Employment Law in the Public Sector

Employment Law in the Public Sector

Why this event and why now?

The employment law in Ireland’s public sector is an annual event run by Legal Island and the award-winning Employment Team at ByrneWallace LLP.

On 1st May 2024, we will focus on the key areas of development over the last 12 to 18 months that are of particular importance to public sector employers.

Why is this event important for YOU?

In the public sector, regulatory scrutiny is continual importance, especially concerning employment and industrial relations. As HR professionals, embracing change means being vigilant about evolving employment laws, streamlining procedures, and fostering practices that withstand scrutiny. By doing so, not only do you mitigate risks of legal claims and reputational damage, but you also unlock significant savings in both time and money. 

This event is specifically designed with public sector organisations in mind. The experts from the ByrneWallace LLP Employment Law Team highlight risks and best practice that will help you avoid litigation and save time, money and lots of stress. 

Recognised nationally and internationally as a top tier Irish law firm, ByrneWallace LLP is one of Ireland’s leading advisors to the public sector, advising many government departments, local government, regulatory bodies, and semi-state and public sector organisations including universities, health, education, justice, utilities, environmental, energy, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, marine, culture, transport, tourism and industry bodies. 

For over 50 years, the firm has been advising the public sector on their full range of legal needs, and during this time have developed a deep understanding of the environment in which they work, their key challenges and requirements.  The firm has a strong culture of excellence and accountability, which resonates with the public sector, and invests substantial resources in providing the highest standard of service, insights and advice to meet, anticipate and exceed their clients’ evolving needs. 

After attending you will:

  • Gain an understanding of the most recent and significant employment-related developments relevant to the public sector. 
  • Understand different strategies and potential risks involved in managing employees within public sector workplaces, particularly during the probation period. 
  • Consider recent advancements and changes to the public sector sick leave regime. 
  • Recognise updates on equality legislation in Ireland and their implications for your organisations. 

The aim is for the conference to be as topical as possible and the programme below may change depending on developments in the area of employment law. For example, a Code of Practice on remote working is awaited dealing with the statutory entitlement to request remote work, and this will be covered if published in advance of 1 May 2024. 

Who is it for?

This event is aimed at HR professionals and other persons with an interest in HR and employment law in the public sector and semi-state bodies.

Date & Duration

Registration starts at 8:30am – 9.00am with a light breakfast provided. This event will run from 9.00am and 1:00pm on 1st May 2024.  


ByrneWallace LLP, 88 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin's, Dublin, D02 DK18

Notes & Slides

All notes and slides will be available digitally.


 All speakers will be from the award-winning ByrneWallace LLP Employment Team.


Standard Rate: €395

Early Bird Rate: €345 (ending 20th March, 5pm)

Save €20 when you book and pay online when booking.

In association with:

ByrneWallace LLP Logo





Registration begins 

Light breakfast will be provided 


Welcome and Introduction 

Victoria Smith, Knowledge Partner, Legal Island  


1An overview of recent changes to the public sector sick pay regime. 

Sick leave is an important concern for all public sector bodies, where there are standardised sick leave regulations across the sector. Those regulations have recently been amended, so this is a very good time to consider this issue in detailThis session will provide expert input from ByrneWallace on the management of sick leave in the public sector, specifically dealing with the following issues: 

  • Summary of the main effects of the Public Service Management (Sick Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 SI 407 of 2023. 
  • Discussion about the practical aspects of the management of sick leave in the public sector. 
  • Consideration of interaction between sick leave and reasonable accommodation. 
  • Recent case-law in respect of sick leave and sick pay. 

Speaker: Loughlin Deegan, Partner, ByrneWallace LLP. 




Comfort Break 


2.  Employment Equality: Recent Developments relevant to the public sector 

Employment equality is always a key area for public sector employers, as they aim to become an employer of choice for an increasingly diverse workforceIn this session we will focus on the most important developments in this area, including:  

  • Understanding Disability: Recent developments on defining what constitutes a disability in the workplace, and how to deal with new areas and issues. 
  • Advancements in Reasonable Accommodation: Highlighting the IHEC Code of Practice and recent case law. 
  • Evolving Perspectives on Age Discrimination: With a focus on the continuing developments in the area of retirement ages. 
  • Other key developments of interest to the public sector. 

 Speaker:Michelle Ní Longáin, Partner and Head of Employment Group, ByrneWallace LLP. 




