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Employment Equality


The Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011 cover employees in both the public and private sectors as well as applicants for employment and training.

The Acts outlaw discrimination in work-related areas such as pay, vocational training, access to employment, work experience and promotion. Cases involving harassment and victimisation at work are also covered by the Acts. The publication of discriminatory advertisements and discrimination by employers, vocational training bodies and employment agencies, e.g. trades unions and employer associations, is outlawed. Collective agreements may be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission for mediation or investigation.

The nine grounds on which discrimination is outlawed by the Employment Equality Acts are as follows:
GenderCivil statusFamily status
Sexual orientationReligious beliefAge
DisabilityRace, colour, nationality, ethnic or national originsMembership of the Traveller community

The Acts also prohibit victimisation or discrimination against a person on the basis of association with another person, providing support to the person, being named as a comparator, acting as a witness on behalf of that other person, or who has given notice of an intention to take any such actions.

Information relating to discrimination in certain circumstances is available on the individual tabs above.

Further detailed information in relation to Employment Equality is available from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) on

You may view or download the relevant Acts or Statutory Instruments (SI's) on the links below.

The Employment Equality Acts include -

Employment Equality Act, 1998
Equality Act 2004
Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011
Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015

A 'Restated and Revised' version of the Employment Equality Acts (which brings together all amendments and changes in a single text) is available from the Law Reform Commission or can be accessed at the following link Employment Equality Act 1998..

Other Acts:
Pensions Act, 1990
Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004

Statutory Instruments:
SI 208 of 2012 - Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012
SI 321 of 1999 - Employment Equality Act, 1998 (Section 76 - Right To Information) Regulations, 1999

What is a Collective Agreement?

In cases where an employer recognises a trade union or a group of unions, it is common to engage in collective bargaining to negotiate agreements. A collective agreement is one made by or on behalf of an employer and a representative trade union which governs pay and/or other conditions of employment.

Under section 9 of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2011, any provision in a collective agreement or other order which discriminates on any of the nine grounds may be declared null and void. This includes an agreement which results in a discriminatory difference in pay.

The agreements and orders which may be challenged are: collective agreements, Employment Regulation Orders (made by the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Acts) and registered employment agreements. A person who is affected by such an agreement or order can refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. Under s.86 of the Acts, the Commission may refer a complaint of this kind to mediation, if the parties do not object, or can investigate and issue a decision. The statutory remedy provided is that a provision which is found to be discriminatory shall be declared null and void, and consequently no longer possesses legal effect. The Commission may, if it thinks it appropriate, advise on how a non-discriminatory replacement provision could be framed.

What are Occupational Pensions?

Occupational pensions are, broadly speaking, pensions established by an employer for employees (as distinct from ones provided by the State through the social security system).

They are not covered by the Employment Equality Act 1998-2011, and are covered instead by Part VII of the Pensions Act 1990 as amended by the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004,

With effect from 5th April 2004, it is unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly in relation to occupational pensions on any of the nine protected grounds as listed below.

GenderCivil statusFamily status
Sexual orientationReligious beliefAge
DisabilityRace, colour, nationality, ethnic or national originsMembership of the Traveller community

All claims of discrimination in occupational pensions are dealt with by the Workplace Relations Commission, which may refer to the Pensions Board if it so wishes for technical advice on pension matters.

You may also wish to click on the following link in our Codes of Practice section relating to the Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012