What is a Collective Agreement?
In cases where an employer recognises a trade union or a group of unions, it is common to engage in collective bargaining to negotiate agreements. A collective agreement is one made by or on behalf of an employer and a representative trade union which governs pay and/or other conditions of employment.
Under section 9 of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2011, any provision in a collective agreement or other order which discriminates on any of the nine grounds may be declared null and void. This includes an agreement which results in a discriminatory difference in pay.
The agreements and orders which may be challenged are: collective agreements, Employment Regulation Orders (made by the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Acts) and registered employment agreements. A person who is affected by such an agreement or order can refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. Under s.86 of the Acts, the Commission may refer a complaint of this kind to mediation, if the parties do not object, or can investigate and issue a decision. The statutory remedy provided is that a provision which is found to be discriminatory shall be declared null and void, and consequently no longer possesses legal effect. The Commission may, if it thinks it appropriate, advise on how a non-discriminatory replacement provision could be framed