News & Events

New era for employment rights and industrial relations takes effect today – Minister Bruton, Minister Nash

Improved service and reduced cost for every employer and employee in the State with establishment of new ‘5-Agencies-into-2’ Workplace Relations Commission

New sectoral wage agreements bring certainty for employers and improved pay for 50,000 workers

The Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton TD and the Minister of State for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD today announced a new era for employment rights and industrial relations, as two major changes take effect today to provide certainty and improve services, pay and conditions for thousands of employers and employees across the country.

Firstly, the reinstatement of Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) for the security and for the contract cleaning industries brings improved rates of pay for workers in these sectors, with new basic hourly rates of €10.75 and €9.75 respectively. The Orders, which take effect today, also set enhanced rates for overtime and other improved terms and conditions for workers.

Following their striking down by the High Court, Minister Bruton and subsequently following his appointment Minister Nash spearheaded reform of this area to reinstate the protection previously provided to workers by Employment Regulation Orders. The new rules and enhanced conditions taking effect today for the contract cleaning and security industry mark a major step on this road, as part a new flexible system more responsive to changing conditions in the economy. 

Secondly, the five bodies previously responsible for disputes in the workplace are merged into two, to provide a better service at less cost to the State, employers and employees. When completely bedded in the reforms will result in 20% reduction in staff and 10% reduction in budgets. This represents the biggest reforms to the State’s employment rights and industrial relations machinery in 70 years.

As a result of these reforms:

  • The delay for Equality cases has been halved in a three-month period this year
  • The backlog for Rights Commissioners hearings has been reduced from over 20 weeks to an average of 8 weeks now
  • Complaints are acknowledged within a matter of days. Before these reforms it took an average of 8 months
  • The Workplace Relations Commission will reduce waiting times with a target of three months from the time of complaint to hearing
  • Employers are notified, on average, within 10 working days of the complaint being lodged, thus increasing the possibility of a resolution being reached without the need for any hearing
  • There are now a total of two e-forms to be used – one for the first complaint, one for appeals – replacing the 44 paper forms that existed previously
  • A series of measures have made the process less legalistic and to encourage early resolution
  • Appointments are more transparent, with all adjudicators and decision-makers appointed by public competition through the PAS
  • The previous practice bringing cases related to the same incident to multiple for a has ended

Speaking today, Minister Bruton said: “If we are to deliver full employment in the coming years, we must have modern, flexible workplace relations institutions providing world-class services at low cost to employers and employees. The system that was in place to resolve workplace disputes in 2011, which had grown up in a haphazard way over years, was far from that – characterised by forum-shopping, overlapping claims, delays, and a high degree of formality that often worked against early and easy reolution of claims.

“Reform is never easy – and we have faced many difficulties along this road. However the system that has emerged clearly fits the ambition we set for these reforms back in 2011. We are merging 5 bodies into two. We are delivering a less legalistic service which encourages early resolution of disputes. We are slashing delays and simplifying processes. And we are delivering a new system which will use 20% less staff and 10% less money, freeing those resources up for other needs.

“I wish to pay tribute to the huge number of people who played a role in delivering this project, which was implemented internally and not by using external consultants – staff in my Department and in the 5 bodies concerned have played a particularly important role, as have external stakeholders including unions and employer groups who have provided valuable feedback and support at all stages”.

Minister Nash said: “I am very pleased to have signed the new Employment Regulation Orders for the Security and Contract Cleaning sectors.  From today, some 20,000 security industry staff will see their pay increase from €10.01 to €10.75 per hour and 30,000 contract cleaners will see their hourly pay increase to €9.75.  They will also see their terms and conditions improve and employers now have certainty on their costs and industrial peace.”

“It is fitting that these new EROs or sectoral wage agreements come into effect on the first day of the Workplace Relations Commission who will be tasked with promoting harmonious industrial relations and resolving disputes.  Importantly, the new WRC and expanded Labour Court should mean a simpler, faster and user-friendly experience for all its clients.” 

The Director General of the Workplace Relation Commission, Kieran Mulvey with twenty-five years’ experience at the helm of the Labour Relations Commission, said “I look forward to the challenge of ensuring the WRC delivers on its ambition to offer comprehensive solutions across a broad range of workplace disputes, while simplifying the process for employers and employees alike.”

The Chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy commented that, “An expanded Labour Court will play a key role in these workplace reforms, ensuring appeals are dealt with promptly and reducing referrals to higher courts. I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition under the new framework.”

The Workplace Relations Commission starts receiving cases from today. 


For General information contact:

Workplace Relations Commission , 1890 80 80 90 or 059 9178990

For Press queries contact:

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Press Office, 631 2200 or 


S.I. No 417 of 2015 Employment Regulation Order (Security Industry Joint Labour Committee) 2015

S.I. No 418 of 2015 Employment Regulation Order (Contract Cleaning Joint Labour Committee) 2015


A two-tier Employment Rights and Industrial Relations structure is now in place. This means there are two statutorily independent bodies i.e. a single body of first instance   called the Workplace Relations Commission and a separate appeals body, which is effectively an expanded Labour Court.

