Electrical contractors fear shutdown under new wage law

Small employers of electrical contractors could be criminalized or lose their business under a law creating a new arrangement to set pay levels and benefits for electricians, the High Court said.

Náisiúnta Leictreach Contraitheor Éireann / National Electrical Contractors of Ireland (Neci) challenged a 2019 Labor Court recommendation to the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to issue a sectoral employment order covering employment rates minimum hourly pay and other matters.

The minister, after approval from the chambers of the Oireachtas, then issued the order.


The High Court, pending a decision on the whole case, suspended part of the minister’s decision regarding the pension contribution and sickness benefit elements of the ordinance. The court denied the suspension of a 2.7 percent wage increase, working time and dispute resolution procedures.

The sectoral employment decree was born following a request from the unions and associations representing electricians.

Neci, which mainly represents small subcontracting employers outside Dublin, calls for a declaration that the labor court has failed in its obligations, especially with regard to the transparency of its decisions, before making the recommendation to the minister .

He asserts that there was a duty to act in accordance with the Constitution and natural justice and that the labor court should have clearly justified its decisions.

The claims are dismissed by the Labor Court, the Irish Minister and the Attorney General.

On the day of the opening of the remote hearing of the case, Helen Callanan SC, for the Neci, said that part of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 replaced the old “contracts of recorded work ”by sectoral employment orders.

There was no oversight role for the Oireachatas in this new regime. It was not primary but secondary legislation as it was recommended by a committee and then passed by the Oireachtas without any input from the Oireachtas afterwards, she said.

“It is a very dangerous situation for employers and employees and we had no idea that the country would be in the middle of a shutdown and these employers cannot cut wages,” she said.


It was different from many other industries, including law and business, where pay had to be cut to reflect the current situation, she said.

The lawyer also said that in the end, if the employer fails or refuses to comply with sectoral employment orders requiring higher payments to employees, they could face up to six months in prison. the continuation of enforcement proceedings which would be brought before the district court. The alternative is to pay the increases and shut down, the lawyer said.

The Neci also claims that the labor court and the minister did not properly follow the procedures set out in the 2015 legislation. The labor court, in issuing the recommendation of the sectoral employment ordinance, drew it up to ‘a way’ that says that we [Neci] don’t count because we don’t have enough employees, ”the lawyer said.

The case continues before Judge Garrett Simons.

Patricia D. Rutt