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Employee protection act in Ireland

Ireland has established various legislation to promote fair treatment, safety, and equality in the workplace. From the Employee Protection Act to the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act, these laws are designed to ensure employees are provided certain rights, such as entitlement to a minimum wage, protection against unfair dismissal, and provisions for rest and breaks.

In this guide, we’ll explore some employment legislation in Ireland covering data privacy, equal treatment for agency workers, whistleblowing, and more to help your company establish legal standards to protect your workforce and organisation.

Whistleblower protection in Ireland

The whistleblower protection in Ireland is governed by the Protection Disclosures Act 2014 (the Act), which was updated by the Protected Disclosure (Amendment) Act 2022. These laws protect individuals who have the courage to report wrongdoing or illegal activities in the workplace.

This whistleblowing law in Ireland was further strengthened by the transposition of the EU Whistleblowing Directive into Ireland’s law through the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022. The legislation protects employees who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing and are protected from detrimental treatment and retaliation.

The Act defines a wide range of protected disclosures and assigns responsibilities to employers to establish internal procedures for handling such disclosures. This framework ensures that whistleblowers can come forward with information without fear of reprisal and establishes mechanisms for investigation to address the reported wrongdoing.

The Protected Disclosure Act provides various legal protections for whistleblowers, including:

  • Anonymity
  • Protection against unfair dismissal
  • Access to legal remedies

Employee data protection policy in Ireland

Data privacy

Ireland is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Employers in Ireland must ensure that they have GDPR-compliant documentation and that they are able to deal with the new rules on access requests. The GDPR places significant obligations and hefty sanctions on employers. There are still significant restrictions on monitoring employees, including email and internet use.

In addition, the GDPR sets out specific requirements for employers’ processing and handling of employee data in order to protect the privacy and rights of employees. Employers in Ireland must obtain adequate consent from employees before processing any personal data, and this consent must be freely given, informed, and specific to the purpose of processing. Employers must also ensure they have appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to protect against unauthorised access, disclosure, or loss of employee data.

On the employee side, they have the right to access, rectify, or erase any data related to them, and employers must comply with requests made in this regard. Employers must comply with such requests, thereby ensuring that employees maintain control over the use of their personal data and can exercise their privacy rights.

Equal treatment for temporary agency workers in Ireland

In Ireland, the entitlement of temporary agency workers to earn the same as permanent workers was significantly influenced by the European Union’s Directive on Temporary Agency Work (Directive 2008/104/EC). This directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in November 2008, and it aimed to ensure the protection of temporary agency workers and to apply the principle of equal treatment.

Ireland transposed this directive into national law with the enactment of the “Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012.” This act came into effect on May 16, 2012. It ensures that temporary agency workers receive equal treatment to permanent workers in terms of basic working and employment conditions, including pay, from their first day of employment.

Temporary agency workers are also entitled to receive information about permanent employment opportunities available to them with the hiring company. Additionally, the act obliges temporary work agencies to provide temporary workers with written information about their employment arrangements and conditions before starting work.

Ireland anti-discrimination laws

Anti-Discrimination law in Ireland

Anti-discrimination policy in Ireland is primarily governed by the Employment Equality Acts. These acts cover employees of all types, from part-time, temporary, to full-time. It also extends to agency workers, self-employed people, partners in partnerships, and state and local authority officeholders. The Employment Equality Acts prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee or prospective employee in relation to access to employment (i.e., the recruitment process), conditions of employment, training, promotion, classification of jobs, and dismissal.

In addition, these acts make it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the grounds of nine protected characteristics:

  • Gender
  • Civil status
  • Family status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Membership of the Traveller community.

Protection against harassment in Ireland

According to the Employment Equality Acts, harassment refers to any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the nine protected grounds, which has the purpose or effect to undermine someone’s dignity and create a hostile, intimidating, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that individual. Harassment may constitute many forms of behaviour, such as gestures, spoken words, or the display/circulation of words, pictures, or other material.

The provisions of the Employment Equality Acts also offer protection even in cases where the employee may not possess relevant characteristics linked to the discriminatory ground, but the perpetrator believes that he/she has the characteristic and harasses on that basis. Employers in Ireland must create a safe work environment, establish clear policies in place, and take appropriate measures to prevent and address harassment in the workplace.

Pay equity laws in Ireland

In Ireland, pay equity law is grounded in both national and European Union (EU) legislation. The Employment Equality Acts prohibit direct and indirect pay discrimination based on any of the nine protected grounds. This means that employers in Ireland are required to provide equal pay for equal work, regardless of factors such as race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.

Indirect pay discrimination can be supported by reasonable justification, which is the opposite with the direct discrimination. To succeed with an equal pay claim, the complainant must identify an actual comparator employed by the same or an associated employer who does ‘like work’ but is treated differently (e.g., paid a higher salary) on the basis of discriminatory ground. There are various grounds for defending unequal pay. For example, an employer must be able to demonstrate that pay differences between employees are not motivated by discriminatory practices, but by other valid non-discriminatory factors.

Pay equity vs. pay

In Ireland, pay equity and pay equality are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two terms. Pay equality means providing equal pay for equal work, regardless of a person’s gender, race, age, or other protected characteristic. Pay equity, on the other hand, refers to the concept of fairness in pay, which may involve analysing and correcting pay disparities that are not necessarily the result of intentional discrimination.

Pay equity in Ireland is addressed through national and EU legislation, including the Employment Equality Acts and the Gender Pay Gap Information Act. These laws prohibit direct and indirect pay discrimination and require employers to provide transparency in pay differences between male and female employees.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act requires companies to report differences in the mean and median pay between male and female employees, with initial implementation on companies with 250 or more employees and subsequent expansion to companies with 150 or more employees by 2024 and companies with 50 or more employees by 2025. This reporting requirement promotes transparency and increases awareness of gender-based pay disparities, enabling companies to take proactive steps to close the gap.

Compliantly hire talent in Ireland with CXC

As you expand your business globally, it’s essential to ensure your hiring process is fully compliant and fair to all potential candidates. While hiring in Ireland can be overwhelming, we provide guidance on the Employment Equality Acts and other relevant regulations to help you make informed decisions.

At CXC, our team of compliance experts has in-depth knowledge of various in-country specific laws and regulations to help you compliantly hire talent anywhere with confidence. Get in touch with us today and start growing your workforce with ease.

Compliantly hire workers anywhere with CXC

With our EoR solution, you can engage workers anywhere in the world, without putting your business at risk. No more worrying about local labour laws, tax legislation or payroll customs — we’ve got you covered.

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