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17
Sep 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Data Protection complaints increase since introduction of GDPR

Nearly 4 months since the General data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced across all of Europe, complaints around Data Protection have nearly doubled in the UK and are up by nearly 2 thirds in Ireland.


GDPR was designed to give Data Subjects more control over their personal data, with more transparency and the threat of larger fines to those in breach of the new rules. The GDPR requires any company that suffers a data breach to notify its users/data subjects within 72 hours of the breach being discovered.


• Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), head of communications - Graham Doyle has said that ‘there has been a significant increase in the volumes of both breaches and complaints to the DPC since May 25th.’ Since GDPR enforcement began the DPC has seen monthly data breach reports double, while data protection complaints increased by 65%.

• Data protection complaints to the UK’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO) rose to 4214 in July compared to just 2310 complaints received in May before the GDPR came into force. A spokes person for the ICO said the increase was expected, as more users became aware of data protection because of publicity around the new rules and following a series of high-profile data scandals involving big technology firms.


Experts note, however that the increase does not mean that the number of data breaches has suddenly gone up, but rather reflects the full scale of the data breach problem becoming better known.
Organisations that fail to comply with GDPR can face fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater. So far none of the EU’s Data Protection Agency’s has issued any fines. Graham Doyle at the DPC said ‘It is too soon to expect to see any fines levied against organizations that have violated GDPR – given its only 3 months after it went into full effect.’

 

We will be hosting a free online webinar - ‘GDPR 3 Months On’ on Thursday September 20th at 11am, where Graham Doyle will joining us as a guest speaker.


To register for this webinar please click here.

Posted in Company handbook, Employee Contracts, Employee Self Service, Employment Update, Events, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

24
Jul 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Back to Basics - New Employees

We often get calls into the helpline requesting basic information on HR/Employment Law queries like how to deal with new starters or when should an employer invoke the disciplinary procedures, so we will look at some basic HR topics in a series of blogs starting today with new employees.


New Employees
• A new employee is required by law, under the Unfair Dismissal Act, to receive a copy of the company’s ‘Dismissal Procedures’, which are usually contained in the ‘Disciplinary/Grievance Procedures’ of the Staff or Company Handbook, within 28 days of starting work with the company.
• Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 the employer is obliged to furnish new employees within 2 months of starting, with a ‘Written Statement of ‘certain’ terms and conditions’ of their employment, also known as an ‘Employment Contract’.
• The new GDPR regulations specify that employers must provide their employees with information about what personal data they hold on them, for what purpose and how it was collected, who it may be shared with, what security measures are in place to keep it safe and what the employee’s rights are as well as other specific requirements. This is called an ‘Employee Privacy Policy’ or ‘Employee Privacy Notice’ and should be given to the employee as an addendum to their Employment Contract.

Based on these 3 pieces of legislation it would be best practice to provide your new starter with their Employment Contract, Privacy Policy and Staff/Company Handbook on their first day of work, if not before it. An employer can be fined up to 4 weeks pay for not providing the employee with their ‘Written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment’ within the 2 month timeframe, so it is best to get into the habit of furnishing the documents as soon as possible.

There is no requirement for a signature from the employee on any of these documents; however it would be prudent of an employer to request a signature from the employee or at least some form of acknowledgement or proof of the employee receiving the documents.

The new Employment Bill 2017, yet to be introduced, stipulates that a new employee should receive some details of their terms of employment within 5 days of starting with a company but it is yet to be seen whether this aspect of the Bill will get the go ahead.

Bright Contracts offers employers a simple and user-friendly system which enables them to easily create and customize all of these documents and keep an electronic record on file. To download a Free Trial click here or book an online Demo of the Bright Contracts software.

