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Mary Blyth
Agency Workers Directive
by Mary Blyth

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, published the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 on Friday 16th December 2011. The bill was due to be transposed into Irish Law by 5th December 2011.  It would normally be assumed that there is no obligation to implement the terms of the directive until national legislation is enacted.  However, the Minister has stated that the requirements of the directive will have a retrospective effect to 5th December, meaning that its provision will apply to all employers from that date.

The main provisions of the bill are – All temporary agency workers are entitled to equal treatment in terms of pay and basic working conditions as if they were directly recruited by the hirer to the same job

An agency worker is a person who has an agreement with an agency to work for another person. For example, a secretary may have an agreement with a secretarial agency to do work for an office while one of their employees is on leave.

Basic working conditions will include working time, rest periods, rest breaks, night work, annual leave, public holidays, and access to collective facilities.

Pay is defined as including only basic pay, shift premium, piece rates, overtime premium, unsocial hours premium and Sunday premium (where a Sunday is worked and a premium is normally paid to a directly recruited employee). Pay therefore will not include matters such as occupational pension schemes, financial participation schemes, sick pay schemes, benefit in kind or bonus payments.

The Minister had sought a derogation to allow for a qualifying period to be in place before entitlement to equal treatment is applied.  However, the Social Partners have not agreed to this so the current situation is that equal treatment will apply from day one. 

The Bill is due to be enacted into legislation as early as possible in the new Dáil term.  While there is certainly a possibility that changes will be made to it before it becomes law, employers should plan for an imminent implementation date, making provision for the retrospective nature of the entitlements.

If you require any advice on the above please feel free to contact me on 021 4310266.

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