The following pieces of legislation provide for employee involvement in the workplace:
1. Directive 2009/38/EC
Directive 2009/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees has been transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Act 1996) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 380 of 2011). The Regulations were signed into effect on 13th July 2011.
2. Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006
The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 transposes EU Directive 2002/14/EC. The purpose of the Act, which came into operation from 24th July 2006, is to provide for the establishment of a general framework setting out minimum requirements for the right to information and consultation of employees in undertakings with at least 50 employees. The Act applies to:
- Undertakings with at least 150 employees from 4th September 2006
- Undertakings with at least 100 employees from 23rd March 2007
- Undertakings with at least 50 employees from 23rd March 2008
The Department has published an Explanatory Guide, which provides general guidance on the Act to employees and employers in non-legal language.
The Guidance Booklet complements a S.I. No 132 of 2008 Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code Of Practice On Information And Consultation) (Declaration) Order 2008, which provides employers and employees with user-friendly and practical information on the provisions of the Act
3. European Company Statute (employee involvement aspects)
The European Company Statute is a EU legal instrument that gives companies with commercial interests in more than one Member State the option of forming a European Company (or “SE”), the objective of which is to make it easier for such companies to operate across the EU.
Use of the European Company Statute framework is optional.
The employee involvement aspects of the Statute are dealt with by the Industrial Relations Section, and are set out in the “European Communities (European Public Limited – Liability Company) (Employee Involvement) Regulations 2006” - S.I No. 623 of 2006. The employee involvement Regulations transposes EU Directive 2001/86/EC into Irish law. S.I. No. 21 of 2007 and S.I. No.22 of 2007, dealing with the company law aspects of the Statute, are the responsibility of the Company Law Section of the Department.
4. European Cooperative Society Statute (employee involvement aspects)
The European Cooperative Society Statute is an EU legal instrument that enables the establishment of a European Cooperative Society (to be known as an “SCE”), the objective of which is to make it easier for cooperatives to operate across the EU. Use of the European Cooperative Society framework is optional.
The employee involvement aspects of the Statute are dealt with by the Industrial Relations Section of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and are set out in the “European Communities (European Cooperative Society) (Employee Involvement) Regulations 2007” - S.I No. 259 of 2007. The employee involvement Regulations transposes EU Directive 2003/72/EC into Irish law. A separate Regulation dealing with the company law aspects of the Statute is the responsibility of the Company Law Section of the Department.
5. Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Acts 1977 and 1988
The Industrial Relations Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation monitors the implementation of the Worker Participation Acts.
The purpose of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977 – No.6 of 1977, is to provide board level participation of workers in certain enterprises through the election of employees for appointment to the board of directors.
The purpose of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1988 – No.13 of 1988, is to facilitate the introduction of sub board participative arrangements in a broad range of State enterprise, by agreement between the enterprise and the employee interests. A number of associated statutory instruments can be accessed on the Irish Statute Book website.
6. European Works Councils (Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees)
The Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Act 1996, No. 20 of 1996, transposes EU Directive 94/45/EC into Irish law. The Act provides for the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in community-scale undertakings and community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees. Community-scale undertakings are large multi-nationals with at least 1,000 employees across the member states and with at least 150 employees in each of at least two Member States.
EU Directive 94/45/EC was extended to the UK by EU Directive 97/74/EC (transposed into Irish law by S.I No. 386 of 1999) and was adapted by reason of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Community by EU Directive 2006/109/EC, transposed by S.I No. 599 of 2007.
Directive 2009/38/EC revises Directive 94/45/EC and repeals the other two Directives referred to above. It was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Act 1996) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 380 of 2011). The Regulations took effect from 13th July 2011.
Regulation 9 of the 2011 Regulations introduces a new obligation to notify “the competent European employees’ and employers’ organisations” about the composition of the Special Negotiating Body (SNB) and the commencement of negotiations. These organisations referred to should be understood to mean the European social partners' organisations that are consulted by the European Commission under Article 154 of the EU Treaty. The Commission publishes and regularly updates a list of such European Social Partners' organizations, which is available on its website at http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=522&langId=en. In order to secure an effective and simple way to implement this new obligation, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and EU employers’ representative body BusinessEurope have provided single contact email addresses to which this information can be sent – these are, respectively, email@example.com (or website www.etuc.org) and firstname.lastname@example.org. Once they have received information regarding SNBs/negotiations, both bodies are responsible for disseminating the information to the other relevant organizations concerned.
The reference in Regulation 10 to ‘representatives of competent recognised Community-level trade union organisations’ should be understood to mean those employee representative organizations consulted by the Commission under Article 154 of the EU Treaty – see above for link to published list.
In Regulation 18, the reference to ‘national employee representation bodies’ should be understood as meaning any individual or body elected or appointed to represent employees’ interests in an information and consultation arrangement that was not established solely for the purpose of dealing with transnational issues. This includes in particular employees’ representatives elected or appointed under the Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 and the information and consultation provisions of the Protection of Employment Acts 1977 to 2007 and the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003.
7. Cross - Border Mergers Regulations – employee participation
The Industrial Relations Unit of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is responsible for the employee participation aspects of the European Communities (Cross - Border Mergers) Regulations 2008 (S.I No. 157 of 2008). The Company Law Section of the Department is responsible for the other provisions of the Regulations, which transposed EU Directive 2005/56/EC. This Directive aims to facilitate cross-border mergers between limited liability companies in the European Union. The intention is to reduce the cost of such operations, to guarantee their legal certainty and to offer this option to the maximum number of companies.
Code of Practice on Employee Representatives
The main purpose of this Code of Practice is to set out for the guidance of employers, employees and trade unions the duties and responsibilities of employee representatives (frequently referred to in trade union rule books and employer/trade union agreements as shop stewards) and the protection and facilities which should be afforded them in order to enable them to carry out their duties in an effective and constructive manner.
The principal duties and responsibilities of employee representatives include -
- representing members fairly and effectively in relation to matters arising within the undertaking or establishment in which they work and which concern employment and conditions of employment
- participating in negotiation and grievance procedures as provided for in employer/trade union agreements or in accordance with recognised custom and practice in the undertaking or establishment in which they work
- co-operating with the management of the undertaking or establishment in ensuring the proper implementation and observance of employer/trade union agreements, the use of agreed dispute and grievance procedures and the avoidance of any action, especially unofficial action, which would be contrary to such agreements or procedures and which would affect the continuity of operations or services
- acting in accordance with existing laws and regulations, the rules of the union and good industrial relations practice; liaising with and seeking advice and assistance from the appropriate full-time trade union official
- having regard at all times to the safe and efficient operation of the undertaking or establishment
- subject to any other arrangements made between an employer and a trade union, employee representatives should conform to the same job performance standards, company rules, disciplinary conditions and other conditions of employment as comparable employees in the undertaking or establishment in which they work.