News & Events

Minister English requests Labour Court to consider establishing a Joint Labour Committee for Tusla Registered Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Service Providers

Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, has formally referred a request to the Labour Court to consider the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for Tusla Registered Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare (ELC and SAC) Service Providers.

The request for application for an establishment order, was based on an independent report by Dr Kevin Duffy, the former Chair of the Labour Court, prepared for the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD on the matter.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to "support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order, which would determine minimum rates of pay for childcare workers, as well as terms and conditions of employment."

Minister English said

“Having read Dr Duffy’s report, I note the positive progress made through engagement with key stakeholders. I welcome the fact that the representatives of both employers and workers in the sector have indicated a willingness to come together to engage in a meaningful way on the pay and other conditions of employment in the childcare sector. In these circumstances I consider it is appropriate for me to refer a request to the Labour Court who, in turn, will inquire whether the statutory provisions supporting a recommendation for the establishment of a new JLC have been met”.

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 may be given effect in law by means of Employment Regulation Orders made by the Minister.


What are JLCs?

JLCs are bodies established under the Industrial Relations Acts to provide machinery for fixing statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment for particular employees in particular sectors. They may be set up by the Labour Court on the application of (i) the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment or (ii) a trade union or (iii) any organisation claiming to be representative of the workers or the employers involved.

A JLC is made up of equal numbers of employer and worker representatives appointed by the Labour Court and a chairman and substitute chairman appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. JLCs operate in areas where collective bargaining is not well established, and wages tend to be low.  Currently there are JLCs covering:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Catering 
  • Contract cleaning
  • Hairdressing
  • Hotels
  • Retail, grocery, and allied trades
  • Security industry
  • English Language Schools 

Establishing a JLC

The Industrial Relations Act 1946 provides for the establishment by the Labour Court of a JLC, either at the behest of a trade union, an organisation representative of workers or employers or by the Minister.  Section 38 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 sets out the procedure which must be followed before the Labour Court would consider recommending the making of an establishment order for a JLC.

Section 39 of the 1946 Act as amended by the Industrial Relations Act 2015 provides that where the Court has held an inquiry into an application for an establishment order, the Court may, if it is satisfied that to do so would promote harmonious industrial relations between workers and employers and assist in the avoidance of industrial unrest, make a recommendation to the Minister in either the terms of the draft establishment order prepared in accordance with Section 38 or with such modifications of those terms as it considers necessary.

Where an application is made to the Court for an establishment order, the Court shall consider such application and after consultation with such parties as it thinks necessary, prepare  a draft establishment order. The Court shall then advertise its intention to hold an inquiry into  the application and make the draft establishment available order to interested parties who will  have to opportunity to raise any objections.

The role of the Minister, provided that he is satisfied that the procedures set out in the legislation have been complied with, and he considers that it is appropriate to do so, is to then make an order in the terms of the recommendation.

Once this request is made, the Labour Court will carry out its role as set out in the legislation and proceed accordingly.  The Minister will have no further input until, and only if he receives a recommendation from the Court.


The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact the Press Office, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment: or (01) 631 2200