Employment Law Changes 2024

Tue Mar 26 2024

2024 will see many changes for employers to keep abreast of within employment law. Knowing what is happening and when it is happening is crucial for employers when interacting with employees and protecting their business.

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023

In addition to changes that were implemented in 2023 in relation to unpaid medical leave and domestic violence leave, the final two parts of the Act come into effect in March 2024.  Namely the right to request remote working and the right to request flexible working (parents and carers).

The employer is now obliged to consider all requests to work remotely or flexibly, as well as the employees’ circumstances and rationale for these requests. Then, they will be expected to weigh them against their business needs.

While the employer is not under any obligation to grant any requests, they must respond, in writing, within four weeks.

If they choose to refuse a request, they must outline any reason for their decision. Failure to do so could result in a complaint to the WRC.

The New Workplace Pension Scheme

The Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings System, is a new retirement saving system for employees set to be introduced in the second half of 2024.

The system was designed to close the pension gap in Ireland. It’s estimated that approximately 750,000 workers will be enrolled in the new workplace pension scheme. Participation will be voluntary, and employees will have the ability to opt out.

Within this system, matching contributions are to be made by employers, as well as contribution ‘top-ups’ by the State.  For instance, for every €3 saved by a worker, a further €4 will be credited to their pension savings account.

The Increase in National Minimum Wage

As of 1st January 2024, the National Minimum Wage has increased by €1.40 per hour to €12.70 per hour. Different age ranges will receive different wages and those under 20 years will be on reduced rates.

It should be noted that, if an employee works on a Sunday at minimum wage, employers should review the appropriate rates of pay.

The Increase In Parent’s Leave

Parent’s leave (different to parental leave) is a type of leave accessible to employees that are considered a ‘relevant parent’.

In Budget 2024, it was announced that parent’s leave would be extended by two weeks, a total of nine weeks altogether. Employers can expect this increase to take effect in August 2024.

There is no minimum service requirement for an employee to qualify for this leave, which can be taken consecutively or separately. However, it is to be taken during the first two years of the child’s birth or adoption (with some date limitations in place).

As to whether this is paid leave, it is at the employer’s discretion. Overall, as an employer, you are under no obligation to pay employees that avail of parent’s leave, and they may in fact qualify for Parent’s Benefit (depending on their PRSI contributions).

The Widening Of Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 requires companies of a certain size to publish a yearly report on their company’s gender pay gap (GPG). Since its implementation in 2022, its reach has been broadened to include smaller companies with fewer employees.

In 2024, it will extend to companies with 150 or more employees. Then, from 2025 onwards, it will affect those with 50 or more employees.

The Increase In Statutory Sick Pay Days

On 1st January 2024, the statutory sick leave entitlement increased from 3 to 5 days for the 2024 calendar year.

Both part-time and full-time employees can avail of the scheme, though to do so, they must have completed the 13 weeks’ service requirement for the employer.

This scheme will continue to evolve, as the number of days provided under the scheme is set to increase in 2025 to 7 days, and again in 2026 to 10 days.

The Use of AI at Work

AI and its use is growing across all industries.  This year, AI policy in the workplace will also be a focus in the Health and Safety Authority (HSA)’s 2024 Programme of Work.

In turn, employers may want to ensure that, if they’re using AI, they’re doing so in line with current legislation. It may be also time to consider how AI might affect company redundancy policies.

By implementing an AI use policy, employers can factor in protection against additional issues, such as risks regards intellectual property, confidential client/employee information, and even business reputation.

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