 

Bright Contracts | Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

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

13
Jun 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Why am I getting all these emails about privacy?

Lately you may have noticed your inbox bulging each morning with lots of emails with similar subject lines to these;


“Your privacy = our priority”                   “GDPR Data Protection – Your Data is Safe with us”
“Big Changes are coming”                        “Opt-In to continue receiving our great updates”
“GDPR update – please don’t leave us!”  “We’re keeping your details safe”


New, tougher European regulations around privacy and the use of personal data have now come into force and could see companies hit with huge fines if found to be in breach of the new laws.
In order for personal data to be processed lawfully, the processor must be able to rely on the reasoning being at least one of 6 categories, the main one being Consent. So if you were previously signed up with a company to receive newsletters or emails about special offers, they can no longer continue to send you these without your explicit consent.
Previous Data Protection Legislation allowed for an option to ‘Opt-Out’ as being sufficient means to mark having your consent, however with the new GDPR this is no longer the case. Consent must be ‘freely given’ unambiguous’ and for a ‘specific purpose’. Consent must be easily read and clearly distinguishable from other text and evidence must be collected as to how consent was obtained.
Consent can no longer be assumed and the likes of pre-ticked boxes that would have needed to be unticked if you didn’t want to register are now banned. Also the facility to Unsubscribe must be clear and an easy procedure to follow.


So all the emails you have been receiving, like those listed above, are those companies that you may previously have signed up with, scrambling to cover themselves for GDPR and not wanting to lose you as a possible customer or sale.


For more information on GDPR and how it may affect your organization, please see our dedicated online support documentation here.

 

Bright Contracts | Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract

17
May 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

WRC Annual Report 2017 – The Facts and Figures

The Work Place Relations Commission have published their third annual report, outlining the key performance metrics relating to complaints filed and decisions made across the employment realms.

One of the bigger achievements made by the WRC is a dramatic reduction in the length of time it takes to get a case to resolution. When the WRC was established in October 2015 it could take a case up to 2 years to secure an outcome whereas now, once submissions are received, it is taking less than 6 months.

Other Key Facts

• €1.8 million was recovered in unpaid wages; up €300,000 on the previous year
• 4750 workplace inspections were carried out, either announced or unannounced with over 99,000 employees covered by these inspections
• 14,001 complaints were received by WRC relating to:

  • Pay – 27%
  • Unfair Dismissal - 14% 
  • Discrimination and Equality - 11% 
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment – 8%

• Over 52,000 calls were received on the WRC information hotline, with just under half of these relating to employment permit queries.
• There were 4,370 adjudication hearing’s; up 24% on 2016

It is now almost three years since the formation of the WRC, and from the above figures it is clear that they are well into their stride and making significant inroads in terms of their objective of promoting the improvement of workplace relations, encouraging compliance with relevant employment and equality legislation. As such it is imperative that employer’s have the proper records in place in case of an inspection.

Solution

Bright Contracts allows the user to create and customise contracts of employment and company handbooks, this covers part of your obligation as an employer under current Employment Legislation.

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

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employment Tribunals, Wages, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

1
Feb 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

New Code of Practice on Longer Working

Case 1

Paul Quigley, a highly regarded GP in addiction services in the North Dublin HSE was recently granted an injunction by the High Court to stop the HSE from forcing him to retire. His lawyers are claiming the forced retirement amounts to age discrimination.

Case 2

A WRC adjudicator recently ruled that Susan Devereaux, who was forced to retire from her job, should be re-instated in her role with Pdforra, as the employer had failed to ‘objectively justify’ its reasons for dismissing her when she reached the age of 60.

Case 3

A Bookkeeper who was ‘retired’ by her employer on reaching the age of 66 has been awarded €12,000 in an age discrimination case she took against her employer.

These are just a few of the cases relating to forced retirement that has come up in the courts over the last few months. They have brought attention to the fact that these now ‘retired’ workers were sometimes unable to claim the State pension as they may not have reached the eligible age to do so. At the moment private sector workers in Ireland can start to receive the State pension at the age of 66, this will rise to 67 in 2021 and again to 68 in 2028.

The Workplace Relations Commission has now published a Code of Practice, Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice on Longer Working)(Declaration) Order 2017. The Code can now be used to help employer’s when dealing with retirement and requests to work beyond the retirement age. Although not legally binding, any employer who does not follow the guidelines will need to be able to justify the reasoning behind it.

