Here's what employers should look out for in 2023

Moira Grassick - Chief Operating Officer

December 20 2022

First published: 20th December 2022
Last updated: 20th December 2022

2022 was a busy year in terms of employment law developments and 2023 looks set to be no different.

In this article, we take a look at some new laws that are coming into effect in January along with a look ahead at what to expect in terms of new legislation this year….

Statutory sick pay scheme comes into effect

The Sick Leave Act 2022 was signed into law in July. From 1 January 2023, employers have a legal obligation to pay up to three days of paid sick leave to any staff who are medically certified as unavailable for work due to illness or injury.

This new sick pay scheme will be rolled out on a phased basis with the amount of statutory sick days increasing to:

  • five days in 2024
  • seven days in 2025, and
  • 10 days in 2026.

Statutory sick pay will be paid at a rate of 70% of the employee’s normal daily earnings subject to a cap of €110 per day.

If your business already provides more favourable sick pay benefits to employees, you will not have to take any action.

New whistleblowing rules come into effect

The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 updates the law on protection for whistleblowers.

More stakeholders now benefit from whistleblowing protection as the new law brings volunteers, job applicants, trainees, shareholders and directors/managers (including non-executive directors) within the definition of ‘worker.’

The definition of ‘penalisation’ has also been widened to include retaliatory actions like denying promotional opportunities, negative assessments, demotion, suspension, blacklisting within an industry and psychiatric referrals.

A key change is the requirement for certain employers to establish internal reporting channels. Employers in Ireland with 250 employees or more must establish internal reporting channels by the 1st January 2023. Employers with more than 50 employees but less than 250 have until 17th December 2023 to establish the required reporting channels.

There are serious criminal sanctions for breaches of the whistleblowing legislation to include fines of up to €250,000 and up to two years in prison.

Work Life Balance Bill and Right to Request Remote Work

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 is expected to be passed into law around the turn of the year. This law will introduce a range of measures to improve family-friendly work practices and support women in the workforce.

In recent weeks, the Government confirmed that the legal right to request remote work will be fast-tracked by incorporating it into the Work Life Balance Bill which is already well advanced.

The Work Life Balance Bill means that employers and employees will now deal with requests for both flexible and remote working under one piece of legislation and one Code of Practice to be developed by the Workplace Relations Commission. The Code of Practice will be established on a statutory footing and is expected to include guidance for both employers and employees on their obligations regarding compliance.

The Government anticipates that this approach will streamline the process and help avoid inconsistencies and confusion.

Clear and predictable employment terms and conditions

The EU Directive on Transparency and Predictability of Working Conditions (the “Directive”) was due to be transposed into Irish law on 2 August 2022. The Directive sets out what employment terms need to be given to employees in writing and time limits for doing so.

Many of the obligations under the Directive are provided for under existing Irish legislation such as the Terms of Employment Information Act 1994 and the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018.

The remaining provisions that have yet to be legislated for in Ireland include:

  • a six-month limit on probationary periods (extensions will be permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as where the nature of the employment (for example, a high-level managerial position) justifies an extension, or where the extension is necessary to make up for a period of employee absence during the probationary period.
  • a prohibition on employers from restricting employees from taking up second jobs outside their work schedule with another employer (exceptions will be permitted for genuine reasons such as protecting confidentiality, preventing conflicts of interests, or complying with health and safety rules).
  • an employee right to request a transfer to more secure and predictable working conditions after six months’ service.
  • an employee right to receive all mandatory training on a cost-free basis.

You will need to review your employment documentation as soon as the Irish law transposing the Directive is passed.

Employment permit system to be modernised in 2023

The Employment Permits Bill 2022 proposes the repeal the Employment Permits Acts 2003 and 2006 and to modernise the Irish employment permit system.

Among the key changes proposed in the draft legislation are:

  • the introduction of a seasonal employment permit for industries that require short-term work commitments and seasonal employment.
  • a review of the Labour Market Needs Test that would simplify the process an employer must complete before recruiting a non-EEA national.
  • employers may have additional conditions attaching to the grant of an employment permit. This aspect of the legislation is designed to increase apprenticeship and training opportunities for the domestic and EEA workforce and help employers reduce their dependence on employment permits.
  • the legislation would also enable subcontractors registered in Ireland to access the employment permit system. As the law stands, only the foreign contractor who was the direct employer could make an application for an employment permit.

The updated legislation should make it easier for Irish employers to recruit non-EEA nationals. It is envisaged that the amending legislation will become law in early 2023.

Is your business prepared for changes in employment law?

With so many changes in employment law, it can be hard for business owners to keep up.

With the help of our employment law experts, we can ensure that your contracts and documentation reflect the latest statutory duties.

For any other employment law questions you have, speak to one of our experts now on 1800 719 216.

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