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Women in Construction

Monday March 8th marked international women’s day. As the construction industry is a predominately male industry, we wanted to highlight the importance females in the Irish construction industry. Belinda O’Brien has worked for Sherlock Recruitment and is a passionate electrician who has worked in the construction industry for the past 14 years. We reached out to Belinda to talk to her about her experience as a woman in the industry. “I’m so fortunate to have found my passion in life and enjoy what I do. I have great variety in my job from the tasks to meeting new people and different locations. We need to encourage more women to take up apprenticeships. More than ever now, especially with the lack of apprentices in the trades, we need you.”

(Pictured above: Belinda O’Brien)

Studies have shown that women count less than 10% of the workforce is made up of women and just 1% of the workers on building sites. 70% of the construction companies in Ireland have recognized the need for more women in the industry. Last year the Construction Industry Federation launched a campaign to try and increase the presence of women on site. Ireland is currently battling a housing crisis and having more women decide to undertake a career in Communications Director with the CIF, Shane Dempsey admits that it is vital to find a way to do so, he says, “We really have a journey to travel to build equality in the construction industry and it’s imperative we do because we’ll need an additional 100,000 workers over the next three to four years to deliver on the commitments in the Governments housing strategy and in its infrastructure strategy. We need to be recruiting females and males into the industry, so we have to challenge a number of stereotypes.”

Hopefully Belinda’s story and international women’s day will have encouraged some women to pursue a career in construction industry.

Sherlock’s response to COVID-19


Sherlock’s Response to COVID-19

The COVID- 19 Pandemic has had a profound impact on the Irish Construction and Engineering industry both from an economic and regulatory perspective with many projects delayed or cancelled. As well as this, there have been many changes to regulations within the industry especially on site. Here at Sherlock, the health and safety of our employees has been of utmost importance throughout these uncertain times

Friday March 27th saw the Irish Taoiseach at the time, Leo Varadkar order Ireland into its first lockdown. An email was sent to members of the CIF on Saturday March 28th telling them to begin shut down of all non-essential sites and projects immediately unless the site was directly related to combatting COVID-19.

The majority of the workforce were sent home, many temporarily laid off unsure of when and if they would return to work and placed on the Emergency COVID-19 Pandemic unemployment payment of €350 a week and all money and payments frozen on projects. This saw many of the construction/trades & labour force sent home and put on this emergency payment, including employees in Sherlock. This said there were a portion of our staff bravely working on essential sites across the country on waste management, food processing and student accommodation jobs.

The Construction/Engineering sector was one of the first big industries to reopen on May 18th during phase 1 giving it a head start compared to many sectors in Ireland who had to wait until later phases to reopen. This was great news for everyone here at Sherlock. The CIF released a “Construction Sector C-19 Pandemic Standard Operating Procedures” document detailing all regulatory changes necessary to safely commence work in the Construction and Engineering Industry before phase 1 planned for May 18th. All of Sherlocks on site employees must now complete a mandatory CIF COVID-19 induction before entering a site.

Of course, not all construction/engineering sector work is carried out onsite and so there were regulatory changes to the office side of this industry also. We have seen the government continue to ask that people work from home where possible. Strict adherence to social distancing and a mandatory 2-meter rule must be in place in office spaces. Staggered breaks and “days in/days home” schedules are being seen to limit the interaction of people in the workplace. Unless it is “absolutely necessary”, face to face meetings are not allowed to take place and where possible should be conducted virtually. During our working from home phase we, like many others used the platform “Zoom” to stay in touch.

Our remote meetings via Zoom:

Initially all of our office staff worked from home which was challenging but we as a team worked together and did our best like we always do. Our return to the office was nothing like we left it back in March. We work in accordance with industry/government advice and so only 2 people are allowed in the kitchen at the one time, face coverings are worn by staff, employees are all spaced 2 meters apart and staff work on a rotating office/remote schedule.

Thankfully we have over 6 years of successful business behind us which allowed us to prevail through these uncertain times. Our team is now more flexible, adaptable and stronger than we ever could have imagined compared to pre-COVID times. We are better able to tackle any obstacles that may come our way and are confident in the future of Sherlock Recruitment and the construction/engineering industry.

