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In the ever-evolving world of employment law,  staying on top of the latest changes is more than a regulatory necessity – it’s a strategic move for any business in Ireland. With 2024 rolling out significant updates, how crucial do you think it is for business leaders to not only grasp these new provisions but turn them into opportunities for fostering a supportive and compliant workplace? From the intricacies of remote working requests to enforcing transparent pay practices, these legal shifts are key to building an equitable, engaging, and productive workplace. 

Throughout this guide, we aim to navigate you through Ireland’s employment law landscape of 2024, ensuring your business practices remain ahead of the curve.

Recent and Upcoming Changes in Irish Employment Law 

In Ireland, we’re at the forefront of a transformative shift in employment law, characterised by significant legislative reforms. These reforms are reshaping how we approach workplace equity, flexibility, and fairness and reflect changing societal values. 

Recent Changes:

  • The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 has brought about much-needed reforms, including provisions for unpaid leave for medical purposes, extended breastfeeding breaks, and the introduction of paid leave for domestic violence. Such measures are instrumental in supporting employees through critical life events and challenges.
  • The Right to Request Remote Working has officially been enacted, heralding a new era of work where flexibility is not just valued but institutionalised. This aligns with the global shift towards more dynamic and location-independent work arrangements.
  • Flexible Working Arrangements for Carers and Parents has officially been enacted,. These changes acknowledge the dual responsibilities many employees balance and aim to provide them with the necessary support.
  • The transposition of the EU Directive on Minimum Wage into Irish law signals a drive towards a fairer remuneration structure across all sectors, setting a standard that aligns with living costs and supporting economic participation for all.

Upcoming Changes:

  • Anticipation surrounds the Employment (Restriction of Certain Mandatory Retirement Ages) Bill, which proposes to empower individuals with the choice to continue working up to and beyond the state pension age, thereby recognising older workers and their valuable contribution to the workforce.
  • The Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System Bill 2024 has been published. Auto-enrolment will come into effect once this law has been passed and enacted. Auto-enrolment is a new pension savings scheme for certain employees who are not paying into a pension. They will be automatically included in the scheme but can opt out after 6 months.
  • In an effort to close the gender pay gap, the Gender Pay Gap Reporting requirements will be expanded to include employers with more than 150 employees in 2024 and to employers with 50 or more employees in 2025. This will highlight pay disparities and hold companies accountable.
  • It was announced in Budget 2024 that Parent’s Leave and Parent’s Benefit will be extended by 2 weeks to 9 weeks from August 2024.

As the legal and cultural shift gains momentum, Irish businesses find themselves at the heart of a significant transition—setting new benchmarks for fairness and opportunity and leading the way in cultivating a forward-thinking, inclusive, and increasingly just work culture.

More Information on Recent Changes in Irish Employment Law

Let’s take a moment to look at those recent changes in more depth.

Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023

This significant piece of legislation brings multiple updates.

Medical Leave

Employees can now take up to five unpaid days in any 12-month period to provide care or support to a family member or someone residing in the same household with a serious medical condition.

Breastfeeding Breaks

The entitlement to breastfeeding breaks has been extended from 26 weeks to 104 weeks post-childbirth, providing enhanced support for working mothers. These breaks could be one break of 60 minutes, two breaks of 30 minutes each, three breaks of 20 minutes each, or a reduction in working hours without loss of pay by 1 hour each working day. 

Importantly, employers should note that they’re not expected to build a specific room. Instead, it is to provide a suitable space. The recommendation is to put a policy in place so that you can provide clarity for employees.

Domestic Violence Leave

Introduced as of 27 November 2023, this provision grants up to five days of leave in a 12-month period to allow employees to manage the effects of domestic violence. 

The purpose of the leave is to facilitate the employee to:

  • seek medical attention;
  • obtain services from a victim services organisation;
  • obtain psychological or other professional counselling;
  • relocate temporarily or permanently;
  • obtain an order under the Domestic Violence Act 2018;
  • seek advice or assistance from a legal practitioner;
  • seek assistance from the Garda Síochána.

For those liaising with employees requesting leave, it’s crucial to be clear on the scope of your role, which is to support from a work perspective and not to provide advice, which should only be done by a qualified individual. 

It is advisable for HR or management teams to undertake training in this area so that they are equipped and know how to respond appropriately to requests. Again, it is advisable to have a policy in place for domestic violence and a process for availing of it.

Remote Working

The code of practice was published in early March 2024 to enact the right to request remote working for all employees. The requirement is a 6-month service period, and the request must be in writing and supported by documentation. 

Once a request has been made by an employee, the Employer must provide a response within 4 weeks, and the response should outline the arrangement and a commencement/end date for the arrangement. Importantly, employers are obliged to consider all applications on a case-by-case basis and based on the requests’ specific merits. Again, ensuring that you have a policy in place will be of the utmost importance.

Flexible Working for Carers and Parents

The provisions underscore the importance of accommodating employees with caregiving responsibilities and showing empathy for their dual roles. 