On publishing the new Code of Practice, the WRC has set out what should be taken into consideration when it comes to retirement in the workplace:

Utilising the skills, abilities and experience of older workers

  • Draw on benefits of older workers and utilize through training and knowledge sharing with younger members of staff.
  • Train all management about age diversity and the benefits of such diversity in the workplace

Objective Justification

  • If a mandatory retirement age is set within a company, the employer must be able to ‘objectively justify’ the reason for it, examples may include health and safety, intergenerational fairness.

Set out a step by step ‘Retirement Process’

  • Set timelines and give adequate notice prior to retirement date
  • Explore transitional arrangements like flexible working, alternative roles up to date of retirement.

Requests to work longer

  • Need to be seen to be taken into consideration
  • Procedures set in place for acceptance and refusal of requests to work after set retirement age.

As a whole we are all living longer so it seems only natural that we would also be allowed to work for longer? This new Code of Practice will be very important going forward for Irish Employment legislation and employer’s alike.

For more information please click here


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

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

23
Jan 18

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Is it discrimination to top up maternity pay but not paternity pay?

September 2016 saw the introduction of Paternity Leave, that for the first time ever allowed fathers/partners to take two weeks paid leave on the birth of a child / placement of a child for adoption. Paternity Leave is paid at the same rate as Maternity Pay, currently €235 per week*, leaving it up to employers to decide whether or not they wish to top-up pay during the two weeks leave. The question then arose that if by topping up maternity leave, would an employer by default have to top up paternity pay?

A recent Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) case involving a transport company, provides useful guidance on the answer to this question.

In this case a male employee brought a case under the Employment Equality Act claiming discrimination on the grounds of gender due to the fact that the employer topped up maternity pay but did not top up paternity pay.

However the WRC Adjudicator held in favour of the Company, stating that maternity leave is different to paternity leave and that “the special protection afforded to women in connection with pregnancy and maternity is embedded in European and Irish law”. The Adjudicator concluded that the employer was entitled to make special provisions for women at the time of maternity leave and was protected in that regard by the Employment Equality Acts.

Conclusion

This case gives the green light to employers who wish to offer a maternity top up but not offer the same for paternity leave. Whatever it is you decide on, employers are advised to have clear paternity and maternity leave policies in place that is accessible to all employees.

*The rate of maternity/paternity pay will increase to €240 per week from end of March 2018.

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

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

16
Jan 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

€15k awarded in discrimination case to pregnant employee

The Labour Court found that the sacking of a manager from Wrights of Howth’s Crabby Jo’s restaurant was tainted with discrimination and have awarded compensation of €15,000.

Background

The employee was on a 6 month probationary period when she was fired just 3 months into her employment, very shortly after informing her bosses that she was pregnant.

No issues had been raised about the employee’s performance, however poor work performance was used as the reason for her dismissal on the 15th of June. The employee felt that the atmosphere had changed completely after she had announced her pregnancy on the 8th of May, she had requested a meeting to discuss her concerns she had over this. She was given no opportunity to make any representations or defend her position and was simply informed, without warning, that her employment was terminated.

In its ruling, the court found that no issues had previously been raised about the employee’s performance prior to her notifying them that she was pregnant and she had not been subject to any disciplinary warnings or action. The court originally awarded €30,000 for discrimination based on gender, however this decision was appealed and a lesser figure of €15,000 compensation was awarded due to the manner of the dismissal and the serious lacking in adherence to the restaurant’s own disciplinary procedures.

Learning points

It is important to recognise that disciplinary procedures must be followed at all times, regardless of how simple or difficult a situation may seem to be. It can end up being a very expensive mistake for an employer. Bright Contracts has comprehensive Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, customisable to companies requirements, built into the software.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

8
Jan 18

Posted by
Lauren Conway

The countdown to the GDPR is on!

With less than 5 month to go before the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force employers are urged to start preparing immediately if they haven’t already done so.

What is it?

The GDPR is a European privacy regulation replacing all existing data protection regulations and will come into play on 25 May 2018. The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world.

