A Judgment of the High Court on Thursday 7th July 2011 means that all of the seventeen Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) ceased to have statutory effect from that date and cannot be enforced.
It has been declared that the relevant provisions of the 1946 and 1990 Industrial Relations Acts are unconstitutional because they allowed for an impermissible excessive delegation of law-making power concerning pay and conditions to the Labour Court in the absence of any guiding policies or principles.
Employers are not obliged to comply with any ERO when offering terms and conditions to new employees as of the 08th July 2011. However, employers must pay their employees in accordance with existing employment legislation such as the National Minimum Wage Act.
Please note that this court ruling has no direct effect on the wages and terms and Conditions of existing employees. An employer may not reduce the current wages unless they have written agreement from the employee.
Where prosecutions for non-compliance with an ERO have been commenced these will have to be withdrawn. No further prosecutions can be initiated in relation to compliance with EROs that were in place prior to 7th July 2011. NERA also informed us that any ongoing inspection that commenced prior to the decision will no longer consider the applicability of ERO rates.
Subsequent to the ruling the Department of Enterprise examined two possibilities: enacting emergency legislation to provide temporary protection for workers pending enactment of comprehensive reforms, and appealing the judgment that would likely have the result of providing a stay on its effects.
As a result of these consultations, it was made clear that neither option is viable.
Minister Bruton has informed us that legislation will be introduced to the Dáil very early in the next term with prioritised enactment thereafter.