The following individuals will be able to apply for flexible working arrangements for caring purposes: 

  • An employee who is or will provide care to a child and that child is under 12 years of age or 16 years of age if the child has a disability or long-term illness; 
  • An employee providing care to a spouse/civil partner, cohabitant, parent or grandparent, sibling or someone who resides in the same household as the employee. 

Again, the employee must have 6 months of service to apply, must put the request in writing, and must provide supporting documentation. Once an employee has made a request, the Employer should respond within 4 weeks. The response should outline the arrangement and a commencement/end date for the arrangement. Having a clear policy will help your HR team and employees be clear on how to apply and how to respond.

Mandatory Retirement Ages

While employers may set a mandatory retirement age, it must be objectively justified by legitimate aims, such as intergenerational fairness or health and safety concerns. An awaited Supreme Court decision in Mallon v Minister for Justice will potentially impact the interpretation of these justifications where Seamus Mallon has challenged county sheriffs’ statutory retirement age of 70. 

The Supreme Court will decide whether objective justifications for a mandatory retirement age should be considered in the context of each individual employee or whether they can be assessed by reference to defined groups based on general probabilities of age, health, and competence. 

The government’s legislative programme for Spring 2024 also confirms that the government is currently preparing heads of bill for the Employment (Restriction of Certain Mandatory Retirement Ages) Bill (the Bill). The Bill will seek to introduce measures that allow but do not compel, an employee to stay in employment until the state pension age.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The gender pay gap reporting continues with employers of 250+ employees completing their second round and those with 150+ employees due to report in 2024. Companies must select a snapshot date in June 2024 to calculate and report their gender pay gap data by December 2024.

Minimum Wage Adjustments

The increase in the minimum wage to €12.70, effective 1 January 2024, indicates a forward-moving economy that seeks to uplift the living standards for all workers, especially those starting their careers. Inexperienced workers such as work experience workers are also now entitled to: 

  • Under 18 – €8.89
  • Age 18- €10.16
  • Age 19 – €11.43

On-the-Spot Fines for Employment Law Offences

Keeping on top of employment law just got more concrete, with new regulations that consolidate fixed payment notices for breaches of employment law, such as failing to consult in redundancy situations or not providing terms of employment in a timely and accurate manner. 

What’s more, fixed payment notices have been introduced to act as a tangible deterrent for employment law violations, ensuring businesses adhere strictly to best practices in redundancy processes, contractual obligations, and fair handling of wages, including tips and gratuities under the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022.  Some of these fines include:

  • €2,000 – if the employer fails in a collective redundancy situation to consult with employees’ representatives and to provide them with mandatory specified information. Section 11, Protection of Employment Act 1977.
  • €1,500 – if the employer fails, without reasonable cause, to provide an employee with their terms of employment within one month of their commencement date or provides false or misleading information to the employee. 
  • €750 – in instances where the employer does not provide employees with a written statement on the distribution of tips and gratuities or fails to treat a service charge as a tip.
  • €500 – if the employer does not display a ‘tips and gratuities notice’ or a ‘Contract Workers Tips and Gratuities Notice’.

A word to the wise: be sure to have a policy in place displaying clearly and transparently how cash tips, card tips, gratuities, and service charges are distributed.

Immigration Reforms

Changes effective since January 2024 include new conditions for General Employment Permits and increased salary thresholds for certain permits. These changes are set to streamline the employment permit system, simplify the process for non-EEA workers, and benefit both the workers and the Irish economy.

The Code of Practice on Determining Employment Status

In light of the Supreme Court judgment in Revenue Commissioners v Karshan (Domino’s Pizza), updates to the Code of Practice are expected to reflect the pivotal decision of this case which set a precedent by affirming that delivery drivers are employees. 

This important case reinforces the essential nature of contractual clarity, compelling businesses to issue basic terms within five days and a full contract within a month. This ultimately protects worker rights and clarifies employment status.

Probation and Performance Management

The EU (Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions) Regulations 2022 stipulate a maximum probation period of 6 months, which can be extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances that benefit the employee.

Sick Leave Act 2022

Entitlement to statutory sick pay has increased from three to five days per year as of 2024. This aligns with the government’s commitment to gradually increase the entitlement until 2026, when it will reach ten days. Employees must have: 

  • 13 weeks of continuous service, 
  • produce a valid medical certificate from the first day of absence.

Employers must:

  • Pay @ 70% of an employee’s normal wage (subject to a maximum of €110 per day),
  • retain sick leave records for 4 years.

An employer is only exempt if authorised by the Labour Court or where a more favourable scheme is provided.

Auto-Enrolment Pension

A phased introduction of an occupational pension scheme/auto-enrolment is anticipated, where contributions will be matched by the employer, the employee, and the government. Employer contributions to the pension are tax-deductible. To be eligible, employees must earn at least €20,000 annually and be aged between 23 and 60.  The employee must not be enrolled in another scheme.