The Workplace Relations Act, 2015 provides the necessary legislative basis for the new structures and associated processes.

The legislation provides for the services of the Equality Tribunal, NERA, the LRC and the first instance functions of the EAT to come together under the remit of the Workplace Relations Commission. The appellate functions of the EAT are amalgamated into a reconfigured Labour Court.

All first instance or initial complaints will be made to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Three options for resolving complaints will be available - early resolution, inspection and adjudication. The Workplace Relations Commission will have a greater capacity to determine which of these interventions by the State is the most appropriate and most cost-effective in any given case.

Considerable savings, both in time and in costs, will be made through the use of new IT systems which will maximise the availability of Adjudication Officers and mediators through efficient scheduling and case management.

Director General of WRC:

Mr. Kieran Mulvey is the Director General of the WRC.

WRC Board

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., has today announced the Board of the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Board will comprise nine members and will be chaired by Pfizer Global Supply Vice President, Dr Paul Duffy.

The other members of the Board are:

Ms Deidre O Brien, Human Resources Manager, Celestica Ltd,

Ms Maeve Mc Elwee, Head of Industrial Relations and Human Resources, Ibec

Mr Liam Berney, ICTU

Mr Shay Cody, General Secretary, IMPACT

Ms Geraldine Hynes, Consultant in Workplace Dispute Resolution

Ms Audrey Cahill, Human Resources Manager, Keelings Distribution

Mr Richard Devereux, European Labour Law Counsel, Intel Corporation

Dr Michelle O’ Sullivan, Lecturer, Industrial Relations, University of Limerick

Dr Paul Duffy has recently been appointed to the position of Vice President of Pfizer Global Supply, Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Operations & External Supply Operating Unit.  

Prior to this, Dr Duffy was Vice President of the External Supply Operating Unit, with responsibility for global contract manufacturing, business development, and Pfizer CentreSource (contract manufacturing and supply to 3rd party customers).

Dr Duffy joined Pfizer Global Supply in 1991 as Manufacturing Manager of Little Island/Loughbeg, and was subsequently appointed Supply Chain Director, Ireland (1997); Site Leader, Little Island (1999); Director/Team Leader, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Manufacturing, Ringaskiddy (2002); and, Site Leader, Ringaskiddy (2003). 

In 2008 Dr Duffy was appointed Vice President, Operations, Primary Care and Oncology.    

Dr Duffy currently sits on the board of the IDA. In 2009 he was President of the American Chamber of Commerce and over the years has also served on the Boards of the Cork Chamber of Commerce and Co-Operation Ireland.  

He holds a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University College Galway and an M.B.A. from the Open University in the U.K. 

In addition, the selection process for two new Labour Court Deputy Chairman positions, recently filled by Mr Kevin Foley and Mr Alan Haugh was completed through the Public Appointments Service and Mr. Gavin Marie and Ms. Louise O’Donnell have been selected to be appointed as Ordinary Members of the Labour Court. This will facilitate the expansion of the Labour Court as the appellate court of the WRC ensuring appeals are heard in a timely manner.

A single point of contact - – was established early in the reform process to ensure ease of access to information and complaint procedures. This portal will be enhanced to enable users to avail of all WRC services through this single point of access.

The e-Complaint facility allows users to file all the relevant information in a single form, while a decisions database provide a single source of information for stakeholders and service users.

19 Adjudicators have been selected through a Public Appointments Service open competition and trained to a high standard at the National College of Ireland and through ancillary training programmes. They will complement the existing number of Rights Commissioners and Equality Officers and are already working to reduce existing backlogs in the Equality Tribunal.

This new adjudication process simplifies previous processes, making it more user-friendly and reducing any excessively legalistic features of previous bodies.

In addition, as far back as May 2012, the Early Resolution Service was established on a pilot basis to ensure that complaints and disputes are dealt with as close to the workplace as possible and prior to costly intervention. This will form part of a unified mediation offering from the WRC.

The Workplace Relations Act 2015, signed by the President in May of this year, substantially amended the primary employment and industrial relations legislation, providing the legal basis for the WRC and its simplified, more accessible processes

The Act enables the WRC to undertake a full range of functions formerly carried out by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), including the Rights Commissioner Service, the Equality Tribunal, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA).

The Workplace Relations Act also provides for the Labour Court to be the appellate body to determine, among other matters, appeals against decisions of WRC Adjudication Officers.

Complaints and appeals submitted to the EAT before the commencement date will be disposed of by the EAT. The EAT will continue with the important work of finalising all complaints and appeals referred to it before the commencement date and will then be dissolved.