New High Court Ruling- SEO Wage Legislation Deemed  Unconstitutional- Sherlock Recruitment


New High Court Ruling- SEO Wage Legislation Deemed  Unconstitutional- Sherlock Recruitment 

This week saw the High Court rule on an existing SEO (Sectorlal employment Order). The SEO currently in place provides for set minimum pay and conditions for several workers primarily in the trades and labour sector.  The SEO fixes legally binding minimum rates of pay and employment conditions including a sick pay scheme and pension contributions for all employers in the sector – including those who had not been party to the negotiations. 

The challenge to the SEO was brought to the high courts by members of the National Electrical Contractors of Ireland (NECI) who represent small to medium-sized electrical firms across the country. They stated that the SEO breached their rights and was unconstitutionalThey had challenged both the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, and a 2019 Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the electrical contracting sector made under the legislation.  

Their argument was that the employer and union bodies that negotiated the SEO were not “substantially representative” of the sector and raised issues about competitiveness and how the economic sector was defined. NECI stated that SEO will have implications for small and medium-sized electrical contractors, and the potential anti-competitive effect of fixing a minimum wage for electricians.   

Mr Justice Simons ruled “A decision to impose mandatory minimum terms and conditions of employment across an entire economic sector necessitates making difficult policy choices. This is because the consequences of making a sectoral employment order are so far-reaching, and the interests of the principal stakeholders, namely, the employers, workers and consumers; are not necessarily aligned. The fixing of high rates of renumeration might well be welcomed by workers, but may limit competition, and thus adversely affect consumers,” Going on to declare provisions of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 to be unconstitutional, thereby rendering the Sectoral Employment Orders invalid. 

The ruling means many particularly lower paid employees will only have a legal entitlement to the National Minimum Wage and basic statutory protections, rather than the  sectoral minimum rates and conditions established through the SEO. 

Arron Sherlock, of Sherlock recruitment, a leading supplier of trades and labour across the sector said This ruling comes at time of great turmoil already inflicted on the sector by the Covid Crisis . The judgment will have serious implications for tens of thousands of workers and businesses across the state the full ramifications of which we will only understand in the coming months.’  

This decision will be welcome for many employers in the electrical contracting sector given the extent of the employment terms prescribed in the SEO. However, a note of caution for employers in terms of the non application of the SEO as a result of the decision, as this may be the subject of an appeal. As such, we recommend employers to keep a close eye on developments and to take advice as may be necessary. 

Sherlock Recruitment is a leading force of outsourced staffing solutions to the electrical, mechanical and construction industry and will remain committed to support both employers and employees while these issues are ironed out by the courts and relevant representatives.  

If you have any questions or would like some advice or guidance on staffing matters, don’t hestitate to contact our offices  

Office – 01 4568438   




How to exit the COVID crisis on a stronger footing


Sherlock works with a number of small to medium-sized companies, many that were scaling rapidly and will use our services to increase site staff on a project basis.  The COVID crisis has hit them the hardest. Steve Bowcott CEO of John Sisk & Son recently expressed his concern about how the Irish Construction Industry has changed irreversibly and is predicted to slow down by as much as 30%  in the upcoming year.  A large number of our clients will have limited resources to buffer the cash flow and expense issues that are on the horizon, many of them are having sleepless nights wondering how they are going to be able to cut costs at work while still maintaining productivityWhat happens if we are thrown into lockdown again?   Increasing profit margins doesn’t come cheap. There are financial and non-financial costs of doing so. So how can finance, operations and business managers afford them as the healthcare crisis gives way to a rapidly approaching economic one? 

The hard truth is that the majority of businesses in Ireland have had to let go of staff since COVID-19 reached our shores. Cutting labour costs is always one way of maintaining profit margins in a crisis. Of course, other factors such as redundancy costs (particularly now that the 60% government rebate is gone), inventory, logistics, rent and lower revenue all impact profit margins. 

Letting staff go, cutting wages, renegotiating rent and new credit terms for inventory can only continue for so long before we need to get a little bit more creative in order to stay ahead of competitors.  

Interestingly there study done by American giant Costco that was published in the  Harvard Business Review revealing that the foundation of their success, year after year, crisis after crisis, was due to low staff turnover rates. Harvard found that Costco’s staff turnover rates (of first-year employees) were less than 10% compared to the industry average of 65%. 

