Statement by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD on the consequences of the High Court judgment in the case of John Grace Fried Chicken Limited and Others v The Catering Joint Labour Committee and Others, delivered on 7th July 2011
12th July 2011
As a result of last week’s judgment, as I said in media interviews last Thursday evening, I and my Department engaged in urgent consultations with the Attorney General and her Office to explore all legal options available which would provide protection to workers previously covered by EROs. In particular, two possibilities were examined: enacting emergency legislation to provide temporary protection for workers pending enactment of comprehensive reforms, and appealing the judgment that would likely have the result of providing a stay on its effects.
Unfortunately, as a result of these consultations, it has become clear that neither option is viable. There are not sufficient grounds for an appeal; emergency legislation would be extremely complex, would run a very real risk of further challenge and would in any event be of doubtful impact.
Now the priority is to proceed with a radical overhaul of the JLC system to make it more responsive to the needs of a modern, 21st century economy. The comprehensive reform proposals that have already been the subject of discussions with stakeholders and at Government will address the weaknesses identified by the Court, and would therefore restore protection for workers in the relevant sectors.
The Attorney General has assured me that the drafting of legislation required by the proposals will be treated with the highest priority by her Office. My Department will also treat this issue with the most extreme urgency.
My intention is that legislation be introduced to the Dáil very early in the next term with prioritised enactment thereafter. My Department officials are meeting with the Chief Whip tomorrow at which this legislation, and how best it can be speedily enacted, will be discussed.
NOTE FOR EDITORS
As a consequence of the Judgment of the High Court, delivered last Thursday 7th July 2011, all of the seventeen Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) ceased to have statutory effect from that date and cannot be enforced.
Where prosecutions for non-compliance with an ERO have been commenced these will have to be withdrawn. No further prosecutions can be initiated in relation to compliance with EROs that were in place prior to 7th July 2011.
Contractual entitlements which workers enjoyed prior to 7th July 2011 remain protected by law unless changed by agreement with employers. The usual remedies are available to enforce these rights. Anybody seeking information on their employment rights should check the NERA website- www.employmentrights.ie.
Last modified: 12/07/2011