has issued useful guidance on how to prepare for the GDPR and the document can be viewed here.
Get advice on Employment & Labour Laws in Ireland. Contact us now at 01-5252914 for any advice.
Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant