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Remember when we said last year on our podcast and elsewhere (more than once) that 2023 was a hectic year for employment law updates, and that HR professionals and organisations had a lot of things to get up-to-speed on?

Well the bad news, is that 2024 is looking busy too, with many long-awaited or new updates now coming in to practice.

The good news though, we’ve gathered input from our team of experts along with some of Ireland’s leading employment lawyers and specialists to bring you the ultimate guide to Employment Law for 2024, detailing not just the latest updates, but also some of the key challenges that you need support on this year, with guidance and advice from those who know best!

P.S. We’ve also got a very useful webinar coming up on this exact topic, on Wednesday 31st of January at 11:15. Register here and get it in the diary!

For now though, read on!


Sick Leave

What’s the latest update?

Statutory sick leave days increasing from 3 to 5 days. However, keep an eye on case law here, namely the Musgrave case etc. Favourable vs legislation etc.

The amount of paid sick leave that can be taken rose from three days to five days on January 1, 2024. Remember that regardless of employment status (full or part-time), all employees are entitled to five days off. However, whether or not they work full- or part-time will affect the sick pay rate, which is capped at €110 per day.

What are the experts saying?

Megan Power, HR Consultant here at Insight HR says that “the most obvious advice for HR professionals here, is to ensure that your contracts, handbooks, policies and procedures are all updated to reflect this change. And as we always say, that’s only half the battle – so also ensure that these changes are communicated effectively to managers and employees alike!”

In addition, we also recommend taking a look at the Katerina Leszczynska v Musgrave Operating Partners from late last year, which highlights some key WRC comments around favourable terms and other various intricacies.

Mandatory retirement ages

What’s the latest update?

Although there has been no update to the legislation as such, one particular case has been identified as having a vital impact on how employers must handle this area of employment law.

What are the experts saying?

The area of mandatory retirement remains a murky one, and it is hoped the judgment of the Supreme Court in Mallon v Minister for Justice will bring some clarity to this area for both public and private sector employers.” David McCauley, Senior Associate at McCann Fitzgerald.

In this case, Cavan and Monaghan County Sheriff Seamus Mallon, who assumed the post in 1987, contested the mandatory retirement age of 70 for sheriffs, asserting it breached age discrimination provisions. Despite the High Court dismissing Mallon’s challenge, citing specific statutory provisions for sheriffs, he sought a direct appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal will delve into issues such as the compatibility of the retirement age with EU law, the establishment of limits based on general probabilities of age, health, and competence, and the justiciability of the Minister’s decision not to amend the statute.

This case looks to be a hugely influential one, on what is already a challenging topic for employers here in Ireland. Once resolved and released, the judgement from this case will impact on WRC decisions, appeals etc. going forward.

Similarly, in the case of Thomas Doolin v Eir Business Eircom Limited ADJ-00045261, the complainant, Mr Doolin, brought a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) under the Employment Equality Acts claiming that he was discriminated against on the grounds of age.

The WRC analysis of this case found that for an employer to stand over the decision to mandatorily retire an employee, the reasons must be specific to that employee and cannot be generic or non-specific.

Our advice? Keep an eye on this topic and the associated cases, and ask for support if you’re unsure about managing such a challenge!

Probationary periods

What’s the latest update?

Although the most recent update to this area of employment law came in 2022 via the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions, this remains a very live challenge that many employers are still battling with.

As a reminder, the latest regulations state that probation periods can be no longer than 6 months. In exceptional circumstances, an Employee’s probation period can be extended for up to a further 6 months (up to a maximum of 12 months in total). An extended probation period occurs when it is deemed in the Employees interest or when an Employee has been on extended leave, such as sick leave, during their probation. It can also be extended where it is justified by the nature of the work, for example, public service employment.

What are the experts saying?

Megan Power echoes that, “although this isn’t necessarily a new update to employment law, it’s something we’re hearing a lot from our clients with questions about what it means, how to manage it, and how to resolve any challenges effectively if there is indeed any deviation from what the legislation outlines. And although it’s something you hear me and the team say a lot, our advice is simple – it’s imperative to have up-to-date handbooks, contracts and policies, particularly for something like this which may essentially, set the beginning of the working relationship or someone’s career in your organisation, off on the wrong foot. We’re here to help, so let us do that.”

Pension Auto-Enrolment

For this topic, we spoke to Aisling Parkinson, Partner at Lewis Silkin, who outlined her observations and advice on yet another hot topic on the minds of HR teams and organisations this year.

What’s the latest update?

Employers should keep an eye on the highly anticipated introduction of the new auto-enrolment system which aims to automatically enrol employees who meet certain criteria into a workplace pension scheme, with enrolments expected to commence by the end of 2024.