Networking Break 


3. Probation Management: Navigating New Norms in the Talent Battlefield 

The probation period is a critical phase in the employment relationship, serving as the foundation for setting clear expectations and standards. We are just over a year on from the implementation of The European Union (Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions) Regulations 2022, which has significant provisions related to probation periods. This session considers issues in the area for public sector employers, considering the management of new joiners, the management of probationary practices, and addressing new challenges. We will examine: 

  • Navigating Probationary Periods: An overview of the changes brought about by the Regulations and challenges in a public sector setting.  
  • Internal Promotions and Probation: whether and how a probation period applies to employees who are promoted within the organisation.  
  • Extending the probationary period and challenges. 
  • Lessons from recent case law including Whelan v Minister for Transport (High Court, 2023). 
  • Dismissals during probation, challenges and pitfalls, and the relevance of O’Donovan v Over-C (Court of Appeal, 2021). 
  • Other issues to consider in a probation policy in the public sector. 

Speaker: Emmet Whelan, Partner, ByrneWallace LLP. 




Comfort Break 


4.  2024 Employment Case Law Round-Up for the Public Sector 

There have been a number of important cases since our last event in 2023. Here are just a few of the top cases we will cover at this year’s event: 

  • The Supreme Court’s judgment in Revenue Commissioners v Karshan t/a Domino’s Pizza, considering the key question of when an individual qualifies as an employee, as opposed to an independent contractor.  
  • The Supreme Court’s judgment in O’Sullivan v HSE, considering the suspension of a doctor in the context of an investigation process.  
  • The High Court judgment in Gaelscoil Moshíológ v. Labour Court, dealing with a termination of employment in a school context and criticisms of delays in the statutory employment process. 
  • The High Court judgment in ESB v Sharkey, considering the right to silence in an employment investigation process. 

This session will cover the most relevant and important employment cases as of May 2024 for public sector employers and, consequently, the actual cases covered may vary from those currently shown. 

Speaker:  Emmet Whelan, Partner, ByrneWallace LLP. 



Round Up and Acknowledgments  




"The speakers were very knowledgeable, and the structure of the course was excellent."
Stephen Fagan, Executive Officer, Department of Social Protection

"I enjoyed all the presentations! They were very informative. Relevant topics - presentation timings just right!"
Rosaleen Perry, Assistant HR Manager, Property Registration Authority

"Very informative and relevant content."
Owen Martin, HR Manager, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services

"I found the course very useful and the modules and topics excellent. I enjoyed the variety of the topics and how relevant they were to my work in HR."
Gráinne Smyth, Clerical Officer, Office of Public Works

"Very topical and informative. Topics discussed were highly relevant."
Debbie Caffrey, Civilian HR, Dept of Defence

"Very informative and logical presentations. Agile and flexible course structure which aligns well with how we are working currently."
Seán Holly, Head of HR, National Library of Ireland

"Excellent - really enjoyed it, topics were very relevant and excellently communicated. Relevancy of topics and only 1/2 day so was able to focus without worrying about work in the background."
Ashley Harries HR Business Partner National Shared Services Office

"Very well facilitated, kept well to the time schedule. Very well run and informative course."
Sharon Lewis, Executive Officer, HSE

"Excellent course with great content. the presenters were excellent and really informative, worked very well, and the PowerPoint presentations were very good."
Kieran Joyce, Head of HR, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim Education and Training Board

"Very informative and outlined material in an easy-to-follow manner."
Leslie Hamilton , HEO, Department of the Taoiseach

"All topics are very relevant to my job and were very well addressed by the presenters."
Marta Alvarez, Assistant principal Officer, Revenue



  • Emmet Whelan
    Emmet Whelan Partner
    ByrneWallace LLP

    Emmet Whelan is a Partner in the ByrneWallace LLP Employment team. With over ten years’ employment law experience, Emmet advises on all aspects of employment law and in particular specialises in contentious employment matters and employee benefits. Clients include senior executives and large public and private sector employers. 

  • Loughlin Deegan
    Loughlin Deegan Partner
    ByrneWallace LLP

    Loughlin is a Partner in the ByrneWallace LLP Employment team. He represents and advises clients across the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters. He is former chairperson of the Employment and Equality Law Committee of the Law Society of Ireland.

  • Michelle Ní Longáin
    Michelle Ní Longáin Head of Employment Law
    ByrneWallace LLP

    Michelle is a Head of Employment Law at ByrneWallace LLP and is the firm's Compliance Partner. She is also Head of the firm’s Public Sector Group. She has extensive experience in employment, equality and administrative law. Michelle qualified as a solicitor in Northern Ireland, practising there in employment and equality law from 1994 before moving to England and Wales in 1996 and returning to Ireland in 1999 when she joined the firm. Michelle advises public and private sector clients, primarily employers, on complex areas of employment, equality and administrative law.

Event details


9.15am - 1.00pm


01 May 2024


ByrneWallace LLP, 88 Harcourt St, Saint Kevin's, Dublin, D02 DK18


Standard Rate: €395

*Save an additional €20 when you book and pay online at the time of booking.