Changes in employment law in 2024

Nóra Cashe

March 20 2024

Published: March 20th 2024

From pension to minimum wage, from sick pay to remote work: 2024 is set to be a year of continued developments in employment law.

With all the ongoing updates, it can be hard for employers to keep up with the changing landscape.

Yet, knowing the ins and outs of what’s coming is crucial to interacting with your employees and to protecting your business.

So, what’s changed? And how will it affect you, your employees, and your company?

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023

Comprised of five new statutory acts, The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 started coming into effect last year.

The final two parts of the Act - the right to request remote working and the right to request flexible working (parents and carers) - came into effect in March 2024 along with the release of the relevant Code of Practice.

The employer is now obliged to consider all requests to work remotely or flexibly, as well as the employees’ circumstances and rationale for these requests. Then, they will be expected to weigh them against their business needs.

While the employer is not under any obligation to grant any requests, they must respond, in writing, within four weeks.

If they choose to refuse a request, they must outline any reason for their decision. Failure to do so could result in a complaint to the WRC.

The new workplace pension scheme

The Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System, also called Auto-Enrolment (AE), is a new retirement saving system for employees set to be introduced in the second half of 2024.

The system, which was announced in 2022, was designed to close the pension gap in Ireland. It’s estimated that approximately 750,000 workers will be enrolled in the new workplace pension scheme. Participation will be voluntary, and employees will have the ability to opt out.

Within this system, matching contributions are to be made by employers, as well as contribution ‘top-ups’ by the State.

For instance, for every €3 saved by a worker, a further €4 will be credited to their pension savings account.

The increase in National Minimum Wage

As of 1st January 2024, the National Minimum Wage has increased by €1.40 per hour. Different age ranges will receive different wages, and they are affected as follows:

  • Age 20 and over: increase from €11.30 to €12.70 per hour
  • Age 19: increase from €10.70 to €11.43 per hour (90% of minimum wage)
  • Age 18: increase from €9.04 to €10.16 per hour (80% of minimum wage)
  • Age under 18: increase from €7.91 to €8.89 per hour (70% of minimum wage)

It should be noted that, if an employee works on a Sunday at minimum wage, employers should review the appropriate rates of pay.

The increase in parent’s leave

Parent’s leave—not to be confused with parental leave—is a type of leave accessible to employees that are considered a ‘relevant parent’.

In Budget 2024, it was announced that parent’s leave would be extended by two weeks, totalling nine weeks altogether. Employers can expect this increase to take effect in August 2024.

There is no minimum service requirement for an employee to qualify for this leave, which can be taken consecutively or separately. However, it is to be taken during the first two years of the child’s birth or adoption (with some date limitations in place).

As to whether this is paid leave, it is at the employer’s discretion. Overall, as an employer, you are under no obligation to pay employees that avail of parent’s leave, and they may in fact qualify for Parent’s Benefit (depending on their PRSI contributions).

The widening of Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 requires companies of a certain size to publish a yearly report on their company’s gender pay gap (GPG). Since its implementation in 2022, its reach has been broadened to include smaller companies with fewer employees.

Indeed, in 2024, it will extend to companies with 150 or more employees. Then, from 2025 onwards, it will affect those with 50 or more employees.

The increase in statutory sick pay days

Employers may remember that, in January 2023, the Statutory Sick Pay scheme was introduced for all employees in Ireland. On 1st January 2024, the statutory sick leave entitlement increased from 3 to 5 days for the 2024 calendar year.

Both part-time and full-time employees can avail of the scheme, though to do so, they must have completed the 13 weeks’ service requirement for the employer.

Further, any unused sick leave expires at the end of the calendar year, and the rate of pay (70% of gross daily pay, capped at €110 a day) is calculated depending on the average earnings of each individual employee.

The situation will continue to evolve, as the number of days provided under the scheme is set to increase in 2025 to 7 days, and again in 2026 to 10 days.

The use of AI at work

In 2023, employers in Ireland said they hesitated to implement the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their workplaces, according to a Peninsula Group survey. The main concerns they cited were regarding security risks, margin of error, work quality, and more.

Still, AI was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2023, showing the potential to use AI-based technology for security, automation, and efficiency. This year, AI policy in the workplace will also be a focus in the Health and Safety Authority (HSA)’s 2024 Programme of Work.

In turn, judicious employers may want to ensure that, if they’re using AI, they’re doing so in line with current legislation. It may be also time to consider how AI might affect company redundancy policies.

For this, it’s never too early to implement an AI Policy. By doing so, an employer can factor in protection against additional issues, such as risks regards intellectual property, confidential client/employee information, and even business reputation.

Want to learn more?

Are you unsure about how changes that have come into legislation (as well as changes that are still down the line) will impact your business in 2024?

Here at Peninsula, we’re here to help.

Peninsula’s seasoned employment law and health & safety professionals are just a phone call away, to answer your queries, for free.

Contact us on 1800 719 216 and book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants today.

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