Are you involved in the horse racing industry?
If you are you will probably be aware of Aidan O’Brien’s problems with the WRC (Workplace Relations Commission) and then the Labour Court concerning breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.(You can read about those cases here).
O’Brien’s argument in those cases was that his workers should be considered workers involved in ‘agriculture’ because if this argument was accepted then the workers would be exempt from certain sections (11, 12, and 13) of the Organisation of Working Tim Act 1997 pursuant to the S.I. No. 21/1998 – Organisation of Working Time (General Exemptions) Regulations, 1998.
The exemptions arising from the 1998 regulations applied to:
|1. An activity in which the employee is regularly required by the employer to travel distances of significant length, either from his or her home to the workplace or from one workplace to another workplace.|
|2. An activity of a security or surveillance nature the purpose of which is to protect persons or property and which requires the continuous presence of the employee at a particular place or places, and, in particular, the activities of a security guard, caretaker or security firm.|
|3. An activity falling within a sector of the economy or in the public service—|
|(a) in which it is foreseeable that the rate at which production or the provision of services, as the case may be, takes place will vary significantly from time to time,|
|(b) the nature of which is such that employees are directly involved in ensuring the continuity of production or the provision of services, as the case may be,|
|and, in particular, any of the following activites—|
|(i) the provision of services relating to the reception, treatment or care of persons in a residential institution, hospital or similar establishment,|
|(ii) the provision of services at a harbour or airport,|
|(iii) production in the press, radio, television, cinematographic, postal or telecommunications industries,|
|(iv) the provision of ambulance, fire and civil protection services,|
|(v) the production, transmission or distribution of gas, water or electricity,|
|(vi) the collection of household refuse or the operation of an incineration plant,|
|(vii) any industrial activity in which work cannot, by reason of considerations of a technical nature, be interrupted,|
|(viii) research and development,|
Neither the WRC nor the Labour Court accepted this argument and O’Brien appealed the case to the Civil Courts.
This problem had arisen as a consequence of the Industrial Relations
(Amendment) act 2015 defining ‘agriculture’ as
|(a) (i) the production of animals, including the production of meat and other animal produce intended for human consumption,|
|(ii) the sorting and packing of meat and other animal produce, and|
|(iii) the production, sorting, and packing of crops, including fruit and vegetables, intended for human or animal consumption,|
|on farm land (within the meaning of section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 ), and|
|(b) horticulture, including market gardening, garden nurseries and nursery grounds;”|
This was not of much use to racehorse training or breeding as it refers to ‘the production of animals’ but excluded, for the first time, the training of animals.
19th December, 2018 Regulation
On 19th December, 2018 a new Regulation was signed into law, EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ORGANISATION OF WORKING TIME) (GENERAL EXEMPTIONS) (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 2018 This regulation had only one purpose:
These Regulations clarify that the term “agriculture” in the Schedule to the Organisation of Working Time (General Exemptions) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 21 of 1998), includes, inter alia, “the caring for or the rearing or the breeding or training of racehorses” for the purpose of those Regulations.
This means that the exemptions from certain sections of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 now apply to workers who are engaged in the “the caring for or the rearing or the breeding or training of racehorses”.