It is proposed that employees aged between 23 and 60 who do not have a pension scheme and earn more than €20,000 a year would be automatically enrolled into this new system. It is expected there will be an option for an employee to opt-out. The plan is to structure the scheme in such a way that for every €3 that an employee contributes, the employer would also contribute €3. The State would then top up this amount by €1. This means that potentially for every €3 contributed by the employee, a total of €7 would be put into the employee’s account.

While officially this is still on track for the second half of 2024, the reality is that it could be even later than this as the legislation underpinning it has yet to be drafted. Once introduced, it will be gradually phased in over a decade.


Barry Crushell, Principal Solicitor at Crushell & Co | Law At Work, explained to us, his perspective on this area of employment law, highlighting some noteworthy considerations for employers.

“As a consequence of the Supreme Court decision in the Karshan (Midlands) Ltd v Domino’s Pizza case, I advise all companies who avail of contractors, to review the procedures and paperwork put in place between them. Although companies may have an agreement in place with an individual, which supposedly puts them at arm’s length from an employer-employee relationship, Revenue and the Courts are increasingly looking at the realities of the working relationship to determine the actual nature of those commercial arrangements. Key considerations include the intentions of both parties, the extent to which the company controls or directs the worker, as well as the tax affairs of both parties.”

Remote and Flexible working

Another topic that has been at the forefront of employment law for a number of years now, and is threatening to become “old news” in the minds of many employers, is the whole area of remote and flexible working.

On this topic, we heard some fantastic insights again from both Aisling Parkinson & Barry Crushell.

Aisling Parkinson Employers are currently awaiting the imminent publication of the WRC Code of Practice in relation to the right to request remote and/or flexible work arrangements. The publication of this code is expected to coincide shortly thereafter with regulations commencing the remote/flexible working sections in last year’s Work Life Balance legislation.

At a minimum we know that to avail of a remote working arrangement, an employee will need six months continuous service. When evaluating requests, employers will be expected to consider both business and employee needs as well as the yet-to-be-published guidance in the WRC Code of Practice.

While many employers have already introduced policies for remote working, when the new Code of Practice is published, employers will need to compare their existing policies and tweak where necessary. Where employers already have existing arrangements with employees allowing them to work remotely, they will still be required to entertain requests from employees under the legislation once those sections commence. It is also important for employers to remember that remote work does not necessarily mean working from home, and that remote and flexible work are different concepts also.

It will be interesting to see how employers handle the new rights for remote and flexible work requests, especially if they want employees to return to the office. As work arrangements change, employers will need to stay up to date to ensure they are balancing the needs of their organization with those of their employees.

Barry Crushell made an interesting observation, that we’re sure, many employers around Ireland may agree with.

“I am concerned that, as remote working becomes an increasingly embedded feature of our working environment, the opportunity to resolve minor internal disputes, may be decreasing. Minor disagreements that would ordinarily have the potential to be resolved over an informal chat in the workplace, have the potential to escalate, if not addressed early. It is more important than ever that employers review the informal mechanisms available to employees, to address workplace issues, before an otherwise trivial matter, is amplified because of a miscommunication over an email or Teams meeting.”

Enhanced parents’ leave

What’s the latest update? Employees who are deemed to be “relevant parents” are eligible for Parent’s Leave, which should not be confused with Parental Leave. Parent’s Leave will be extended by two weeks, for a total of nine weeks, as stated in Budget 2024. This is scheduled to come into effect in August 2024.

An employee may take parent’s leave consecutively or individually, and there is no minimum service requirement. But with some date restrictions in effect, it must be taken within the first two years of the child’s birth or adoption.

What are the experts saying? In our recent chat with Deirdre Malone, Partner, Head of Employment Law, EY Law Ireland on episode 152 of The HR Room Podcast, Deirdre outlined how, beyond understanding the legislation and implementing it in a compliant manner, this is also another opportunity or chance to really boost your organisation’s culture and the impact that your policies and procedures can truly have on your employees.

Domestic Violence Leave

What’s the latest update?

From 27 November 2023, employees have a legal right to 5 days of paid domestic violence. All employees who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse are entitled to domestic violence leave.

You are eligible if the person perpetrating the domestic violence and abuse is your:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Cohabitant
  • Current or former intimate partner (current boyfriend or girlfriend or ex)
  • Child who is over 18 and not financially dependent on you

You are also eligible for domestic violence leave if you are supporting a ‘relevant person’. A ‘relevant person’ is someone who has experienced or is experiencing domestic violence or abuse and that person is your:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Cohabitant
  • Intimate partner
  • Child who is under 18
  • Another dependent person

Employees do not need to be working in a job for a certain amount of time to qualify. Employees do not have to give the employer notice to take the leave in emergency circumstances. However, they should give notice if you are able to. And the domestic violence can be ongoing or have occurred in the past.