An often-overlooked risk in a downturn comes when employers least expect it – the recovery stage. Why? Because our best staff, those we strategically kept during the crisis, tend to leave quickly for another company during the recovery period. 

This churn has been attributed to several root causes: 

  • Natural risks of a bad hire. 
  • Those highly skilled people that bought into the “start-up dream” tend to retreat back to the multinationals.
  • Your employees haven’t been exposed to other companies’ management responses to the crisis and therefore ‘the grass is (somewhat) greener’ 
  • They are unsure of their current employers’ sustainability either because they have been continuously exposed to recurring bad news or because of lack of hope, due to the lack of communication from leaders expressing their own hope, future strategies and sustainability plans. 
  • The wage cuts that were imposed during the crises were higher than industry and/or competitor averages. 
  • Economically, there are more jobs available in a recovering economy. ‘New climate, new job’. 
  • Naturally, burnout is higher in businesses during a crisis.  
  • Many of their critical teammates could have been made redundant and they are expected to pick up the slack. 

There are so many reasons why employee churn can increase in the recovery phase and employers should expect some great staff to leave.  As construction planners, of course, you must consider the liquidity risks when the wage subsidy scheme comes to an end and future revenue. But as business people, you must consider the blindside risk of higher staff turnover post lockdown on top of potentially further short-term redundancy decisions which also bring redundancy costs and lost opportunities.  

Many SMEs are under a lot of stress right now, but it’s important not to be too focused on the short term –  Warned Mary Connaughton of the CIPD, a professional body for HR professionals (The Sunday Times, June 7, 2020). 

In order to avoid these costs and more, you need to communicate your company’s plans for the future including its financial and operational sustainability in order to keep your existing team tight and staff turnover low. But more importantly, it’s time to look at your numbers and consider alternative ways to improve profit margins in ways your competitors are not. 

The Harvard report noted Costco’s low staff turnover rates was due, in part, to the higher wages and company benefits they offer their staff compared to Walmart – their biggest competitor. Despite this, Forbes also found that Costco offers the smallest markups on their products at 15% or less, compared with 25% for supermarkets and 50% for department stores.  

So, how does retaining high labour costs and lower markups translate into higher profit margins? By spending less on hiring and recruiting. 

According to a recent HR Barometer report, the average cost of recruiting a replacement employee in Ireland is 37% of their salary. With an average salary in Ireland sitting at €39,000, that’s roughly €14,430 to replace an employee, on average. 

Taking a hypothetical example, if the average cost to replace an employee in your business today is €14,430 but only €10,000 for a competitor (because they continued to cut wages further), it looks like your competitors win. Based on a company size of 100 people, if you keep your staff turnover rate at 11% (Ireland’s average) and 11 employees hand in their notice in the weeks/months following a crisis but your competitors have double the number that leaves (22% – for reasons outlined earlier), your cost of turnover will be €158,730 compared to your competitors, €220,000.  

The most impactful point made in the Harvard Business Review study is the amount of revenue Costco made per employee compared to Walmart though. Costco earned $43 billion in 2005 compared with $37 billion for Walmart and with 38% less hiring. That translates to “$21,805 in U.S. operating profit per hourly employee, compared with $11,615 at Walmart”.  

Therefore, Costco generated almost twice the revenue per employee than its closest competitor. Perhaps you risk liquidity issues and can’t offer the high wages that Costco does, but you can improve your hiring, communicate and plan more effectively to ensure your team is the best to begin with. Adding to this you can reduce your risk to hire further by Utilising a service such a Sherlock’s for long term projects, temporary to permanent hires or simple to gain access to highly-skilled, qualified trades and labour who are very happy working on projects and remain working for Sherlock as they are moved to their next assignment or project and they stick together through good times and bad. This will improve your operations and increase your operating profit in a way that is often overlooked.  

Similar to COVID-19, staff attrition is a silent killer. It pushes your costs up, pushes your margins down and throws your ability to capture opportunities in a changed market out the window. 

You need to hire a strong team and you need that team to deliver quickly and effectively and to reduce your risk of hire because you want them to stay in good times and bad. When it comes to significantly reducing your staff turnover, cutting your hiring costs and improving your profit margins, a trusted staffing solutions provider like Sherlock can help you do this in ways your competitors are overlooking.  

Don’t have the time to plan? Well at Sherlock we work closely with our clients in a consultative manner, with in-depth industry knowledge and site management procedures we can project manage and plan your project as you need it. Walso provide no-obligation consultations for non-clients as well who need to understand the playing field better, providing you with a roadmap to keep your business on track.  You can contact our account manager anytime in relation to your people strategy. 

Where you can, hold on to your existing team by offsetting some of the common reasons people leave a company post-crisis that I mentioned earlier. Remind them of their value, acknowledge their contributions and don’t just assume that they are grateful for not being fired. Communicate your future strategy and sustainability. 

Instead of planning for your next round of redundancies, you should start speaking to Sherlock to start contingency planning for when key people leave in a recovery. Make sure you have teams of people who are ready to step in. You don’t want to be faced with redundancy costs and staff turnover costs in recovery. Avoid the herd mentality of further redundancies in the short term as you may be hit with staff turnover costs soon. Rather keep the staff you have, and bring on extra staff risk-free through Sherlock while developing your pipeline of project workers.  When your competitors keep cutting wages and make redundancies, be the industry outlier by spotting the financial opportunities that exist with a good hiring and people strategy.  

Spend less on hiring and recruiting. Fast efficient hiring with a trusted recruitment partner with a long history of success and in-depth industry knowledge will result in better hires, lower staff turnover and an improved employer brand, as well as higher productivity. Taken together, or independently, these inputs will ultimately improve your profit margins significantly and put more time in your busy schedule. 

Working with Sherlock, whether it’s for your contract / temporary recruitment or your permanent recruitment will become a new competitive advantage for your business when it comes to increasing your profit margins in ways you might not have considered before as we return to work post the COVID-19 lockdown. 



Returning To Work Safely

A ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol‘ has been prepared to assist employers in implementing measures to protect their employees. The protocol is a live document which will be updated regularly, and should be used by all employers to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply with the Covid-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19. They should therefore be cautious about making long-term commitments to employees and make clear that any return to work measures will continue to be reviewed and adapted in accordance with evolving government guidance.

The protocol advises that, in preparation for returning to work, employers should:

  • appoint at least one clearly identifiable lead worker representative charged with ensuring that Covid-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their place of work. Individuals undertaking this role must receive the necessary training and have a structured framework to follow within the organisation to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus;
  • consult with workers and safety representatives on safety measures to be implemented;
  • provide a Covid-19 training induction for all workers;
  • develop or update their Covid-19 response plan. This should include any updates to health and safety risk assessments and safety statement as discussed below;
  • keep a log of any group work in order to facilitate contract tracing;
  • develop or amend policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of workers who develop symptoms of Covid-19;
  • develop, consult, communicate and implement workplace changes or policies with workers to include a response plan to deal with suspected cases of Covid-19 in the workplace and what to do if a worker displays symptoms during work hours; and
  • implement Covid-19 prevention and control measures to minimise risk to workers including a pre-return to work form for workers to complete at least three days in advance of return, any controls identified in the risk assessment such as staggered breaks, social distancing and physical barriers, and temperature testing in line with public health advice.

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19.

Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority will oversee compliance with the protocol in the workplace. HSA inspectors will visit the workplace and advise on any shortcomings through a Report of Inspection, which is left with the employer at the end of the visit and can include timelines and follow-ups needed. The inspectors also have the power to serve an Improvement Notice, a legal directive from an inspector requiring that certain improvements be carried out in a specified time-frame, or a Prohibition Notice, a legal instruction directing that a specified work activity be stopped.

The CIF has published checklists and templates to help employers, business owners and managers to get their businesses up and running again, and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The CIF also provides critical C-19 training that should be taken by every employee returning to work.

Employers’ health and safety obligations

Employers in Ireland have a number of legal duties under health and safety law, including:

  • duty to protect the health, as well as safety, of their employees;
  • duty to protect others who may be exposed to health risks as a result of the employer’s activities, including members of the public, service users and contractors; and
  • duty to manage safety risks from workplaces under the employer’s control.

As a result, protecting the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace as they return to work will be paramount for employers.

Employers, in conjunction with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, should:

  • keep up to date with the latest public health guidance, local government advice and World Health Organisation (WHO) updates, and communicate these to employees. The HSA has helpful guidance for employers on its website, which is frequently being updated;
  • conduct a risk assessment on health and safety before any return to the workplace, and put in place relevant measures to ensure the health and safety of employees in line with health and safety law and guidance and HSE guidance. The assessment should cover risks posed by premises, working conditions and the composition of the workplace. For example, workstations may need to be moved to ensure there is a 2m distance between workers;
  • communicate clearly and early with employees on your plans to reopen and any new policies you wish to introduce. Consider providing guidance and establishing protocols on any workplace measures to be adopted;
  • brief line managers and HR staff on company policy, using an FAQ guidance document. Ensure there is a consistent message to all employees on the process and company policy;
  • assess who will return, bearing in mind that the greater the number of people who enter the workplace the greater the risk. Careful consideration will need to be given to how to select which employees are to return to work or to come off lay-off, bearing in mind issues such as potential discrimination and procedural fairness. Some employees may not want to return to work due to caring responsibilities or for health reasons, and consideration should be given as to whether these employees can continue to work from home or remain on temporary lay-off, where applicable;
  • consider working hours and arrangements, which may include ways to limit the number of staff commuting at peak travel hours or staggering start and end times to minimise the risk of infection – for example, creating two cohorts with half the department working from home and half in the office each day in order to balance operations with practical measures. If contractual working hours need to be changed, consult with the employees and get their consent prior to any changes taking affect;
  • display HSE posters around the workplace to raise awareness of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19;
  • keep up to date with the latest guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees must be given the correct PPE and work equipment for their job if they are required to come into work. Employers should also ensure that they have adequate stocks of PPE, and may need to consider what other measures to put in place if the supply of PPE is disrupted;
  • put in place practical measures to support those on site such as hand washing facilities, additional hand sanitiser stations, antibacterial wipes and appropriate signage, and check and re-stock these regularly;
  • organise for work areas and frequently-touched surfaces to be cleaned at regular intervals;
  • consider whether canteens, gyms and other staff facilities should re-open, bearing in mind that there may be contractual commitments in outsourced contracts requiring facilities to be open if the building is in use;
  • continue to reduce to the absolute minimum or cancel non-essential business travel and encourage employees to conduct meetings via video conferencing software. Where this is not possible, provide additional guidance on essential business travel and the expectations of the company in order to ensure employees have sufficient guidance;
  • assess the risks around third parties entering the workplace, as there is a legal obligation to ensure their health and safety;
  • whether or not an employer recognises a trade union, early engagement on its plans with employees should help ensure understanding or cooperation. Union engagement may be required where changes to working hours and other terms and conditions are needed, although agreement or consent to any changes will be required regardless of union presence. More generally, unions and staff representative bodies may help to communicate guidance to employees and provide a route for them to raise questions or concerns;
  • where employees and contractors are required to complete questionnaires on recent travel and health information, third parties should also complete these before entering the premises. Employers must ensure any questionnaires are compliant with data protection legislation;
  • consider whether any employees can work from home. If they can, the employer should satisfy itself that it is a safe place of work. The HSA has issued guidance for employers to understand their duties in relation to home workers.

As the easing-in period continues, larger construction projects are staggering the number of workers on site. From the reopening date a site previously with 70 workers may start back with just 40 to ensure physical distancing of 2m between people gradually building up to 50 then 60 etc. 

We understand the sector is chomping at the bit to get going again as so many projects will need to be finished, timelines have changed which has a major knock-on effect, and costs are still to be calculated. But despite the desire to get back into full swing the construction sector is putting safety first. The good news is that Ireland is picking itself up and seems to be doing it in a controlled, sensible and well-managed manner. 

If it becomes necessary to close the premises, official advice should be followed and a cooperative approach adopted. Site owners should bear in mind that health and safety inspectors have powers to prohibit access to premises.

If you need more advice or insight into what you can do as an employer Speak to the team at Sherlock Recruitment, 01 4568438, www.sherlockrecruitment.com


Irish Skills Shortage – Sector Under Pressure


Ireland Construction Industry is facing a skills shortage

MMD (Mitchel Mcdermott) recently released a report highlighting some serious challenges the Irish construction industry are facing. It says construction output grew by 12% last year, but the number of workers only grew by 4%. This is a very real challenge, for anyone doing business in the sector, without the people to build the houses, offices and hospitals we aren’t going to get very far and critical targets won’t be met.

As Sherlock is a specialised staffing and recruitment organisation we are acutely aware of the potential threat the skills shortage brings both to us and to our clients. This is something that we tackled in an earlier post last year. It’s only January and already we are getting calls that projects are being delayed due to staff or missing critical skills. This is a worrying trend that doesn’t show any signs of abating.
Paul Mitchell, one of the authors of the report, predicted output would increase by a further 10% this year to over €25bn.  “Output is outstripping our already constrained supply chain, and this is a worrying trend going forward. In fact, demand is at levels of constraint similar to the Celtic Tiger, especially in Dublin,” he said.

The implications of a skills shortages will be to rapidly push the cost of builds up. The study suggested that an office building costing €20 million to build in 2015 would cost €25 million at the beginning of 2020, an increase of 26 per cent. Mitchell went on to say “Given the constraints in the sector, the key question is who will build these units? We estimate up to 30,000 additional workers would be required to reach that level of output,” he said. This was reinforced further by The CIF who believes the sector will require 100,000 more workers in the coming years.

These are very real industry challenges and is exactly the space that Sherlock operates in, on a daily basis. Work with the leading Tier 1 contractors and engineers across the country and Europe on some the of the biggest builds in the country, the cost of delays is paramount to all our clients big or small. One of the primary reason’s people use our service is due to our focused skills set and national reach. We have developed a network of over 40 000 skilled tradesmen, operatives and support staff across all sectors of the construction industry. If you are planning any builds over the coming years you want to speak to Sherlock. Not only will we be able to provide you with the right staff at the right time, but we will work with you to manage your staffing costs and will reduce all the stress involved in staff management to a single weekly invoice.

Working with an organisation like Sherlock that is as established in the sector as Sherlock means you have a viable resource to control costs, to mitigate risk exposure and ensure that you have the skills and staff that you need to keep your projects on track.

Looking for a solution? Speak to our industry experts today:


Want to know more about who we are and what we do- www.sherlockrecruitment.com





Tackling Construction Staff Shortages the Sherlock Way

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The CSO’s Latest Report Highlights New Challenges

This week the Central Statistics Office released together with the figures from the latest Labour Force Survey which highlighted how the Irish economy continues to boom. These reports showed a record 2.3 million people were employed in the Irish economy in the second quarter of 2019. What this means is that it was the 28th consecutive quarter of annual employment growth since 2012, reflecting a remarkable turnaround since the low point of the crash.

As encouraging as these figures are being almost at full working status poses a real challenge for people who are desperately looking to hire/ recruit, especially as the building has started to increase again this quarter. The challenge this poses for recruiters, Site Managers, HR Managers is to source candidates who are available. Where are they sourcing the staff?

Sherlock is a leading supplier of quality staff and faces this challenge on a daily basis. We are also now recruiting for a huge increase in demand and pipeline of business coming up into 2020. We have clients with requirements for some major sites in Leixlip, Dundalk and Central Dublin and will have to be ahead of the game to source and find the top quality candidates for our clients that they expect from us.

To ensure we have access to the greatest number of potential candidates, we use an omnichannel approach to sourcing. This is a modern strategy for challenging times, one that utilises social media and online sources to get in front of the right candidate at the right time.  Adding to this, we have also grown one of Ireland’s largest databases of vetted, qualified tradespeople in the country. This is a database who we communicate with daily and work with to help them develop their own pipeline of projects coming through. This means we know where they are going to be and when. We know which waves of tradespeople are busy completing their stage of a project and would be available for the next and work with them to roll over to the next site. This kind of insight and bespoke management of clients and candidates is what has positioned Sherlock as a leader in our field. The clients that we work with appreciate having access to this kind of information as they can plan their projects carefully to maximise their workforce and the agencies efficacy. Candidates love working with us because we take care of them and we can provide them with weekly information and consistent work that develops their jobs skill set and keeps them growing in their careers.

If you want to know more about how Sherlock can assist you to manage your staffing requirements on site don’t hesitate to call us on +353 1 45 68438 or email us: marketing@sherlockrecruitment.com

Construction Rate Increase

Rate Increase in 2019

The construction rate increase has been on Sherlock’s radar since April of this year; then it seems we barely blinked and it’s happening. The minimum rates of pay for workers in the construction sector are set to rise by 5.4% while rates in the electrical sector will increase by 2.7%.

Workers in the construction sector will be the first to receive the 5.4% increase effect in two stages – the first 2.7% increase will apply from October 1 until September 30, 2020, while the second will run from October 1, 2020.

  • ‘Craft people’, which includes: bricklayers, joiners, painters and plasterers amongst others will see their basic hourly rate rise to €19.44 (Oct 2019) and on up to €19.96 (Oct 2020).
  • For ‘Category A’ workers – including the likes of scaffolders, steel fixers and crane drivers, the minimum will rise to €18.86 (Oct 2019) and on up to €19.37 (Oct 2020).
  • ‘Category B’ workers minimum rate will rise to €17.50 (Oct 2019) and then up to €17.97(Oct 2020). They are skilled general operatives who have worked in the sector for more than two years.
  • ‘New entrants’ into the sector will see their minimum rate rise to €14.14 (Oct 2019) and then up to €14.52 (Oct 2020).
  • Apprentices will see their rate rise in line with the craft rate – they get 33% of the craft rate in year one up to 90% in year 4.

In the electrical sector:

  1. Category 1 workers’ minimum rates will rise to €23.49
  2. Category 2 will rise to €23.96
  3. Category 3 will rise to €24.34.

With the minimum apprentice rates in the sector ranging from €7.05 to €18.80

Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs) are legally binding on the sectors to which they apply, and their provisions are enforceable by the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Small Firms Association said that due to the current high demand for people on-site that this new rate increase will negatively affect smaller tradesmen, “Due to the high demand for tradesmen on building sites across the country, service providers in the construction and electrical sector are finding it difficult to compete against these labour rates, and to retain and attract tradesmen,” said SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens.

At Sherlock, we have always paid the legal rate to our staff working on-site, and we will be increasing their current rate in accordance with the national increase.

If you are worried about what impact this will have, we are here to cater for any questions as each agreement is bespoke to each client, we recommend getting in touch with your Account Manager directly:

Construction: Danny Gambarana – danny@sherlockrecruitment.com

Mechanical: Elaine Marron – Engineering@sherlockrecruitment.com

Electrical: Dave McCoy- David@sherlockrecruitment.com







The Changing Face of Ireland’s Construction Industry

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The Construction Industry’s Landscape is Changing Fast

As cranes spread across the skyline of every major city in the country and news of new large-scale developments emerge daily, one thing is certain – we are back building. And with this increased demand comes increased pressure to find talent for our sites. To its own detriment, the construction industry has notoriously been among the slowest to embrace change. The sector has had a reputation for exclusivity, ‘old-school’ approaches and rigid practices, which has proven to be a barrier for applicants from diverse backgrounds and a deterrent for many young people choosing careers in construction. Recently, we have seen the industry embrace a more diverse workforce, propelled by a high demand for talent and skilled labour. The pool from which we source talent becomes incredibly limited if we restrict our scope and in the current climate, we can’t afford to be exclusive of any good, quality workers.

The industry is working hard to entice new, talented workers onto sites and are making an effort to appeal to people from all backgrounds. Many major companies have identified this issue and have incorporated diversity initiatives into their corporate missions – to show that viable career options exist for everyone. Recruiting from outside the regular pool of candidates is the best option to alleviate the high demand that we are facing in the current Building Boom, and it’s proven to be a more successful choice than anyone would have thought. A recent article on Independent.ie outlines the success that’s come from hiring women and older candidates to fill machine operative roles. It’s a solution that has helped to ease demand while bringing a diverse group of people with new and different insights and experiences to our sites.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) launched their #BuildingEquality campaign in 2018 with the aim of debunking the commonly held belief that the industry is ‘just for boys.’ The female presence in the Irish construction industry has become more prominent in recent years, however, women still only count for 6% of the industry’s workforce. We’ve seen an influx in female applicants for roles, from dumper drivers to storewomen, so we predict this figure is only going to grow.

This industry is undergoing extreme growth and the face of construction in Ireland is diversifying and changing fast. Sherlock Recruitment are highly aware of the trends occurring in the sector and the increasing need for skilled talent. We are known for never compromising on the quality of staff, our extensive database of qualified tradespeople and finding the most suitable candidates for every role. With Sherlock Recruitment, your sites will always be a safe and diverse place for your workforce.