By proactively adapting to these changes, organisations can uphold legal standards, support employee welfare, and promote a culture of equality, fairness and respect within the workplace. Isn’t that a place where we’d all want to work?

More Details on Upcoming Revisions in Irish Employment Law

Let’s discuss what’s happening in Ireland’s employment scene. We’ve got some big changes coming up that really show how Ireland is serious about making work fairer for everyone. These changes reflect a deepening commitment to equality and transparency, as well as a modern approach to retirement that collectively caters to the diverse needs of a contemporary workforce, adding to Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness as a work location.

Employment (Restriction of Certain Mandatory Retirement Ages) Bill: 

This upcoming bill demonstrates a progressive stance towards age in the workplace. It aims to empower employees with the choice to continue working up to the state pension age. 

This change acknowledges the value of older workers and challenges the traditional norms around retirement. By not enforcing a compulsory retirement age, the bill would allow for greater workforce flexibility and tap into the wealth of experience that senior employees offer.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting:

By expanding gender pay gap reporting to include companies with 150+ employees, Ireland is reinforcing its efforts to ensure gender equality in the workplace. This increased scope underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in addressing pay disparities. 

By mandating that a broader range of businesses report on this crucial metric, Ireland is intensifying its pursuit to bridge the gender pay gap, fostering an environment where equal work yields equal pay.

Potential Transposition of the EU Directive on Minimum Wage into Irish Law: 

The potential incorporation of the EU Directive on Minimum Wage reflects a commitment to ensuring that all workers receive a fair wage. 

It is a move that would standardise the understanding of what constitutes a minimum living wage, adjust wages in line with the cost of living, and safeguard the right to a wage that meets workers’ basic needs. The directive would not only raise the standard of living for lower-income workers but would also reinforce the principle that the dignity of work is respected and adequately compensated. 

Parent’s Leave and Parent’s Benefit Updates

Parent’s Benefit is paid while you are on parent’s leave from work if that parent has enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions. Both parents are entitled to Parent’s Benefit during parent’s leave.

Back in July 2022, Parent’s Benefit increased from 5 weeks to 7 weeks for the parent’s of:

  • A child born or adopted after 1 July 2022
  • A child under the age of 2 on 1 July 2022 or an adopted child placed with your family less than 2 years on 1 July 2022 – you must complete the extra parent’s leave on or before your child’s second birthday or within 2 years of the adoption placement

It was announced in Budget 2024 that Parent’s leave and Parent’s Benefit will be extended again – this time from 7 weeks to 9 weeks from August 2024.

Opportunities and Challenges

Navigating the twists and turns of employment law can be quite the journey for businesses and their teams. Take the Work Life Balance Bill—it’s a game-changer. It’s setting up new standards for employers, but it’s really about giving workers the rights they deserve. This move puts a spotlight on the balance we’re all striving for between our jobs and our personal lives. And you know what? It’s showing the world that Ireland’s got its eye on the future, making it an even better spot to work and call home.

As we embrace these changes, it’s wise for companies to do some homework—checking over policies, getting the whole team up to speed, and tweaking how we do things to stay in step with these fresh legal must-dos. It’s about more than just sticking to the rules; it’s about playing our part in creating a better working world for everyone.

As a quick reference, the company’s obligations regarding policies are to:

  1. have a policy,
  2. communicate the policy to staff and to ensure that staff are aware of its contents,
  3. implement protective measures, e.g. training,
  4. and act on issues as they arise in line with the policy.

Future-Proofing Workplaces: Embrace Change with The HR Suite

We’re turning a new page in Irish employment law, and for businesses, it’s time to sit up and pay attention to the big shifts ahead. Imagine being able to choose when to retire, or watching the gender pay gap get the spotlight it deserves, or even seeing the EU Directive on Minimum Wage take root right here at home. It’s all pointing us towards a work culture that’s fair, open, and treats everyone with respect.

But to make the most of this, we’ve got to be on the ball—getting our heads around what’s changing, thinking about what it means in our business, and tweaking how we run things. Moreover, seeking expert legal advice and engaging in thorough training for your HR and management teams can make this transition significantly more seamless.

If you’re looking for someone to lead the way, The HR Suite’s got your back. We can ensure your business isn’t just ticking the compliance box but is genuinely ahead of the game. With our expertise in Human Resources and Employment Law, consider us your go-to for personalised consultancy and training that steers you through these changes with confidence. Get in touch today.


Caroline Reidy is the Managing Director of The HR Suite and a HR and Employment Law Expert. Caroline is a former member of the Low Pay Commission and is also an adjudicator in the Work Place Relations Commission. Top trainer and presenter, keynote speaker, expert investigator, mediator, WRC Adjudication Officer and owner of The HR Suite. She has also completed a Masters in Human Resources in the University of Limerick, she is CIPD accredited as well as being a trained mediator. Caroline had worked across various areas of HR for over 20 years in Kerry Group and in the retail and hospitality sector where she was the Operations and HR Director of the Garvey Group prior to setting up The HR Suite in 2009.