Employment Law In The UK And Ireland: The Notable Differences

Author:Ms Aisling Dunne and Siobhra Rush

As a result of the implementation of EU directives since the 1970s, UK employment law is similar to that in Ireland. However, there are some nuances and differences in specific areas which could trip up the unwary. This overview sets out the more notable differences between the two jurisdictions.

Status of employment

Generally, in both the UK and Ireland, legislative employment protections only apply to employees. However, the UK has provided for an additional classification in the sense that it recognises an individual can be an employee, a worker or an independent contractor. This additional status of worker provides certain protections to individuals who ordinarily would be classified as independent contractors in Ireland.

Basic employment provisions

Working time legislation: Irish legislation does not permit employees to opt out of the 48-hour maximum working week, unlike their UK counterparts (there are some exceptions to this rule for specific categories of employee; for example, doctors). Minimum notice periods: statutory minimum notice periods are different. This is an important point to bear in mind for a cross-border employer, which should familiarise itself with the statutory notice periods that will apply at a minimum in the respective jurisdictions. For instance, the maximum statutory notice period in Ireland is eight weeks (after 15 years' service). Benefits and entitlements

Protective leave: while both jurisdictions provide statutory maternity, adoptive and parental leave, there is no statutory paternity leave in Ireland (although some employers provide a number of days at their contractual discretion). Further, there is no statutory obligation on employers in Ireland to pay an employee who takes any of the aforementioned periods of leave. Employees may qualify for maternity benefit and adoptive benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Sick pay: there is no common law or statutory requirement for an Irish employer to pay sick pay to an employee. However, many employers do operate sick pay schemes and, if this is the case, the employer must furnish the employee with written details of the same. The position is somewhat different in the UK: in circumstances where relevant statutory requirements are met by an employee, an employer is obliged to pay statutory sick pay. Termination of employment

Compromise agreements: unlike the UK, there is no statutory recognition of compromise agreements in Ireland and, indeed...

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