The GDPR applies to all businesses including sole traders that process personal data (a name, photo, email address, bank details etc.) so it is safe to say that it will affect all businesses in some way. Employers are advised to be prepared otherwise they will face fines of up to €20M or 4% of annual global revenue, whichever is greater, for non-compliance. So how can you start preparing to ensure your business is fully compliant?

Preparation

A good starting point for preparing for GDPR is to create an inventory of all personal data held and answer the following questions:

• Why are you holding the data?
• What is the legal basis for holding the data?
• How is the data obtained?
• Why the data was originally gathered?
• How long is the data held for?
• How is the data saved? Is it saved securely?
• Is the data shared with anyone else and with whom?

As the GDPR requires organisations to be in a position to demonstrate compliance with its requirements, documenting the above will enable employers to:

• Identify and gaps in compliance
• Put in place processes to rectify gaps
• Produce evidence of its compliance on the new GDPR

In preparation for GDPR you must be aware of your data protection responsibilities and ensure that all employees are aware of their responsibilities when processing data. Ensure that you have an up to date data protection/privacy policies addressing the six principles of GDPR and apply it to your organisation.

For further information register now for our GDPR webinars  here
And read our GDPR blogs here

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

Posted in Company handbook, Employee Handbook, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

22
Nov 17

Posted by
Marzena Ignar

Making an Employee Redundant

Redundancy is never an easy decision for an employer to make but there may come a time when circumstances arise which leave an employer with no alternative but to declare redundancies.

A redundancy situation can often arise in the following situations:

  • an employee’s job ceases to exist
  • the employer ceases to carry on the business
  • the requirement for employees has diminished
  • an employee is not skilled for work that is to be done

In the event of a redundancy, employees are covered under Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2014, if they meet the following requirements:

  • aged 16 or over
  • have at least 2 years continuous service (104 weeks)
  • are a full-time employee insurable under PRSI class A, or PRSI Class J for a part-time employee

How to calculate Statutory Redundancy Pay

Statutory Redundancy is payable at a rate of:

  • 2 weeks’ pay for each year of service. If the period of employment is not an exact number of years, the excess days are credited as a portion of a year
  • plus one week’s pay

The term ‘pay’ refers to the employee’s current normal gross weekly pay, including average regular overtime and benefits in kind. The above, however, is based on a maximum earnings limit of €600 per week (before PAYE, PRSI & USC).

An employer may also choose to pay a redundancy payment above the statutory minimum. In such circumstances, the statutory payment element will be tax free but some of the lump sum payment may be taxable. 

Employers should ensure that a redundancy policy is included in their company handbook and that all staff are aware of the procedures in place if redundancies were to arise. 

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

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Handbook, Staff Handbook, Wages

11
Nov 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

How to avoid harassment in the workplace

The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein n the US have created somewhat of a snowball effect worldwide with thousands of women and men speaking out about their accounts of sexual harassment and assault, many of them being work related. Allegations involving high profile individuals and people in authority have demonstrated just how widespread a problem this has become across all industries and professions and has exposed a sinister culture of silence, fear and acceptance which we must now turn on its head.

The Employment Equality Acts clearly defines sexual harassment as: forms of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

It is important for employers to ensure that harassment will not be tolerated and to portray this to their employees and clients. Employers are therefore compelled to take steps to ensure a harassment-free work environment. Effectively, organisations must set down clearly defined procedures to deal with all forms of harassment including sexual harassment.

There are a number of steps an employer can take to help prevent this type of behavior from occurring in the workplace:

A Bullying and Harassment policy 

  • to protect the dignity of employees and to encourage respect in the workplace

An Equal Opportunities policy 

  • to create a workplace which provides for Equal Opportunities for all staff

A Whistle-blowing policy 

  • to enable staff to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner.

Transparent and fair procedures throughout 

Disciplinary action

  • A sanction that is appropriate for the level of alleged harassment – to help try and change the culture of silence that has allowed harassment to become normal and protected.

Provision of on-going training 

  • At all levels within organisation

Bright Contracts has a fully customisable Staff Handbook, which includes a Bullying and Harassment Policy and also an Equality Policy and Whistleblowing Policy.

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

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Company handbook, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

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