As we have now hopefully all shaken off the last of the holiday tiredness and the children are all back to school it is now officially time to get back to work and build on the successes of 2015. While we don’t condone this type of behaviour, none of us can be held responsible for what happens to the last couple of biscuit and chocolate boxes laying around all of our offices and homes this month. Whilst our diets may take a hit, our ability to inform and assist will not so we are back this week with information on a new Bill which has been introduced.


The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 was signed into effect in July of 2015 and actively commenced in August 2015. The amendment of this Act will have several consequences on industrial relations, all of which it is important to be aware of in order for your business to be properly equipped to deal with the main changes in this Act. Here we have collated some of the main changes which can be expected and which might have an effect on your business. Two of the most obvious changes here will be to non-unionised companies.


Registration of Employment Agreements (REA’s).

This Act reintroduces a structure for the above which allows the Labour Court to review and introduce new rates of pay. This may affect your own business as changes to the current minimum wage of €9.15 can be expected.


Trade Disputes.

It is thought that this Act will result in a great deal more trade disputes being referred to the Labour Court which may result in employment terms being laid out by a third party. Prior to this Act, the Labour Court was unable to conduct investigations unless there is a larger number of employees involved in the dispute. There have however been assurances that the Act will not result in Collective Bargaining issues.


There may also be additional changes to issues such as sick pay, pensions, holiday pay etc. which will of course all be dependent on each specific company. We would advise that all business owners read over this new amendment and its coming recommendations in full in order to be best informed.


Full details of the changes and recommendations will be published in the coming weeks but until then it is always wise to have information on any of these changes so that your business can be better prepared for any issues which might arise. Should your company already recognise a union, there are unlikely to be many additional issues arising from this amendment.


Should you have any concerns or queries, as always please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants.


In the wake of the recent and much publicized dispute between Dunnes workers and management, the notion of mandatory union recognition in Ireland has once again be raised. Some have suggested that this could be the answer to this and similar disputes in the future, whilst others have pointed to ways in which this change in employment legislation could have devastating effects for Irish SMEs.

As recently as just this week, SIPTU General Secretary Jack O’Connor walked off the ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ show whilst live on air, demonstrating that this issue remains a hotly contested one. With these recent disputes in mind, this topic could well see itself forming part of the proposed election plan for some parties. As such, it is vital to be informed of what such a change in legislation could mean for you and your business. The implications of mandatory union recognition for employers who do not currently recognise unions could be far reaching.

The trade union movement are naturally already pushing hard for recognition, meaning that this legislation could very well come into place during the next general election. The major issue for businesses in Ireland, particularly SME’s is that no one really knows ahead of time what effect this could have on doing business in Ireland, so should we really be willing to take this risk?

Currently it is a matter for each individual employer to decide if they recognise trade unions in the workplace. At present, employers are under no legal obligationto do so. Many employers – from SMEs to major businesses choose to deal with their employees directly on a contract-to-contract basis and without the involvement of trade unions. Some have felt so strongly about this issue that they have taken to the courts in an effort to avoid mandatory union recognition.

The Irish constitution states only that citizens have the right to form associations and unions, and allows for employers to choose not to recognise these associations. Due to this entry in our constitution, legislation to provide for compulsory trade union recognition has until now been considered to be an unconstitutional notion.

During the much-publicized Ryanair dispute of 2007, Mr. Justice Geoghegan stated that:

“As a matter of law, Ryanair is perfectly entitled not to deal with trade unions nor can a law be passed compelling them to do so. There is an obvious danger however in a non-unionised company that employees may be exploited and may have to submit to what most reasonable people would consider to be grossly unfair terms and conditions of employment.”

This, in a similar manner to the wording of the entry in our constitution is vague, and merely offers both employee and employer the option to choose whether or not to engage with trade unions. Many have recently pointed to this as being the very reason that foreign businesses are so attracted to business in Ireland, the fear being that if we lose this USP, will we also lose their business? It has been widely argued that our current model allows for greater flexibility in dealing with employment disputes.

In 2013, then IBEC director Brendan McGinty stated that: “Mandatory trade union recognition would not create a single job in this economy and would instead threaten many thousands of jobs by damaging our capacity to attract and retain inward investment. Mandatory union recognition would only put off companies that are considering investing in the country and would act as a barrier to job creation.”

This is a topic that is bound to remain controversial and will divide opinions greatly. For SME’s in particular the notion of having to add compulsory trade union recognition to already full basket of responsibilities on a low budget is bound to be threatening.

With a looming general election there will be a barrage of arguments from both sides of this argument, but many remain wary of compulsory union recognition.

If you feel that this might be a damaging move for your own company, we would suggest talking to your local representative about any proposed legislation.