The new Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2017 took effect from 19 October 2017.
Who is affected by the Sectoral Employment Order?
The Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) is legally binding on construction sector employers. The definition of the sector is wide and covers “Building Firms” and “Civil Engineering Firms” which includes a wide variety of firms including site clearance and those involved in stone works, as well as companies involved in the “construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, painting, decoration and demolition” of a wide variety of structures.
It covers craftsmen, construction operatives and apprentices employed in the sector. However, it does not include plumbers and electricians.
Employers falling within the definitions are bound by the terms of the SEO.
What does the SEO mean for an employer?
The SEO provides for mandatory terms and conditions including pay, pensions, and sick leave far above current statutory minimums, as well as the introduction of a new dispute resolution procedure.
Key Terms under the SEO
The following are the key terms under the SEO.
The SEO provides for the following pay rates:-
Entrant Worker: €13.77 per hour
(General Operatives who are over the age of 18 years and entering the sector for the first time).
Category 1 Worker: €17.04 per hour
(General Operatives with more than one year’s experience working in the sector)
Category 2 Worker: €18.36 per hour
(Skilled General Operatives, Scaffolders who hold an Advanced Scaffolding Card and who have four years’ experience, Banks operatives*, Steel Fixers, Crane Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators)
(*Banks operatives are more generally known as banksmen)
Craft Worker: €18.93 per hour
(Craft Workers in the following trades: Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers)
(Apprentices in the following trades: Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers)
Year 1: 33.3% of Craft rate
Year 2: 50% of Craft Rate
Year 3: 75% of Craft Rate
Year 4: 90% of Craft Rate
The above are the new minimum hourly rates of pay are as follows:
The enactment of the SEO sees an approximate increase of 10% across all grades, on the rates that had applied in the previous agreement.
The SEO also provides for ‘time and a half’ or ‘double time’ payments for various unsocial hours e.g. time and a half for “Monday to Friday normal finishing time to midnight”, and double time for Sunday, as follows:
- Monday to Friday, normal finish time to midnight: time and a half.
- Monday to Friday, midnight to normal starting time: double time.
- Saturday, first four hours from normal starting time: time and a half. All subsequent hours until midnight: double time.
- Sunday, all hours worked: double time.
- Public holidays, all hours worked: double time plus an additional day’s leave.
The SEO provides that employers must provide pension benefits with no less favourable terms than those in the Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS). The pensions’ scheme is to include a death in service aspect also. The CWPS scheme does not permit entry until the age of 21 and the SEO provides for entry at age 18.
The scheme is to be funded through a mixture of employer and employee contributions at rates set by the SEO.
Sick Pay Scheme
The SEO also provides for a mandatory sick pay scheme, in recognition of the health and safety risks posed to industry workers.
The scheme is to be funded through a mixture of employer and employee contributions at rates set by the SEO. The scheme is in line with the Construction Industry Sick Pay Scheme.
Finally, the SEO includes a new dispute resolution procedure at Individual and Collective level.
No strike or lock-out is allowed unless and until all stated dispute resolution procedures have been exhausted.
It requires employees to raise individual disputes with their employer at local level first (with a requirement on the part of the employer to respond within 5 days), before referring it, if necessary, to the Workplace Relation Commission (WRC). Either the employer or employee can appeal a WRC decision to the Labour Court.
In terms of collective disputes, the dispute should be raised with the employer first (with a requirement on the part of the employer to respond within 5 days), before being referred to the Conciliation Service of the WRC if necessary. If the issue remains unresolved, either the employer or employee can refer it to the Labour Court for investigation and recommendation
Implications for Employers in the Construction Industry
Employers in the construction sector should ensure that their standard terms and conditions meet the terms of the SEO.
The revised terms and conditions for the construction sector take effect from the date of the SEO i.e. 19th October 2017 and will apply to almost 50,000 workers in the sector.
Employers in the sector should ensure their terms and conditions meet the SEO’s requirements from the 19th October 2017.
How We Can Help You?
We provide an Employment Law Advice Hotline with unlimited support by phone and email, Contracts, and HR Policies and Procedures/Employee Handbook. We help employers in the construction industry ensure compliance with the SEO and employment law and provide support and advice, by phone, email and on-site, for all employment and HR matters.