The Labour Court makes an Employment Regulation Order (ERO) confirming proposals submitted to it by a Joint Labour Committee (JLC). JLCs are composed of an equal number of trade union and employer representatives as well as an independent chairperson who is appointed by the Labour Court. This Order is legally binding – that is, it is set down in law. It is the JLC that agrees the rates of pay and working for the workers in the JLC’s sector of employment. The Employment Regulation Order made by the Labour Court therefore makes the JLC agreement enforceable by law. As of July 2011, there were 17 active EROs implemented through the Labour Court.
It is important to note, however, that EROs were rendered unconstitutional in July 2011. This meant that if a new employee was taken on or after the ERO was rendered unconstitutional then the employer was not obliged to apply ERO terms and conditions to them. Since then, the Government has conducted a substantial review and overhaul of the JLC/ERO system and new legislation around EROs has been enacted as of August 2012. The new legislation was introduced with a view to curing any perceived constitutional defects that existed and we can expect to see the specifics of each agreement early in 2013. Once this occurs, the EROs will once again be valid in their revised form and will apply to all employers that fall within their remit.