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Legislative Programme.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 15 November 2006

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Questions (145)

Ivor Callely

Question:

208 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will advise of all employment legislation put in place over the past seven years; the benefits arising from same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38080/06]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

The following is a list of all employee protection legislation enacted by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment over the past seven years and the main provisions of each piece of legislation: Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 2000 — S. I. No. 11 of 2000. The purpose of these Regulations is to give effect, in respect of night workers and shift workers, to the safety and health protection provisions of Article 9 of EU Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. Inter alia they require employers, who employ night workers, to carry out — for the purposes of the maximum hours of night working permitted under sections 16(2)(a) and 16(2)(b) of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (i.e., the Act by which the main provisions of the Directive have been implemented domestically) — an assessment of the health and safety risks attaching to the work of night workers whom they employ with a view to determining whether that work involves special hazards or a heavy physical or mental strain. They also require employers, whose night workers become ill or exhibit symptoms of ill-health as a result of performing night work, to re-assign such workers to day work suited to them whenever possible.

These Regulations also revoke and replace the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 485 of 1998). Their purpose is to avoid possible confusion as regards the application of the provisions of Regulation 6 of S.I. No. 485 of 1998 to night workers (Regulation 7 of these Regulations refers). The Regulations do not involve new obligations or conditions not intended in the 1998 Regulations.

Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001-S.I. No. 473 of 2001. The main purpose of these Regulations is to require employers, pursuant to the Organisation of Working Time Act,1997, to keep: (a) a record of the number of hours worked by employees (excluding meals and rest breaks) on a daily and weekly basis; (b) a record of leave granted to employees in each week by way of annual leave or in respect of a public holiday and payment made in respect of that leave; (c) a weekly record of the notification of the starting and finishing times of employees.

The Regulations also require that an employer keep a copy of the statement provided to each employee under the provisions of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994. The Regulations also provide for exemptions subject to certain conditions, in relation to the keeping by employers of records of rest breaks and rest periods of employees under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Organisation of Working Time (National Day of Mourning) Regulations 2001 — S.I. No. 419 of 2001. These Regulations appointed Friday, 14th September 2001 to be a National Day of Mourning in sympathy with all those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in the United States of America on Tuesday 11th September 2001.

Organisation of Working Time (Inclusion of Transport Activities) Regulations 2004 — S.I. No. 817 of 2004. These Regulations transpose the provisions of Council Directive 2000/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2000 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in relation to transport workers other than (a) workers performing mobile road transport activities as provided for in Directive 2002/15/EC and (b) mobile staff in civil aviation as defined in the Annex to Council Directive 2000/79/EC of 27 November 2000. The effect of the transposition of Directive 2000/34/EC is to apply the maximum average working week of 48 hours to mobile and non-mobile transport workers covered by that Directive.

In addition, these Regulations prescribe that persons employed in the activities specified in Regulations 6 and 8 of these Regulations shall be exempt from the application of sections 11, 12 and 13 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which deal respectively with daily rest, rests and intervals at work and weekly rest, subject to being granted adequate rest or equivalent compensatory rest. Such persons shall also be exempt from the application of section 16 of that Act which deals with nightly working hours.

Organisation of Working Time (Inclusion of Offshore Work) Regulations 2004. These Regulations transpose the provisions of Council Directive 2000/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2000 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in relation to offshore work which means work performed mainly on, or from, offshore installations (including drilling rigs), directly or indirectly in connection with the exploration, extraction or exploitation of mineral resources, including hydrocarbons, and diving in connection with such activities, whether performed from offshore installations or a vessel. The effect of the transposition of directive 2000/34/EC is to apply the maximum average working week of 48 hours to offshore workers covered by the Directive.

In addition these Regulations exempt employees engaged in offshore work from sections 11, 12, 13 and 16 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which deal respectively with daily rest, rests and intervals at work, weekly rest, and maximum nightly working hours.

