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Legislation published to reform JLC/REA systems

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, published the Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2011 on 22nd December, to implement reforms to the Joint Labour Committee and Registered Employment Agreement wage setting mechanisms.

The principal measures in the legislation include:

  • JLCs will have the power to set a basic adult rate and two additional higher rates, based on length of service in the sector or enterprise concerned as well as the standards and skills recognised for the sector concerned
  • JLCs will no longer set Sunday premium rates. In order to recognise the special status of Sunday working a statutory Code of Practice will be prepared by the LRC following submissions from employers and trade unions.  This Code will provide guidance to both parties in the sectors covering EROs on the compensatory arrangements, including such additional amounts as are reasonable, for Sunday working and on the procedure to apply in the event of disputes concerning the varying entitlements to Sunday working.
  • Companies will be able to derogate from EROs and REAs in cases of financial difficulty. For this to occur, the Labour Court must satisfy itself that specified criteria have been met. Such derogation will be granted, for a limited period, in cases of proven economic difficulty, following consultation with the employees.
  • In setting rates, JLCs will have to take into account a series of economic and industrial relations factors
  • The burden of compliance and record-keeping requirements for employers in these sectors will be reduced
  •  Providing for Ministerial involvement in the supervision of JLCs and in the making of orders to  vary or revoke EROs
  •  Providing for use of civil remedies rather than an exclusive reliance on criminal sanctions.
  • The constitutionality of EROs and REAs will be restored through inclusion of robust principles and policies

The Minister also announced his intention to proceed with a series of complementary reforms to the JLC/REA systems which can be implemented without the need for legislative change, including:

  • Reducing the number of JLCs from 13 to 6
  • Standardising benefits such as overtime through a nationally agreed protocol or Code of Practice, through the normal process of consultation with the employers and trade union interests

See below links to bill and explanatory memorandum: