Electrical Contracting Sectoral Employment Order (SEO)

Last updated: March 1st, 2023

First Published: August 25th, 2017
Last updated: March 1st, 2023

Electrical Contracting Sectoral Employment Order Saga Ends

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.

High Court battles

The NECI made its first application to the High Court in 2017 which led to the proposed SEO being withdrawn by the unions that were advocating for it.

The second set of proceeding issued by the NECI (which was fully contested by the State) led to a Supreme Court decision striking down the 2019 Electrical Contracting Sectoral Employment Order. In this set of proceedings, NECI successfully argued that the terms of this SEO effectively vested law-making power in the Construction Workers Pension Scheme.

The third and most recent set of High Court proceedings have resulted in the State consenting to an order quashing the existing Sectoral Employment Order in the Electrical Contracting Sector.

Who are the NECI?

National Electrical Contractors of Ireland (NECI) is a trade association that represents smaller businesses in the electrical contracting sector. NECI has resolutely resisted the implementation of a number of SEOs impacting its members through the courts. Many of NECI’s members are based outside Dublin and there was a widespread view in their ranks that the minimum pay and conditions set out in the SEO would render their businesses unviable.

What happens now?

The terms, pay and conditions that were specified in the SEO are no longer valid.

The pay increase of 2.8% that came into effect for electricians in the electrical contracting sector remains in place as an existing contractual entitlement. The scheduled increase that was to take effect from February 1, 2023, will no longer be legally binding on employers in the sector.

What now for SEOs?

The NECI has consistently identified gaps in the legal process that precedes the passing of a statutory instrument confirming the terms of a SEO.

Should unions in the electrical contracting sector make another recommendation in relation to minimum conditions of employment, the Labour Court and the relevant minister will need to ensure that all the issues identified in the NECI’s legal challenges are addressed.

The NECI told its members that has simply sought fairness and transparency in querying the Labour Court procedures. It also reminded members that they may need to return to court if another SEO proposal is made by the Electrical Contracting Association, Connect trade union and the Construction Workers’ Pension Scheme.

Expert assistance with employment contracts

If your business is subject to a Sectoral Employment Order, it’s very important to seek out expert and professional guidance when setting your pay and conditions of employment.

To discuss a review of your employment documentation, speak to one of our employment law experts now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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