My Department is responsible for the legislation underpinning the social welfare code, occupational and private pensions, civil registration and gender recognition, redundancy and employer’s insolvency, employment rights and the Citizens Information Board/Comhairle.
Since May 2016, five Acts relating to areas within my Department's remit have been enacted. These are:
(1) Social Welfare Act 2016 (No. 15 of 2016)
(2) Social Welfare Act 2017 (No. 38 of 2017)
(3) Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 (No. 37 of 2018)
(4) Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 (No. 38 of 2018)
(5) Civil Registration Act 2019 (No. 13 of 2019)
The only one of the these Acts which has an impact on small and medium enterprises is the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018. The Deputy will be aware that this is an important piece of legislation which is designed, in particular, to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and for those working variable hours.
While the Act necessarily introduced changes which required changes of practice for employers, every effort was made to strike the appropriate balance between the need to strengthen employment rights to the benefit of employees on one hand and the need to avoid imposing unnecessarily onerous burdens on employers on the other.
To this end, an extensive consultation process was undertaken, including detailed dialogue with IBEC amongst others, before the measures contained in the Act were finalised. Consequently, the measures involved will have a limited impact for employers in terms of the administrative costs of compliance with additional regulatory requirements. Moreover, that impact is also minimised by the counter-balancing measures provided for by way of exceptions in certain circumstances and reasonable defences for employers.