Foreign nationals working in Ireland are now to benefit from an increased range of protections. New legal provisions which have been designed to offer more robust protections to Ireland’s foreign workforce have just been signed into law by the Irish Government.
The new protections are contained within the European Union (Posting of Workers) Regulations 2016. They are aimed not at foreigners now permanently living and working in Ireland, but rather in workers who have been posted in Ireland. In other words, the beneficiaries of the new laws are those who are employed in one member state of the EU, but have been temporarily assigned to temporarily work in another member state – specifically Ireland – by their employer. The rules particularly aim to tackle problems in the construction sector, which has had particular problems with foreign employees’ rights being breached.
These new regulations provide specific rights for foreign workers who have been posted by their employers in Ireland, complete with an improved and expanded route for the enforcement of those rights. The new regulations also include provisions to ensure that foreign employers who have operations within Ireland adhere to the standards that are expected in Ireland when it comes to the rights and treatment of employees.
Foreign service providers who post workers to Ireland are required, under the new regulation, to inform the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) of the postings. Being made aware, the WRC will then aim to ensure that the necessary rules and regulations are adhered to by the employer in question.
Foreign construction workers who have been posted to Ireland and have not been paid all they were entitled to will now have a stronger route for bringing about a legal complaint. They will be able to bring a claim not just against their employer, but also against the contractor who is above their direct employer in the supply chain. If employers can show that they carried out adequate due diligence, then they will be able to defend themselves on this basis.
The new laws also introduce measures allowing WRC to more effectively enforce the rights of foreign workers posted to Ireland when cross-border legal action is necessary. This includes international financial disputes, fines, and financial penalties.
According to Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the new regulations will allow for better enforcement of the rights to which Ireland’s foreign posted workers are already entitled under the EU Posted Workers Directive. Pat Breen, the Minister of state for Employment and Small Business, also welcomed the regulations, stating that they provided stronger protections for workers at only minimal cost to employers who were properly compliant.