The entitlement to domestic violence leave comes from the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.

What are the experts saying?

With a sensitive topic such as this, we could dedicate a full article to advice for employers on how to manage these situations, provide support for their employees, craft effective policies, and so on. Thankfully, we’ve already done just that! Check out our Domestic Violence: A Guide For Employers for full information and advice.

Minimum Wage Increase

What’s the latest update?

From the 1st of January 2024, the minimum wage for workers over the age of 20, has risen from €11.30 to €12.70 from 1 January 2024.

What are the experts saying?

Although this may seem solely a financial issue due to the increase in the cost of employing staff, this also has a wider impact on the HR department too. From pay rises and payroll queries, to increases in the cost of hiring team members, and alongside the increase in sick pay and many other business costs, HR professionals and teams should, at the very least, be conscious of what this change may bring.

Gender Pay Gap

What’s the latest update?

Although the Gender Pay Gap seems to have fallen slightly off the radar with regards to coverage and discussion, for many employers, it is something that absolutely needs to be on their radar in 2024. This year, the qualifying threshold for gender pay gap reporting will drop to organisations with 150 or more employees (and drop again to 50+ employees in 2025).” David McCauley, Senior Associate at McCann Fitzgerald.

What are the experts saying?

Many companies have come out already to announce their gender pay gap results, however, the full scale of the reporting has yet to be definitively determined. In any event, no matter what your sense of a gender pay gap or company size, clarity and preparation is key.

For full information on the Gender Pay Gap legislation, visit the government’s FAQ page here.

And, of course, we covered this on our podcast! Listen back to our conversation with Mary Connaughton, Director at CIPD Ireland on this topic!

Staying up-to-date and implementing these updates

So how do I make sure our contracts, handbooks and policies are up-to-date?

  1. Conduct a thorough review: Start by reviewing your current employment contracts, handbooks, and policies. Identify areas that may be outdated or in need of revision. Pay special attention to changes in employment laws and regulations, such as the above, since your last update.
  2. Ask the experts: Consider consulting with experts or employment law professionals who specialise in this area. They can provide valuable insights into how these changes affect your organization and help draft compliant documents. As we always say, the time spent on a phone call to an expert before you start, can save 10 times the time on the other side if things go wrong!
  3. Clear and concise language: Ensure that all contracts, handbooks, and policies are written in clear, understandable language. Avoid jargon that may confuse employees. Any policy is only as good as its implementation. If a policy isn’t clear or understood by your employees, then how can it be truly embedded in your organisation?
  4. Customisation for your organisation: Tailor your documents to reflect the specific needs and culture of your organisation. Off-the-shelf templates may not address your unique requirements, so make sure to understand what your organisations needs as opposed to simply filling a gap for compliance or ticking a box.
  5. Regular Reviews: Commit to regular reviews and updates. As you can see from this guide, employment laws are subject to change, and your documents should evolve accordingly. Regularly gather feedback from employees through surveys, focus groups, or anonymous feedback mechanisms. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your policies and identify any emerging issues.


How can Insight HR help?

At Insight HR, our employment contracts and staff handbook development service includes consultation, advice and guidance on your organisation’s level of compliance with current legislation. Through a thorough study of your business and its needs, we will help you to develop a robust document that includes everything relevant to your specific industry. At the end, you will receive workable soft copies of employment contracts and employee handbooks that you can edit and add to as you see fit.

Our Employment Contracts and Staff Handbook development service includes:

Organisational Review

Review of existing organisational practice. This involves meeting with key members of your management team to discuss your organisation’s level of compliance with current employment legislation.

Legislation and Compliance

Advice and practical guidance on policies and procedures in order to comply with current employment legislation.


Review of relevant documentation including existing contracts of employment, policies and procedures and any other document relevant to your specific industry. Development of watertight documentation.

Employment Contracts and Staff Handbooks

Provision of a soft copy of the contracts and handbooks and managerial guidelines so you can amend them in-house as necessary.

Get in touch!

So whether it’s reviewing policies, updating contracts and handbooks, providing in-person or online training, or providing on-demand advice via our HR support line, the team here at Insight HR will give you quality, consistent, and tailored service, equipping your organisation with the skills and confidence it needs to succeed in this area.

Our promise to clients, is that they will receive a customised, consistent, and customer-focused service from the team here at Insight HR.

If you’d like to hear more about how we can support you with this, and any other HR challenges you might have, get in touch with us via email at or chat to us directly on 0567701060!

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