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Blog  »  August 2017
30
Aug 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

The importance of having an Absence/Sick Leave Policy

As an employer, it can be quite a daunting prospect having to deal with sick leave and long-term sick leave can throw up other issues making it seem more complicated and even more daunting for the employer to deal with effectively. So how can an employer ensure compliance during these periods of absence?

First and foremost an Absence/Sick Leave Policy needs to be put in place. It must contain clear and concise guidelines for the employee and employer to follow in cases of absence

Your Absence Policy should include:

1. Details of any company Sick Pay Policy:

  • If an employer will/will not pay employee while on certified/uncertified sick leave.
  • If payments are to be made, length of term for payments.

2. Notification and certification requirements if employees are absent due to illness:

  • How much notice an employee needs to give an employer if they will be absent from work.
  • After how many days of absence a medical certificate is required.
  • For long-term absences, how often a medical certificate is required to be presented to the employer.

3. A statement that in the case of long-term absence due to illness, the employee may be required to attend a company GP or other nominated medical persons/facilities at the request of the employer.

It would also be advisable to include details on what is classed as being short-term, long-term and unauthorised absences - Unauthorised leave is absence by the employee without consent or approval from management or without proof of illness by means of a doctors certificate and should be dealt with as a matter of misconduct via the company disciplinary procedures.

As with most company policies and procedures, once in place, the employees will be aware of what is expected of them during times of absence or sick leave; this, in turn, should eliminate any further issues from arising.

Bright Contracts has a comprehensive Absence and Sick Leave Policy built into the Company Handbook which can be customised to suit your own company specifications and requirements.

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Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, Pay/Wage, Sick Leave/Absence Management, Staff Handbook

24
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employee reasonably dismissed after leaving a charity van outside a pub overnight

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that an employee had been fairly dismissed after he left a charity van, displaying the charity’s logo, parked outside a pub overnight. The van was recovered from the car park the following day when the worker telephoned a colleague and asked that they retrieve it. However, the worker was suspended with full pay, pending investigation, when he returned to work on Monday. The following month, as a result of the investigation the employee was dismissed.

Investigation

The worker had been employed at with the charity for less than a year, and therefore did not meet the requirement of having 1 years’ service in order to make a claim for unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015. The case instead was brought under the Industrial Relations Acts 1969, investigating a dispute between an employer and employee, and whether natural justice and fair procedures were followed during the investigation and dismissal.

The employee argued that he was subject to an unfair investigation and was dismissed for taking a charity van home, which he claimed was customary among employees to do in order to facilitate work routes the following day. He added that he had received an urgent phone call from his mother regarding the hospitalisation of his father and that the only way he could assist in taking his mother to the hospital was by using the charity’s van.

The employer argued that as a charity, in a time where voluntary contributions are increasingly under scrutiny that their public image is of the utmost importance. They noted that they had a vehicle policy in place and that the absence of a company van for over 24 hours was unacceptable. The employer also argued that during the disciplinary process “a female manager had become frightened by suggestions that the complainant would call to her home address”.

Finding

The adjudication officer found:

“Taking in mind the open admission of the complainant that he had taken the van home and the extensive nature of the investigation and proper appeal procedures, I came to the view that the dismissal decision was in the band of reasonableness for an employer in the charity/voluntary sector concerned.”

Learning Points

It is important to note that although an employee cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015 if they have less than 1 years’ service, employers must ensure that natural justice and fair procedures are followed at all times. We can also see from this case how having clear policies and procedures in place is extremely important, particularly to assist protecting your business against a possible claim.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

17
Aug 17

Posted by
Victoria Clarke

Paternity Leave – Uptake lower than expected

In September 2016, fathers of children born in Ireland became eligible for the first time to take up to two weeks’ paternity leave and to receive Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Statistics collated from the first few months of the scheme show, however, that just one in four fathers eligible for the scheme chose to avail of it. This is in stark contrast to the expectation that 60% of eligible fathers would avail of the scheme when it was first announced.

Just over 5,000 paternity benefit applications were awarded during the first three months of the scheme going live, with County Longford, Kerry, Roscommon, and Clare having the fewest applicants. A larger uptake, however, was seen in County Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny.