European Communities (Safeguarding of Employees' Rights on Transfer of Undertakings) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 487 of 2000). These Regulations were revoked and replaced by S.I. No. 131 of 2003 as follows: European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 131 of 2003). These Regulations protect the rights of employees arising from an employment contract in the event of a transfer of a business or part of a business, in which they are employed, which entails a change of employer.

Carer's Leave Act 2001. This Act provides for the temporary absence from employment of employees for the purpose of the provision of full-time care and attention to a person requiring it and to protect the employment rights of those employees during such absence.

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001. This Act introduced procedures for resolving industrial disputes in situations where it is not the practice of an employer to engage in collective bargaining negotiations and where the internal dispute resolution procedures (if any) normally used by the parties concerned failed to resolve the dispute. The Act was introduced in conjunction with S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution.

Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004. This Act enhanced the effectiveness of dispute resolution procedures put in place by the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001. The Bill also introduced a prohibition on victimisation of employees who are members of a union, managers discharging their managerial functions and other employees in the context of a dispute where collective bargaining arrangements are not in place and to provide for a procedure to deal with complaints of victimisation. The Act was introduced in conjunction with S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — an enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution and in conjunction with S.I. No. 139 of 2004 — Code of Practice on Victimisation.

S.I. No. 8 of 2006 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Access to Part-Time Working) (Declaration) Order 2006. The introduction of a Code of Practice on access to part-time working accords with the principle of minimising the potential for indirect discrimination in relation to part-time working and introduces positive measures to eliminate obstacles and barriers and encourage greater participation in employment on a number of grounds, as set down in the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2004.

S.I. No. 139 of 2004 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Victimisation) (Declaration) Order 2004. This code of practice provides for a procedure to deal with a complaint of victimisation of an employee, as defined in the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004.

S.I. No. 76 of 2004 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution) (Declaration) Order 2004. This is an enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution and replaces the Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution that was introduced in the year 2000. It introduces time scales to the procedure for the resolution of industrial disputes in situations where it is not the practice of an employer to engage in collective bargaining and it was introduced in conjunction with the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004.

S.I. No. 17 of 2002 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice detailing Procedures for Addressing Bullying in the Workplace) (Declaration) Order 2002. This code of practice acts as a guide for employers, employees and their representatives on effective procedures for addressing allegations of workplace bullying by setting out a formal and informal procedure for addressing such grievances.

S.I. No. 146 of 2000 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures) (Declaration) Order 2000. This assists in the resolution of disputes relating to grievance or disciplinary matters by setting out guidelines on the application of grievance and disciplinary procedures and the promotion of best practice in giving effect to such procedures.

S.I. No 145 of 2000 — Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution) (Declaration) Order 2000. This sets out the voluntary procedure for the resolution of disputes in situations where collective bargaining did not take place. Was replaced in 2004.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000. This Act introduced a National Minimum Wage for the first time in Ireland. Low paid workers benefited from its introduction, particularly women, young people and part-time workers.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2000. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay at £4.40 and also sets out the monetary allowances for (i) full board and lodgings, (ii) full board only and (iii) lodgings only, which may be included by an employer in calculating the national minimum hourly rate of pay of an employee, not exceeding those specified in the Order.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000. This Order appoints the 1st day of April, 2000 as the day on which the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 comes into operation.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (Prescribed Courses of Study or Training) Regulations 2000. This Order prescribes the criteria a course of study or training must satisfy in order that an employee undergoing such a course and who is aged 18 or over, shall be paid in accordance with section 16(1) of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) (No. 2) Order 2000. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 July 2001 at £4.70 and from 1 October 2002 at £5.00.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2003. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 February 2004 at €7.00.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (National Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay) Order 2005. This Order sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay from 1 May, 2005 at €7.65.

Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice detailing procedures for addressing bullying in the workplace) (Declaration) Order 2002. This Order sets out the Code of Practice detailing procedures for addressing bullying in the workplace.

Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001. This Act provides that a part-time employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee in respect of conditions of employment including pay and pensions. In order to invoke the anti-discrimination provisions in the Act, the part-time employee must find a full-time comparator with (a) the same or associated employer or, (b) where (a) does not apply, as specified in a collective agreement or, (c) where neither (a) nor (b) applies, in the same sector or industry. In the case of (a) and (c) above, the part-time employee and the comparable full-time employee, must perform the same work or similar work or work of greater or equal value.

The only way the employer could avoid granting the part-time employee equal terms with the full-time employee in the above circumstances, would be, if he or she had objective grounds for treating the part-time employee less favourably than the comparable full-time employee.

Under the 2001 Act, a ground shall not be regarded as an objective ground for the purposes of the Act, unless it is based on considerations other than the status of the employee concerned as a fixed-term employee, and the less favourable treatment which it involves for that employee, is for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer, and such treatment is appropriate and necessary for that purpose.

Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work Act) 2003. This Act provides that a fixed-term employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee in respect of conditions of employment including pay and pensions. In order to invoke the anti-discrimination provisions in the Act, the fixed-term employee must find a permanent comparator with (a) the same or associated employer or, (b) where (a) does not apply, as specified in a collective agreement or, (c) where neither (a) nor (b) applies, in the same sector or industry. In the case of (a) and (c) above, the fixed-term employee and the comparable permanent employee, must perform the same work or similar work or work of greater or equal value.

The only way the employer could avoid granting the fixed-term employee equal terms with the permanent employee in the above circumstances or granting a service related benefit in the above circumstances, would be, if he or she had objective grounds for treating the fixed-term employee less favourably than the comparable permanent employee.

Under the 2003 Act, a ground shall not be regarded as an objective ground for the purposes of the Act, unless it is based on considerations other than the status of the employee concerned as a fixed-term employee, and the less favourable treatment which it involves for that employee, is for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer, and such treatment is appropriate and necessary for that purpose.

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 also provides in relation to an employee who enters on a fixed-term contract of employment before the commencement of the Act — on 14 July 2003 — that if that employee is employed continuously on such a contract of employment for three continuous years, his or her contract of employment can only be renewed one more time on a fixed-term basis for up to one year and that if it is renewed again after that, it is deemed to be a contract of indefinite duration — unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contract of employment again on a fixed-term basis.

In addition, the 2003 Act provides in relation to an employee who enters on a fixed-term contract of employment after the commencement of the Act, that if that employee is employed on such a contract of employment for four continuous years and the contract is renewed again after that, then it is deemed to be one of indefinite duration unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contract of employment again on a fixed-term basis.

In 2003, a amendment to the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984 under a provision in the Redundancy Payments Act 2003 enabled the existing arrangement for processing claims for payment in lieu of notice under the Insolvency Payments Scheme to be streamlined and output to be increased. The effect of this amendment was to allow employees covered by the Insolvency Payments Scheme to claim their minimum notice entitlements without first having obtained an award from the Employment Appeals Tribunal. That, in turn, freed the EAT to take on more cases under other legislation. As a result of the amendment, In most cases, all the main claims could be processed together following the amendment, speeding up payments to employees.

The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 was commenced in two phases viz (1) The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2003 brought the new enhanced levels of redundancy into being on 25th May, 2003 i.e. two weeks pay for every year of service between 16 and 66, plus a bonus week. Hitherto, the rates were much lower — a half a week's pay for every year of service up to 41 and a weeks pay for every year of service over 41. (2) The Redundancy Payments Act 2003 (Commencement) Order 2005 implemented on 10th April, 2005 the remaining provisions improving statutory redundancy pursuant to the Redundancy Payments Act 2003. This mainly involved simplifying the legislative basis of the Redundancy Payments Scheme and cleared the way for the Department's new on-line System for processing statutory redundancy employee lump sum and employer rebate claims. The system went "live" on 31st May, 2005 and has proved to be a major success, with 52% usage in October 2006.

(3) In addition to these two benefits resulting from the 2003 Act, the Redundancy Payments (Lump Sum) Regulations 2004 increased from €507.90 to €600 the ceiling on weekly gross pay which must be taken into account when calculating a statutory redundancy lump sum entitlement.

