Employment Law Update

Author:Ms Elizabeth Ryan and Ronnie Neville
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran

Employment Equality (Amendment) Bill 2013

The Employment Equality (Amendment) Bill 2013, published on 25 February 2013 proposes to amend the existing definition of discrimination in the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011, to include discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.

Section 2(1) of the Employment Equality Acts will be amended to include "gender identity" which is defined in the Bill as:

"Each person's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the person's sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other experience of gender, including dress, speech and mannerism."

The Bill will now have to be referred to a Committee where amendments may be made to it before being passed by the Seanad and the Dáil before it becomes law.

If the Bill is implemented, employers will need to update Employee Handbooks, and Discrimination and Harassment Policies to include the ground of gender identity and to ensure fair working practices for transsexual and transgender employees.

Extension of Parental Leave

The European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013 were implemented on 8 March, 2013, and extend the entitlement to parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks.

Parental leave is provided for under the Parental Leave Acts 1998 - 2013. The Acts entitle parents to unpaid parental leave for each child under the age of 8. Under the new Regulations parental leave can be taken for a child up to the age of 16 years if the child has a long term illness or disability. Previously parental leave could only be taken for a child up to the age of 16 if the child had a disability.

In addition, the new Regulations allow parents to request a change in their working hours upon their return from parental leave. Employers do not have to accede to such requests but are obliged to consider them.

European Parliament Proposal to Cap Bankers' Bonuses

On 16 April 2013, a European Parliament proposal to implement a cap on the bonuses received by employees in the financial services sector was passed. The proposal is part of a wider proposal to stabilise the financial services industry in Europe.

It is proposed that:

The salary to bonus ratio to be fixed at 1:1, and can be raised to 1:2 if approved by 66% of shareholders owning half the shares represented, or 75% of votes if there is no quorum...

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