The Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007 (“the Act”) has been extended for a further three-year period until 7th May 2016 pursuant to the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007 (Duration of Part 2) Order 2013 (S.I. 153 of 2013).
In essence an exceptional collective redundancy situation arises where the dismissal of employees is collective and compulsory and the dismissed employees are replaced by new workers who perform the same job and tasks but for lower wages. the Act was originally implemented to deal with the “Irish Ferries” case.
The purpose of the Order, S.I. 153 of 2013 is to extend for 3 years (until 7th May 2016), the period for which Part 2 of the Act shall have effect. This Part of the Act allows for case referrals to the Redundancy Panel in instances where proposed redundancies are considered to constitute exceptional collective redundancies as defined above. This Part of the Act also sets out the process and procedure to be followed in pursuing referrals to the Panel below.
The 2007 Act provided for the establishment of a Redundancy Panel which consists of three members, a Chairman and two ordinary members nominated by employee and employer bodies, ICTU and IBEC respectively. The function of the Panel is to deal with collective redundancies to ensure that they are genuine. During the 30 day statutory consultation period, a referral may be made to the Panel by either the employee representative or the employer. The Chairman then invites both parties to make submissions to the Panel and if the Panel decides that the redundancies are “exceptional collective redundancies” as defined, it can request the Minister to refer the matter to the Labour Court. The Labour Court then holds a hearing into the matter and have the power to issue an opinion to the Minister who will then contact the relevant parties.