In 2005, a set of regulations — the European Communities (Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency)) Regulations 2005 — extended the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984 to cover employees in Ireland of companies that have become insolvent under the laws of another Member State. The Regulations also added a number of existing employment rights-related awards to the Act.

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006. This act came into operation on 24 July 2006 and implements EU Directive 2002/14/EC of the 11 March 2002 and provides for the establishment of a general framework setting out minimum requirements for the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings with at least 50 employees. It introduces a new era of information and consultation in Ireland and marks an important development in the history of Irish industrial relations.

The intention of the Act is to ensure that information and consultation is provided by employers systematically, so that employees are able to acquire an informed understanding of the challenges faced by the business. Timely information and meaningful consultation are prerequisites for the improved adaptability of Irish workplaces, which is vital to meet the challenges created by the globalised economy.

A list of the 36 pieces of occupational safety and health or dangerous substances legislation administered and enforced by the Health and Safety Authority, which were made over the past 7 years and which are currently in force, is set out below. In the context of a response to a Parliamentary Question, it would not be possible to detail all the benefits arising. However, the overall thrust and objective of the legislation is encapsulated in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which I brought into operation in September 2005 which updated, repealed and replaced the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and, together with appropriate Regulations, Codes of Practice and guidance material developed under its ambit, provides a modern legal framework to guarantee best international practice in regard to health and safety in Irish workplaces.

The Act aims at striking an appropriate balance between imposing duties, encouraging better consultation at workplace level on occupational safety and health matters, providing for an improved focus on better prevention systems and practices and the possible application of increased fines and penalties, where warranted.

Legislation List

Occupational Safety and Health

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No. 10 of 2005)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2005 (S.I. No. 328 of 2005)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Work at Height) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 318 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Vibration at Work) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 370 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Noise at Work) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 371 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 386 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 504 of 2006)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Fishing Vessels) Regulations 1999 (S.I. No. 325 of 1999)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Night Work and Shift Work) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 11 of 2000)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Pregnant Employees etc.) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 218 of 2000)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 078 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 188 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 218 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 (Repeal of Section 38 of Factories Act 1955) (Commencement) Order 2001 (S.I. No. 219 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 481 of 2001)

[Note: S.I. No. 481 amended by S.I. No. 277 of 2003 and by S.I. No. 318 of 2006. From 6 November 2006, revoked and replaced by S.I. No. 504 of 2006, other than Regulations 4 and 6 as they apply to a Project Supervisor Design Stage or Project Supervisor Construction Stage appointed under the 2001 Regulations for transitional periods up to 6 May 2008 and 6 May 2009, and Regulations 80 to 82, 84 to 86 and 88 to 123, which remain in place until they are replaced by proposed separate Regulations.]

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 619 of 2001)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 53 of 2003)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 258 of 2003)

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) (Revocation) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 392 of 2005)

Dangerous Substances

Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 860 of 2004)

Other EU and International

European Communities (Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 1999 (S. I. No. 83 of 1999)

European Communities (Safety Advisers for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 6 of 2001)

[Note: From 31 July 2006, these Regulations were revoked and replaced, in so far as they relate to the transport of dangerous goods by road, by the European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road)(ADR Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 406 of 2006) which is shown below.]

European Communities (Classification, Packaging, Labelling and Notification of Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 116 of 2003)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 220 of 2003)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 503 of 2003)

European Communities (Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Preparations) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 62 of 2004)

European Communities (Transportable Pressure Equipment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 374 of 2004)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations)(Marketing and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 852 of 2004)

European Communities (Classification, Packaging, Labelling and Notification of Dangerous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 25 of 2006)

European Communities (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 74 of 2006)

European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations) (Marketing and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 364 of 2006)

European Communities (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) (ADR Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 406 of 2006)

Chemical Weapons (Licensing of Scheduled Toxic Chemicals and Precursors) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 54 of 2001)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act, 1998 (Commencement) Order 2001 (S.I. No. 495 of 2001)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 405 of 2006)

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act 1998 (Appointment of Competent Authorities) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 407 of 2006)

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