A further 7,500 paternity benefit claims were subsequently awarded in the first four months of 2017. Under the new scheme, eligible fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. The two-week leave can be taken at any point within 28 weeks of the birth or adoption of a child, but the two weeks must be taken together.

A social welfare benefit of €235 per week is paid for the two weeks. It is at an employer’s discretion if they wish to top up this payment to the full weekly wage normally earned by the employee. Despite the low uptake so far, it is hoped that the number of applicants will increase as the scheme enters its second year in September.

Current statistics also don’t reflect fathers who may be delaying their paternity leave, for example, fathers whose child was born on February 28 this year can take it at any time up to September 1, 2017.

Guidance on how employers should treat Paternity Benefit and when it should be entered in Thesaurus Payroll Manager can be found here: https://www.thesaurus.ie/docs/2017/paternity-benefit/taxation-of-paternity-benefit/

Related article: Equality for working Dads with new Paternity Leave

Posted in Annual Leave, Parental Leave

16
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

€30,000 Awarded to employee dismissed during probation

If an employee has less than one year of service with an employer they are not protected under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977-2007. In spite of this, all employees are entitled to natural justice and fair procedures, which makes dismissing an employee whilst on probation less straightforward than it may seem. This is evident in this case where a former General Secretary of the Irish Postmaster Union was awarded €30,000 for being unfairly dismissal during his 6 months probationary period.

Background

The employee commenced working for the Irish Postmaster Union in August 2009 and was advised that he was on a probationary period for 6 months. In October 2009 he had his first performance review and in January 2010 he had his second performance review. Towards the end of January, the employee was informed that there were reservations regarding his performance and that this probation period was to be extended for a further 3 months. The employee wrote a letter to his employer expressing his concerns regarding this and was subsequently dismissed and paid 3 months’ salary in lieu of notice.

Findings

The court found that the employer had failed to “adhere to either its own disciplinary procedures or be bound by the provisions of the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures S.I. No 146 of 2000 because he was on probation, was misconceived”. The employee was awarded €30,000 for unfair dismissal on top of the 3 months’ salary he was paid in lieu of notice.

Learning Points

Employers must be aware that although the employee is not protected by the Unfair Dismissals Act, that they can still make a claim for unfair dismissal under the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. It is advisable for an employer to include a probationary clause in their employee’s contract of employment, and if they wish to dismiss an employee during the probation period that they should exercise fair procedures.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Awards, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

9
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employee fairly dismissed over 2 paper cups of coffee powder

A chief kitchen steward for a 4-star hotel in Limerick has lost his case for unfair dismissal over two cups of coffee powder. Krzysztof Scislowski was dismissed from the Strand Hotel in Limerick in March this year after he admitted to taking two cups of coffee powder he liked from the hotel kitchen as it wasn’t available in the staff canteen.

Background

Mr. Scislowski had been employed at the Strand Hotel since 2007 as chief kitchen steward where his duties included the supervision of staff and of cleaning, maintenance of all cleaning equipment and to control the security of hotel stock and property. Two paper cups full of coffee powder were found in his locker during a search after a colleague reported seeing Mr. Scislowski wrapping the cups and putting them into his pocket. Mr. Scislowski initially claimed that he had bought the coffee at a shop and transferred it to the cups when the glass jar broke. But during the third interview, he confessed that he had taken it from the dry-goods cupboard. He said that he had lied because he was scared that nobody would believe him that the coffee was intended for consumption during work and not to take home.

Dismissed

Mr. Scislowski was dismissed for gross misconduct on the grounds that trust was lost when he took the coffee and then lied about it. He appealed the decision to the general manager who upheld the decision on the grounds that the Strand Hotel “has zero tolerance of theft and that the value of the item taken is not a factor”.

Appeal

He told the EAT and that he did not understand the severity of his actions and thought that with an unblemished record that he would only receive a warning. The tribunal found that the hotel was reasonable to believe that Mr. Scislowski had intended on taking the coffee home and that he had breached the trust they had put in him as he was responsible for the security of the stock and when he lied during the initial stages of the investigation.

It's clear to see that once you have company policies and procedures in place and you follow those procedures during a dismissal process, you are protecting your company if a claim were brought against you. 

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Theft, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook