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Employment, Pensions and Benefits

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Expertise

"They are absolutely excellent across the board."
Chambers Europe

Our Employment, Pensions and Benefits Group was established more than twenty years ago in recognition of the increasing complexity and development of the law in the employment, equality and pensions areas, and the demands from clients for specialist advice. We provide legal advice on all aspects of the employment relationship, including pension schemes and employee benefits, with particular expertise in advising employers in the tech, financial services and pharma sectors, amongst others. Our work can be broken down into advisory, employment litigation and transaction planning and support. In many cases, our advisory work overlaps with our litigation work as many of the advisory projects have a litigation backdrop. We advise on all Irish and European legislation relating to or affecting the employment relationship and pensions/benefits entitlements. 

Our employment and pensions practice has developed into one of the largest and leading such groups in any law firm in Ireland.  It is best known as the first port of call for international employers in the Irish market and for consistently being the first firm to advise on complex new areas of employment law as they emerge, such as the proposed Senior Executive Accountability Regime and on Brexit relocation projects, including re-establishment of existing UK law governed European Works Councils under Irish law.  We similarly acted on the first cases to go before the Irish High Court on the Irish Central Bank’s fitness and probity regime when introduced in 2013. 

We advise on pensions law from a consultative and compliance point of view; we advise trustees and employers on all aspects of Irish pension arrangements both in the private and public sectors, advising on issues arising from the ongoing management and administration of pension arrangements, from establishment to winding up, including the provision of all necessary trust documentation.

We have extensive experience in advising on benefit restructuring and liability management exercises in defined benefit arrangements, to include advising on enhanced transfer value exercises, section 50 applications and pension increase exchange programmes. We also advise on contentious legal issues and have unparalleled experience in pensions litigation and contentious matters between employers and trustees, especially in the context of restructuring and winding up pension schemes.

In recent years, we have developed particular expertise in cross-border transfer work, to include advising on the transfer of Irish pension benefits to cross border IORPs based in Europe, and the establishment of cross border IORPs based in Ireland.  We also have considerable experience in advising in relation to compliance of cross border IORPs with Irish social and labour law 

We work closely with the firm's Corporate and Commercial Group and have advised on a number of the leading merger and acquisition transactions over the last twenty years.  This has included the key employment aspects of a number of multi-billion dollar and euro global transactions. 

Matheson’s immigration team has extensive experience helping corporate clients navigate the Irish immigration system on a diverse range of immigration applications, including employment permissions, visa applications, and residency registration. Our team acts as a liaison between businesses and Irish immigration authorities, including the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (“INIS”), the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (“DBEI”) and the Border Management Unit (“BMU”).

We offer eligibility assessments on short- and long-term immigration options to obtain the most appropriate permission for both the business and the relocating employee.  We can also help businesses plan strategically for employee mobility and offer immigration training and compliance audits for HR professionals and recruiters.


Our Team

Experience Highlights
  • Represented a regulated employer in the first two cases before the Irish High Court on the Central Bank of Ireland’s fitness and probity regime when introduced in 2013.
  • Advised on more Brexit relocation projects than any other Irish firm since 2016, providing key employment and financial services regulatory support on the integration of senior management functions. This includes acting on the largest Brexit relocation project into the Irish market at this time for a global bank, as well as for numerous insurers and asset managers.
  • Acted on 15 plus projects for international employers moving their UK law European Works Council from UK to Irish law post Brexit, and are seen as the only Irish firm having any practical experience or understanding of this issue.  This included advising on the successful defence of a related UK challenge to a global tech client’s right to make this switch, which has set the clear precedent for employers to move to Irish law.  We have also acted in the successful defence of a similar challenge for a separate US tech client before the German courts, and a challenge to a redundancy programme before the Belgian courts.
  • Advised a global pharma client on the critical employment aspects of a $50 billion merger and the subsequent integration of two very significant Irish businesses.
  • Successfully represented a US tech employer on one of the first cases before the Irish WRC under the Irish whistleblowing legislation when first introduced.
  • Established as the leading firm advising on the Central Bank of Ireland’s proposed Senior Executive Accountability Regime, similar to the UK Senior Manager Regime.  We have been working with regulated employers on the implications of these proposals for their business since 2018.
  • Advised a number of US technology clients on preparation for the gender pay gap reporting and strategies to tackle the root cause of their pay gap.  We have been involved in this area since 2017.
  • We have advised leading private purchasers on the purchase of former state assets and the conversion of employees on public sector terms to private sector arrangements, including in the telecoms and energy sectors.
Expertise

The Group offers an experienced team of specialist lawyers who are well positioned to provide top-tier legal advice on all employment and pension law matters, including the following:

  • General employment and equality law.
  • Preparing, drafting and negotiating contracts such as employment contracts (from basic statements of terms and conditions of employment to more complex service agreements), consultancy agreements, agency worker service agreements and severance agreements.
  • Gender pay gap audits, reporting obligations and gender pay gap analysis and mitigation.
  • Employment health and safety matters.
  • European work councils.
  • Fitness and Probity and Senior Executive Accountability Regime.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • Work permits.
  • Bullying and harassment claims.
  • Stress at work.
  • Compliance with working time models.
  • Internal disciplinary and grievance procedures and investigations.
  • Redundancy and workforce restructuring.
  • Post-termination restrictive covenants.
  • Industrial relations.
  • Transfer of undertakings (TUPE).
  • Employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Contentious matters before the courts and tribunals.
  • Mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • General pensions law.
  • Reconstruction/merger of pension arrangements.
  • Establishment of pension schemes.
  • Revenue approval.
  • Pension aspects of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Benefit restructuring and liability management exercises.
  • Winding up of schemes.
  • Trusteeship.
  • Fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Contentious pensions matters and pensions litigation.
  • Cross-border transfers.
  • Regulatory compliance.
Accolades

The level of professionalism that we have observed with Matheson has been exceptional. Their competence in all areas of Human Resource Law has been so useful. They have advised us through some very difficult situations.”
Employment: European Legal 500 2020

“Very approachable and exceptionally easy to work with. They take a sensible, commercial approach to legal issues.”
Employment: European Legal 500 2020

“One of the things that has really surprised me in working with Matheson is the strength of their team as a whole. The Matheson team consistently exceeds my expectations. Their advice is well-informed and responsive, but also practical and business-oriented.”
Employment: European Legal 500 2020

“We recently engaged Russell Rochford and the Matheson team for an extensive and complex business engagement in Dublin Ireland.  This engagement included Irish employment law consultation and application, tax advisory services, risk mitigation, and the unique and impactful role of the Matheson team engaging as the on-site human resource representative for us. Matheson services were highly professional, timely and thorough. This engagement was months in duration and included multiple deliverables to achieve the goals successfully. The project was a success through the partnership of Matheson. The  services provided by Matheson were above expectations and come with my highest personal recommendation.”
Employment: European Legal 500 2020

Matheson is considered “go-to for anything which could reach the High Court because it has the depth, experience and resource to look after these types of claims”.
European Legal 500 2019

Matheson are “very strong in advisory and litigation matters”.
European Legal 500 2019

"I would mention the quality of the advice and understanding of the perspective of all the actors in pensions, the holistic approach – not just legal industry perspective, they can bring it all."
Chambers Europe 2019

Matheson’s employment practice is “going from strength to strength”.
European Legal 500 2019

Matheson is a "law firm of choice for clients who need Irish legal advice. The depth of their international employment law knowledge is far greater than any other firm in the Irish market".
Chambers Europe 2019

Matheson's Employment team are "trusted business advisers for any advisory Irish employment law advice that is needed".
Chambers Europe 2019