The incorporation of the role of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) will ensure continued protection and enforcement of employment rights. Under the WRC there will be a more effective and streamlined system to enforce awards from WRC Adjudicators and/or the Labour Court through the District Court.

Non-compliance with an order of the District Court to enforce a decision of the WRC or Labour Court under employment rights legislation will now be an offence. In addition there is now a statutory basis for the use of innovative measures such as Compliance Notices and Fixed Charge Notices.

There is now greater clarity for employers through a standardised statement of the powers of inspectors under employment & equality legislation and the standardisation of certain procedural matters across the suite of employment rights/employment equality legislation. 

The Necessity for Reform

Previously, the system for resolving individual workplace disputes was inefficient, in terms of time and resources for both employers and employees. Some of the criticisms of that system included:

  • Five organisations with overlapping but entirely separate objectives and logistics;
  • A level of complexity that even experienced practitioners found it difficult to navigate the system given the byzantine legislative provisions;
  • A lack of consistency regarding the degree of formality of hearings, rules of evidence and the use of adversarial or inquisitorial procedures;
  • An overly legalistic approach with many users incurring significant legal costs;
  • A single set of circumstances could giving rise to a number of claims processed through different fora;
  • Different routes of appeal arising out of the same set of circumstances in the same employment;
  • Variations in how compensation is calculated and reasons for decisions;
  • Duplication of complaints resulting in "forum shopping";
  • Excessive delays and unnecessary costs.

There was universal acceptance of the need for major reform of the current processes. 


The Minister undertook two extensive public consultations to gauge the opinions of stakeholders and the general public on the current system and to incorporate their ideas for reform.

The Minister’s first public consultation concluded in September 2011, with responses demonstrating overall a strong consensus around the need for reform and the shape that reform should take. This consultation helped to inform the design and delivery of the reforms and are reflected in the proposals set out in the "Blueprint to Deliver a World-Class Workplace Relations Service" published by the Minister in April, 2012. The Blueprint provided a further opportunity for consultation which helped inform the preparation of the Scheme of the Bill and the Policy Document "Legislating for a World-Class Workplace Relations Service" which the Minister published in July 2012. The Policy document ‘Legislating for a World Class Workplace Relations Service’ was submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in July, 2012 and the Minister had a constructive dialogue with the Committee in July, 2012 on the basis of the document.

The Workplace Relations Bill 2014, published in July 2014, gave concrete form to the consultations with stakeholders and elected representatives. Following thorough scrutiny and amendments where appropriate, the Act was signed in May 2015. Since then, stakeholders have had the opportunity to prepare for the full operations of the WRC.  


 The  ERO  on  Contract Cleaning sets the rate of adult pay at €9.75 to take effect from 1st October 2015.  The ERO also sets an overtime rate for hours worked  in  excess  of an average 44 hours per week at a rate of time and a half  for  the  first  four  hours  and double time thereafter; with Sunday

overtime to be paid at the rate of double time for all hours worked. 

The  ERO  also  sets  out  Conditions of Employment covering issues such as Annual Leave, Sick Pay, Maternity Leave and Disciplinary Procedures.

The  Order  applies to workers employed by undertakings engaged in whole or in  part on the provision of cleaning and janitorial services in, or on the exterior  of,  establishments  including hospitals, offices, shops, stores, factories, apartment buildings, hotels, airports and similar establishments.

There are approximately 30,000 workers covered by the ERO  

 ERO on Security Industry 

The  ERO  on  the Security Industry sets the rate of adult pay at €10.75 to take  effect from 1st October 2015.  The ERO also sets an overtime rate for all  hours  worked  in  excess of an average 48 hours per week at a rate of time  and  a half.  The ERO also sets out Conditions of Employment coveringissues such as Annual Leave, Sick Pay, Training and Hours of Work.

The  Order applies to ‘security operatives’ meaning  a person employed by a security  firm  to  provide a security service for contract clients of that firm,  or  a  service  of a security or surveillance nature, the purpose of which is to protect persons and property.

There are just under 20,000 workers covered by the ERO.  

 Effect of EROs 

 Employers  affected  are  then  obliged  to  pay  wage  rates  and  provide conditions  of  employment  not less favourable than those prescribed.  Any breaches of an Employment Regulation Order may be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission for appropriate action.

An  employer of workers to whom an Employment Regulation Order applies must keep  records  of  wages,  payments etc., and must retain these records for three  years.  The employer must also post a prescribed notice in the place of  employment  setting  out  particulars of the statutory rates of pay and conditions of employment. 

Companies  may  be  able  to  derogate  from  EROs  in  cases  of financial difficulty.  For  this  to occur, the Labour Court must satisfy itself that specified  criteria  have been met. Such derogation will be granted, for up to   24   months,   in  cases of  proven  economic  difficulty,  following consultation with the employees.