Here we are, only 5 months away from the Brexit date and, at the time of writing, no agreement on the arrangements for the UK to leave and the possibility of a “No Deal” Brexit still high. It’s small wonder that a number of my SME clients are considering options to set up operations in Ireland in order to continue trading seamlessly from April next year – especially when we read today that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is to order his civil servants to start issuing “No Deal” instructions to business.
But operating in a foreign country means following their employment laws. So how does Ireland differ from the UK?
The good news is that the Irish system – unlike many in the EU – is based on the same legal principles and processes as the UK. So it won’t look entirely unfamiliar to businesses and HR professionals. But there are some important differences, summarised below
Key Differences between UK and Irish Employment Law
|Area of Law||UK||Ireland|
|Minimum Wage||Different Levels based on age, and for apprentices||Essentially an ‘under 18’ and ‘over 18’ rate although there are specific rates for those on training or in first two years of work after 18.|
|Working Time||20 minute Rest break entitlement after 6 hours working||15 minute rest break after 4.5 hours or 30 minutes after 6 hours|
|Pensions||Auto enrolment||No compulsory|
|Sick Pay||SSP||No compulsory|
|Holidays||5.6 weeks||4 weeks (with different calculation rules for part-timers)|
|Zero Hours||No guarantee (no work no pay)||Guaranteed a minimum number of hours even if none worked (however, very few used – most employers would use “If and When” contracts – same as UK ‘casual’ – with no rights)|
|Agency Workers||Rights only after 12 weeks with a company||Rights from Day 1|
|Employment Status||Employee, worker (limb b) or self-employed||Employee or self-employed – no ‘intermediate’ worker status|
|Redundancy Payments||Calculated on age and service||Calculated on service only|
|Statutory Notice||1 week per complete year up to max of 12||Different ‘bands’ depending on service. Max 8 weeks after 15 years|
|Unfair dismissal||Requires 2 years’ service||Requires 1 years’ service|
|Working Time||Can opt out of 48 hour max week||No opt-out|
|Compensation||No limit in discrimination or whistleblowing cases||Limit of 2 years pay (discrimination) or 5 years pay (whistleblowing)|
|Settlement Agreements||Can be used as an alternative to tribunal||No such concept|
|Trade Union||Right to recognition for collective bargain purposes if specific conditions met||No statutory right to recognition|
|TUPE||More restricted definition of a transfer|
|Discrimination||9 protected characteristics||9 protected characteristics but some different to UK
· Gender not Sex
· Civil Status (= marital status in UK)
· Family Status (parent of child under 18 – over 18 if disabled)
· Member of Traveller Community
No: Gender reassignment, or pregnancy as a separate category (covered by gender)
|Maternity Leave Pay||Up to 52 weeks mat leave, 2 weeks after birth compulsory.
Employer must pay Statutory Maternity Pay if conditions are met
|Up to 42 weeks mat leave.
Compulsory period of 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after birth.
No requirement on employer to pay, state maternity benefits available.
As with the UK, there is nothing to stop an employer offering above minimum conditions, but you can’t go below.
Obviously, this is only a general summary – more information is available from the Workplace Relations Commission which is broadly speaking the Irish equivalent of ACAS (although with more powers to inspect employers)
As well as recruiting staff in Ireland, some organisations are considering posting or seconding UK based staff there. At the moment, as both countries are EU members, this isn’t an issue. But in the event of a No Deal Brexit, will this change?
Yes. If the UK is not a member of the EU, or the broader EEA (which it won’t be in a No Deal situation) then UK nationals will be classed as third country nationals and will require a work permit. The good news is that Ireland has a considerably more relaxed approach than the UK – anyone from a third country can apply for a general employment permit unless they are in an excluded category of work (which can be found here).
So, relocation to Ireland is not too difficult in legal terms, although companies will need to think about plenty of other employment and non-employment issues. But – as per the Brexit secretary – now is the time to make your decision.
Important – this post is for general advice and information and neither Ariadne Associates or the author can be held liable if you take action based solely on the contents of it. You should seek professional advice, especially as the situation is changing daily.