Statutory responsibility for the management of the National Apprenticeship System in Ireland falls under the remit of SOLAS, an agency under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills.
In general, I understand that in relation to apprentice electricians, the rate of pay is a contractual matter between the employer and the apprentice.
In so far as my Department is concerned, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for a statutory framework for establishing minimum rates of pay as well as other terms and conditions of employment for specified types or classes of workers.
In this context the Labour Court were asked in October 2018 under Section 14 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 to examine the terms and conditions of employment in the Electrical Contracting Sector.
The Court as it is required to do, published its intention to undertake an examination and invited submissions from interested parties. The Labour Court concluded its review and submitted its recommendation to myself on 23 April 2019.
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 requires me, within six weeks of receipt of the Labour Court recommendation, to either accept or reject the recommendation and to make an Order to give legal effect to the terms of the recommendation.
In this instance, as I was satisfied that the Court had complied with its obligations under the 2015 Act I accepted the recommendation on 9 May 2019. The Act requires that a draft of any Order proposed must obtain approval of both House of the Oireachtas before it can be made. A draft of the Order was laid before the Houses on 9 May 2019 as required by Section 17(4) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. When signed, the Order will be effective from the 1st September 2019 and will be binding across the sector and enforceable by the Workplace Relations Commission.
In its recommendation, the Court has set out hourly rates specifically for apprentices in the electrical contracting sector.