Are There Any More Sectoral Employment Orders (SEO) Coming Down the Line?

Last updated: April 26th, 2023

First published: March 5th, 2018
Last updated: April 19th, 2023

The sectors governed by Sectoral Employment Orders (SEO)

A ‘sectoral employment order’ (SEO) is a piece of employment legislation in Ireland that sets the pay and other conditions of employment in a particular sector.

At the time of writing, there are two sectoral employment orders in effect in Ireland.

The Sectoral Employment Order (Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting Sector) 2018 sets the statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions for workers employed in the Mechanical Engineering Building Services Contracting sector.

The Sectoral Employment Order (Construction Sector) 2021 came into effect on 1 February 2022. This SEO sets the statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions for craftspeople, construction operatives and apprentices employed in the construction sector.

How sectoral employment orders/SEOs come into effect

Under the legislation governing the establishment of a SEO, an organisation that substantially represents either employers (an employers’ association for example) or employees (a trade union for example) can petition the Labour Court to examine the terms and conditions relating to remuneration and any sick pay or pension scheme in a particular sector of the economy.

If approved, a ‘sectoral employment order’ (SEO) sets out minimum pay rates as well as pension and sick pay schemes for that particular economic sector. The legislation defines an economic sector as a “sector of the economy concerned with a specific economic activity requiring specific qualifications, skills or knowledge.”

After examining the request from the employer or employee association, the Labour Court is authorised to make a recommendation to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to approve a sectoral employment order (SEO).

Legal actions against electrical contracting sectoral employment order/SEOs

In February 2022, National Electrical Contractors Ireland (NECI) began judicial review proceedings challenging the legality of a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) setting out minimum employment conditions in that industry.

After a long-running legal battle, the High Court confirmed in October 2022 that it would consent to an order quashing the SEO currently in place for the Electrical Contracting Industry.

The Labour Court and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation will therefore need to carefully consider any further requests to implement a SEO from employers’ or employee organisations.

Construction Sector SEO increase in September 2023

The Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Business approved the amendment of the Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the construction sector in April 2023.

The new pay rates will come into effect on 18 September 2023 with further increases in pay scheduled to come into effect from 5 August 2024.

Under the latest SEO in the construction sector, the minimum hourly rate for a labourer with more than two years’ experience will break €20 for the first time.

The order also sets out core working hours for the industry along with minimum overtime and other premium payments.

Rates for apprentices, which are tied to the pay of craft workers will also increase under the latest SEO.

Need help with minimum rates of pay?

Payment of wages claims are one of the most common causes of action against employers.

Contact a Graphite HRM expert today to confirm the minimum rates of pay in your sector. Call 01 886 0350 or request a call back here.

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