Rates Increase for 2019

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Some of the biggest news to hit the construction industry in Ireland in the last week has got to be the pending rate increase

Sherlock recruitment has been keeping a close eye on the progression of the Union’s bid for an increase over the past few months and have written previously on the topic. It is now official, and Minister of State Pat Breen has approved two recommendations from the Labour Court for new minimum pay rates.

The last sector-wide pay increase for construction workers was implemented in October 2017. The latest increase of basic hourly rates of pay will apply from October 1st 2019 and last through to September 30th 2020.

The following basic hourly rates of pay will apply in the sector from 1st October 2019 to 30th September 2020:

Craftsperson’s €19.44 per hour Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers.

Category A Worker €18.86 per hour Scaffolders who hold an Advanced Scaffolding Card and who have four years’ experience; Banks operatives, Steel Fixers; Crane Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators.

Category B Worker €17.50 per hour Skilled General Operatives who have worked in the sector for more than 2 years.

New Entrant Operative Workers €14.14 per hour To apply for 2 years to new entrant operative workers over the age of 18 years and entering the sector for the first time.

Apprenticeship and other craftsmen rates will change as such:

Apprentice Year 1 33.3% of Craft rate
Apprentice Year 2 50% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 3 75% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 4 90% of Craft Rate

Craftsperson €19.96 per hour Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers.

Category A Worker €19.37 per hour Scaffolders who hold an Advanced Scaffolding Card and who have four years’ experience; Banks operatives, Steel Fixers; Crane Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators.

Category B Worker €17.97 per hour Skilled General Operatives who have worked in the sector for more than 2 years.

New entrant operative workers €14.52 To apply for 2 years to new entrant operative workers over the age of 18 years and entering the sector for the first time.

The following basic hourly rates of pay will apply to apprentices employed in the sector from 1st October 2020.

Apprentice Year 1 33.3% of Craft rate
Apprentice Year 2 50% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 3 75% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 4 90% of Craft Rate

Electrical Contracting Sector

The following hourly rates of pay shall apply to the indicated categories of an employee employed in the sector from 1st September 2019:

Category 1 (Newly qualified electricians employed in the sector) €23.49

Category 2 (qualified electricians employed in the sector with effect from the commencement of their 3rd year of employment after qualification as an electrician) €23.96

Category 3 (Electricians employed in the sector with effect from the commencement of their 6th year of employment after qualification as an electrician) €24.34

The following rates of pay shall apply to apprentices employed in the sector from 1st September 2019:

Apprentice Year 1
Apprentice Year 2
Apprentice Year 3
Apprentice Year 4

The recommendations also provide for unsocial hours payments and set terms for pension and sick pay schemes.

Minister Breen said, “The sectoral employment process is welcome in that it provides an independent assessment of pay rates that takes into account the views of all interested parties”.

In the case of the construction sector, the Labour Court recommendation followed on from an application by the Unions BATU, Connect, OPATSI, SIPTU and UNITE to the court to review the terms and conditions of workers in the construction sector.

The application in the electrical contracting sector was made by Connect, the Association of Electrical Contractors Ireland and the Electrical Contractors Association.

How will this impact on the current upward movement of the sector in Ireland? Given construction workers are already paid above the average rate compared to other blue-collar positions, a new (or varied) SEO and a pay increase for construction workers will no doubt put further pressure on employers in the industry and perhaps cause a construction slowdown. The positive is that with a rate increase and a higher earning potential many of the skilled labour that left during the recession we might return.  We have also seen a shift in hiring patterns of construction firms, and increased use of outsourced and temporary staff for specific requirements, to minimise the wage bill and HR costs to the project.

Having followed recent events in Ireland an agreement and solution to this matter between all stakeholders is infinitely more desirable for all parties to avoid industrial action and to maintain positive industrial relations throughout the sector. The increased cost of labour will undoubtedly make an impact across industry and ultimately through to the consumer.

Whatever the results Sherlock Recruitment supplies temporary and permanent staffing solutions specific to the construction industry and we will be here for you to guide and assist you with whatever your requirements might be. In addition to supplying staffing solutions, Sherlock also provides critical Health and Safety training for the industry.


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