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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

7
Nov 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Premature Births and Maternity Benefit

From 1st October 2017, the period for which Maternity Benefit is paid has been extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely. A premature birth is described as one at less than 37 weeks’ gestation. It is estimated that every year in Ireland approximately 4,500 babies are born prematurely.

Currently, under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, a mother is entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and 16 weeks’ unpaid leave. Maternity leave normally starts two weeks before the baby’s expected due date or on the date of the birth of the child, should it be earlier.

Under the new amendment, where a child is born prematurely the mother’s paid maternity leave will be extended by the equivalent of the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and the date when the maternity leave was expected to start.  For example, where a baby is born in the 30th week of gestation the mother would have an additional entitlement of approximately seven weeks of maternity leave and benefit i.e. from the date of birth in the 30th week to the two weeks before the expected date of confinement. This additional period will be added on to the mother’s normal entitlement to 26 weeks of maternity leave and benefit, where the mother meets the ordinary qualifying criteria.

Mothers of pre-term babies are advised to contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), email maternityben@welfare.ie, to arrange the additional payment.

Babies surviving from the earliest gestation's, such as 23 weeks, can spend months in a neonatal unit in hospital, by the time a premature baby gets to go home, a mother’s maternity leave can almost be used up. This new change has been heralded as a positive step in supporting parents during a difficult time.

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, Customer Update, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Wages

26
Oct 17

Posted by
Marzena Ignar

Does my employee need a written statement of employment?

The main purpose of the written statement of employment, often referred to as the contract of employment, is to clarify the terms of a person’s employment and avoid uncertainty or misunderstandings, where employee expectations might not be the same as employer intentions.

The Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 require an employer to provide an employee with a written statement of their terms of employment within 2 months of commencement of employment. The above Act covers all employees working under a contract of employment, including full-time staff, part-time staff, fixed-term and casual workers.

The written statement must include the following information:

  • The full name of employer and employee
  • The address of the employer
  • Place of work
  • Job title or nature of work
  • The date the employment started
  • Type of contract
  • Rate of pay
  • Pay intervals
  • Hours of work
  • Paid leave
  • Incapacity for work, sick pay 
  • Any terms relating to a pension scheme
  • Period of notice to be given by employer or employee
  • Details of any collective agreements
  • Pay reference period

Additional clauses can be recommended to further clarify the relationship. These might include:

  • Probation clause
  • Pay in lieu of notice clause
  • Confidentiality clause
  • Right to search 
  • The calculation of holiday pay

Failure to comply with the above Act could leave employers open to a claim from their employees. Employers found not to have written terms of employment in place will be fined a maximum of 4 weeks’ remuneration per employee. Clearly worded contracts of employment are key to the success of any business. They will ensure your business is on the right side of employment law as well as help prevent disputes with employees.

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

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Records, Employment Contract

3
Oct 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Be careful of age discrimination in job adverts

Age discrimination in job advertisements has become an increased issue recently and employers need to ensure they are acting lawfully under the Employment Equality Act, 1998. Such discrimination can be seen in advertisements that exclude people applying for certain roles based on their age. Specifically advertising for younger or older people not only limits your chances of finding the right candidate but also discriminates against people of certain ages and a claim can be made against you to an employment tribunal.

Ambitious Young People

Using phrases like “ambitious young people” or “youthful and energetic” straightaway excludes people from a certain age bracket to apply for these roles. These phrases clearly deter older, suitable persons from applying for such roles. With thousands of job advertisements asking for “recent graduates” it discriminates against someone who may have graduated over 10 years ago, but would also be highly suited for the position.

5+ Years’ Experience

Many young people are finding job advertisements that show clear signs of age discrimination impossible barriers to apply for these roles and getting a foot on the career ladder. If a job advertisement asks the candidate to have 5 years + experience in a particular role it could be seen as discriminating against someone who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to gain that experience as they are too young.

Learning Points

When writing a job advertisement it must be carefully written so that the criteria for the role doesn’t make it impossible for, or discourage a certain age group to apply. There are special circumstances where you may look for a particular age group to apply, and in these instances, you must have a justifiable reason or certain necessary requirements of the role and these must be clearly included in the advertisement.

For further information on how to avoid discrimination in your recruitment process please see here.

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, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

25
Sep 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

What to be aware of when completing a reference check

As an employer, there will undoubtedly come a time that you will be asked to provide a reference check for a previous employee to their potential new employer. If you have a standout employee with plenty of praise for them, then providing their reference check may seem like a doddle, but if you have an employee that parted on bad terms the reference check can be less than straightforward.

Why you should be careful completing a reference check

You have a duty of care to provide a truthful reference check to potential employers – but this may come at a price. Be aware that you run the risk of being sued for defamation if a negative reference that was given cannot be verified. A new employer can also claim against you if an employee who you gave a great reference for turns out to be less than satisfactory.

What can you do to protect yourself?

• You are under no obligation to provide a reference check for employees. If you wish to refrain from providing reference checks you may include a policy in your staff handbook stating this.

• If you are willing to provide reference checks you may adopt a policy to keep it brief and only divulge factual information, including:

- Dates of employment
- Job title
- Relationship to the candidate
- Final Salary

• If you are happy to provide a full reference check for an employee and answer behavioral questions regarding their work ethic, attitude, timekeeping etc. ensure that all the information you provide is factual and true.

When you adopt a reference check policy that best fits your business, the key then is to be consistent. What you do for one employee you must do for all. Inconsistency could leave you wide open to a discrimination claim from a disgruntled employee. Be sure to include the policy in your staff handbook and make all employees aware of it.

