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Minister to examine Labour Court Review of the Joint Labour Committees

Minister to examine Labour Court Review of the Joint Labour Committees

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD, today welcomed receipt of the Labour Court Review of the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs).

The Review was undertaken by the Labour Court in line with legislation introduced in 2012 requiring a review of the individual JLCs, with further reviews to be conducted at least every five years. The 2012 legislation, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012, was introduced after the suspension in July 2011 of the operation of the JLCs following a successful constitutional challenge to the Supreme Court.

JLCs provide a wage-setting mechanism that determines terms and conditions of employment, as well as setting minimum rates of pay for workers in certain sectors. In the sectors represented, the terms and conditions are given effect in law by means of Employment Regulation Orders made by the Minister.

The first Review on the JLCs was conducted in 2013 and resulted in the reduction of the number of JLCs from ten to eight.

The Minister noted that since the completion of the first Review in 2013, four Employment Regulation Orders (ERO) have been made covering workers in the security and contract cleaning sectors.

The Minister very much looks forward to completing his examination of the Review within a matter of weeks. He said “While it is extremely encouraging that the economy is in an increasingly strong position with almost full employment, there is no room for complacency and we need to balance Ireland's competitiveness with the need to also protect workers in vulnerable sectors of the economy’’.


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What are JLCs?

JLCs are independent bodies made up of equal numbers of employer and worker representatives appointed by the Labour Court with a chair appointed by the Minister.

Following the first Review of the JLC structures in April 2013 Ministerial Orders were put in place to provide for eight JLCs in the following sectors: agriculture, catering (excluding Dublin city and Dun Laoghaire); catering (Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire), contract cleaning, hairdressing, hotels, retail, grocery and allied trades and, the security industry.

Since the completion of the last Review in 2013, two JLCs (contract cleaning and security) have formulated proposals for Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) which have resulted in the making of four Ministerial Orders giving effect to the terms and conditions of employment governing those sectors.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2012

Significant provisions of the legislation in relation to JLCs are as follows.

  1. It permits Joint Labour Councils (JLCs) to set a basic adult rate and two supplementary minimum rates.
  2. A comprehensive review of the scope of each individual JLC must be undertaken by the Labour Court, every five years, to ensure that the range of establishments to which they apply remains appropriate, with consequent changes to their Establishment Orders if necessary.
  3. Provision exists in the Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) giving effect to the recommendation of the JLC to allow for derogation from the terms of EROs in cases of financial difficulty, while ensuring the protection of employees and avoiding distortion of competition.
  4. Criteria to be observed in the making of any EROs agreed by JLCs will take the form of specific principles and policies. These must include:

the legitimate interests of employers and workers likely to be affected by the proposals, including:

  • the legitimate financial and commercial interests of the employers in the sector in question,
  • the desirability of agreeing and maintaining efficient and sustainable work practices appropriate to the sector in question,
  • the desirability of agreeing and maintaining fair and sustainable minimum rates of remuneration appropriate to the sector in question,
  • the desirability of maintaining harmonious industrial relations,
  • the desirability of maintaining competitiveness, and
  • the levels of employment and unemployment in the sector in question.

The general level of wages in comparable sectors, including, where appropriate, a fair and reasonable assessment of wages in such comparable sectors in other relevant jurisdictions.

The current national minimum hourly rate of pay, under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the appropriateness of fixing a higher statutory minimum hourly rate of pay.

            The terms of any relevant national agreement (if any) in force.

JLC Review

Section 41A of Industrial Relations Act 1946 (inserted by Section 11 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012) provides that reviews of each Joint Labour Committee (JLC) will be carried by the Labour Court, as soon as practicable after the commencement of the Act, and at least once every 5 years thereafter.

This second Review was submitted to the Minister by the Labour Court on 20 April 2018.


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