Also, see…Top Tips for Reference Check Questions

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Update, SME, Staff Handbook

19
Sep 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

4 Reasons why contracts of employment are needed

We’ve heard all the excuses before; “I’m too busy and don’t have the time”, “It’s too expensive to implement contracts”, or “I only have four employees, I don’t need to provide employment contracts”. If you are an employer you are obliged to provide your employees with a written statement of terms of employment.

We have compiled the 4 most important reasons why contracts of employment are needed.

It is a legal requirement

Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994-2014, as an employer you must provide a written contract of employment to a new staff member no later than 2 months after their commencement. Employers must also provide employees with written disciplinary procedures, and procedures that the employer will follow when dismissing an employee, within 28 days of the employee starting. These procedures may be included in the employment contract or in the company handbook.

Protect your business against costly disputes

Having contracts of employment in place offers your business protection in the case of a dispute. A dispute can escalate to the WRC, where not having clearly documented terms of employment can really leave you wide open as an employer. If you are found not to have contracts of employment in place for your staff you will face a fine of 4 weeks’ pay per employee. In the case of a dispute, employers could face fines equating to two years remuneration - the maximum compensation award.

Protect your company against WRC inspections

Approximately 5,000 workplace inspections are carried out by the WRC every year, with 60% of them being unannounced. During a WRC inspection, the first thing they will ask to see is a copy of your contracts of employment. In 2016, 62% of employers failed to keep adequate employment records. Inspectors may issue on the spot fines for amounts up to €2,000 where they have reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed a relevant offence.

Instills confidence in you and your employees

In terms of the employer/employee relationship, the contract of employment is the most important thing you’ll ever deal with. It is the foundation stone of the employer/employee relationship. Having contracts of employment in place will clarify certain conditions for you and your employee so that both parties are aware of what is expected of them. Having contracts in place will also instill confidence in you, knowing that you are doing everything you can do to protect yourself and your business in any situation that may arise.

It is never too late to put contracts of employment in place. Read our blog “How can I introduce contracts to existing employees?” and follow our 4 simple steps here.

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 Records, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, NERA, Pay/Wage, Sick Leave/Absence Management, SME, Staff Handbook, Wages

11
Sep 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employee awarded maximum unfair dismissal compensation

The Labor Court has recently ruled that a driver was unfairly dismissed after he was involved in three road accidents. The driver was awarded €72,042, equating to two years remuneration - the maximum compensation which could be awarded.

Background

Mr. Coughlan was employed as a van driver for DHL for 11 years. In 2012 he was involved in a road accident to which he received a written warning. In 2013 he was involved in a second road accident where he received a final warning. The warnings were ‘live’ for 12 months, after which they expired. The claimant was involved in a third road accident in 2015 to which damages to the van amounted to €2,500. By that time both previous warnings had expired and he was brought into a disciplinary hearing for “failure to protect and safeguard company property”.

During the hearing Mr. Coughlan took responsibility for his misjudgment which led to the accident. Throughout the hearing numerous references were made to the expired incidents. Mr. Coughlan was dismissed with immediate effect for gross misconduct on the basis that he had failed to protect and safeguard company property.

Finding

The WRC found the dismissal unreasonable and ordered reinstatement. At the appeal to the Labor Court, DHL argued that they had no other choice but to dismiss Mr. Coughlan as their faith in his driving abilities was lost. Although his previous warnings had expired, the company felt that they had to take his entire working history into consideration. The Court determined that the 2015 incident, in isolation to the previous warnings was not sufficient to dismiss. It also took into consideration the company’s failure to consider alternative positions within the organisation for Mr. Coughlan.

Learning Points

This case highlights something we see time again, the importance of practicing fair procedures when considering dismissal. It highlights the importance of employers showing that they had considered alternative roles where possible before dismissal – something that is often noted in unfair dismissal cases. Lastly, the enormous amount awarded to Mr. Coughlan reminds employers of the costly consequence unfair dismissal can have on their business.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Health & Safety, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook

5
Sep 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

The dangers of dismissing an employee during probation

Recruitment is tricky, and with any new hire there is an element of risk involved; will they work out, is their experience what they say it is, will they fit-in with the team? In the unfortunate instances where things do not work out, it can be problematic for an employer, particularly a small employer. 

A Common Misconception

A common misconception is that if an employee is on probation and things are not working out, that they can be dismissed without regard. This is not the case and can leave employers wide open to a claim against them. There are a number of employment cases that illustrate this and serve as good case studies for employers. In the case of Glenpatrick Water Coolers Limited v. a worker, the Labour Court recommended that the employer pay €6,500 to an employee who was unfairly dismissed whilst on probation. Whilst the Court recognised the inclusion in the contract that normal disciplinary procedures did not apply during the probationary period, the court insisted that fair procedures must still apply. More significantly, an engineer was awarded €33,400 having been dismissed 2 months into his probation period. In both of the above cases, the courts highlighted the employer's’ total failure to adhere to the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary procedures.

Be Aware

Whilst an employee is not protected by the Unfair Dismissals Act until they have accrued one year's’ service, claims for unfair dismissal can be brought under the Industrial Relations Act. Employers should be aware that although dismissal during probation is possible, it does not give employers a free-hand to act as they please. Fair procedures and natural justice should always be respected.

To view our full Essential Guide to Managing Probation click here

To view our Sample Probation Letters click here

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, SME, Staff Handbook

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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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

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

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