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2
Jan 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

January 2018 - Increase to Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage for an experienced adult worker is increasing to €9.55 per hour from January 1st 2018. This is the third year in a row that the NMW has been increased but this is by far the largest with an increase of .30c

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 provides for a minimum hourly rate of pay for all workers.

All workers, including full time, part time, casual and temporary will be deemed to be covered by the act with only 2 exceptions; close relatives of the employer and certain industry specific apprentices.

Workers can be broken down into 5 different categories; experienced adult workers in employment more than 2 years and over the age of 18, a worker under the age of 18, workers in their first and second year of employment who are over the age of 18 and trainees’ who are undergoing a course that satisfies certain conditions set out in the Act.

The new minimum hourly rates are:

  1. Experienced adult worker – €9.55
  2. Under age 18 – €6.69
  3. In the first year after the date of first employment over age 18 - €7.64 per hour
  4. In the second year after the date of first employment over age 18 - €8.60
  5. In a course of training or study over age 18, undertaken in normal working hours-1st one third period: €7.17 per hour; 2nd one third period: €7.64; 3rd one third period: €8.60 per hour.

Breaches of the act are deemed to be criminal offences and are punishable with hefty fines and even imprisonment.

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Posted in Pay/Wage

13
Dec 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Christmas Public Holiday Entitlements

There are three public holidays coming up over the festive season – Christmas Day, St. Stephens Day and New Year’s Day. Although many offices across the country will close during this period it can be one of the busiest times of the year for industries including retail, hospitality, and hair and beauty. So what public holiday entitlement are employees entitled to over this time?

Full-time employees

Full-time employees have immediate public holiday entitlement to one of the following:
• A paid day off that day
• A paid day off within a month of that day
• An additional day of annual leave
• An additional days pay

Part-time employees

If a public holiday falls on a day that a part-time employee usually works, they are entitled to one of the public holiday benefits as listed above, if they have worked at least 40 hours in total in the 5 weeks prior to the public holiday.

Where the public holiday falls on a day on which the employee does not normally work, the employee is entitled to one fifth of his/her normal weekly wage.

Sick leave, absence and public holiday entitlement

If a full time employee is on sick leave during a public holiday, they are entitled to one of the public holiday benefits as listed above. If a part time employee is on sick leave during a public holiday, they are also entitled to one of the public holiday benefits listed above, if they have worked at least 40 hours in total in the 5 weeks prior to the public holiday.

Employees absent due to maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, annual leave and jury duty accrue public holiday entitlement as if they were at work. Employees on carer’s leave continue to accrue public holiday entitlement for the first 13 weeks absence on carer’s leave.

The following type of absences occurring immediately before the public holiday will not be entitled to public holiday benefit.

• Absence in excess of 52 weeks due to occupational injury
• Absence in excess of 26 weeks due to illness or injury
• Absence in excess of 13 weeks for another reason and authorised by the employer including lay off
• Absence by reason of strike

Termination of employment

Employees who leave employment during the week ending before a public holiday and have worked the 4 weeks prior to that week are entitled to receive the benefits outlined above for that public holiday.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Pay/Wage, Wages

1
Dec 17

Posted by
Denise Cowley

Why not get more for you and your employees when making Bonus payments?

As the long dark evenings set in and Halloween is over, the build up to the most wonderful time of the year will begin again! At this time of the year a significant amount of employers pay-out a Christmas/annual bonus and no matter how little or large the bonus is, a large portion ends up being paid over to the Revenue if it is put through the payroll as a taxable addition.

For example, if an employee’s salary is €35,000 per annum and they receive a bonus of €1,000 at Christmas, this employee would only receive around half of this amount after tax, employee PRSI and USC. The company would also be liable to pay 10.75% employer PRSI on the bonus, so in addition to giving the bonus of €1,000 there is also the extra €107.50 meaning the bonus is in fact costing the company €1,107.50.

The Solution

Revenue allow one small non-cash benefit per employee per annum up to the value of €500, PAYE, PRSI OR USC do not need to be applied to the benefit. A gift card or voucher seems to be the most popular way of allowing this payment to be made to the employee. The most popular gift card would seem to be One4All gift cards. Thesaurus Payroll Manager offers unique integration with One4All allowing employers to purchase gift cards quickly and easily for their employees. The integration offers a range of benefits, including:

  • The ability to pay via EFT, a facility not available to regular gift card customers
  • No additional charges, unlike when purchasing direct from the Post Office
  • Tracking of gift cards purchased so that you as an employer are alerted if you attempt to purchase more than one gift card for an employee in any one tax year 
  • Prevention from ordering a card in excess of the exemption limit, i.e. €500. 

Please note: where a benefit exceeds €500 in value, the entire amount will be subject to PAYE, PRSI and USC.

Purchasing gift cards through Thesaurus Payroll Manager is both simple and straightforward. To order, simply click on the Gift Card option, fill in your company details, select the amount for each employee's gift card and click to proceed to the gift card website. The software will bring you to the gift card website where you will arrange payment and delivery details.

It is also possible to order Me2You gift cards through Thesaurus Payroll Manager, if required tick to order from Me2You.

For further details 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 Pay/Wage, Payroll, PRSI, Wages

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

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

18
Jul 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Workplace Relations Commission Annual Report Findings

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has released their second annual report revealing interesting and surprising statistics. In 2016, a total of 4,830 inspections were carried out, of which 60% were unannounced. 2,398 breaches of employment legislation were recorded with an average of 1.2 breaches per employer. By far the most common breach was the failure to keep adequate employment records (62%) followed by employment permits irregularities (17%).

Other highlights from the report are:

• 14,400 complaints were made
• €1.5m was recovered in unpaid wages
• Almost 75,000 employees were covered by inspections
• 85% of workplace disputes were resolved

The most common complaints that were heard include:

• 28% Pay related issues
• 15% Unfair dismissal issues
• 12% Working time issues
• 11% Discrimination/equality related
• 9% Trade disputes/IR issues
• 9% Terms and conditions of employment-related

The sectors showing a higher degree of non-compliance were:

• 60% Electrical
• 53% Hair and Beauty
• 49% Construction
• 47% Agriculture
• 45% Wholesale and Retail

Keeping appropriate employment records is not just a legal requirement placed on the employer but is also protection for both the employer and employees. Having proper records in place ensures that information and documents regarding wages, hours worked etc., are readily available in the case of grievances and disputes or a WRC inspection. Not having records in place leaves the employer is at a distinct disadvantage in the event of a dispute and at risk of failing an inspection. Primary to this employers are advised to have robust contracts of employment and policies and procedures in place and to ensure that they are fully compliant and kept up to date.

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

BrightPay - Payroll Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook, Wages

18
Nov 15

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Minimum Wage - Employers, are you up-to-date?

The Minimum Wage is set to increase from 1 January 2016. The rate for adults will rise from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour, an increase of 50 cent.

Minimum Wage applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees, the only exceptions are for close relatives of employers and apprentices under the Industrial Training Act 1967.

The new rates are listed below

  • Experienced Adult Worker - €9.15
  • Under the age of 18 - €6.41
  • In the first year after the date of first employment over the age 18* - €7.32
  • In the second year after the date of first employment over age 18* - €8.24

* Employment experience prior to age 18 is not taken into account for these rates.

Sunday Pay

If not already included in the rate of pay, employees are generally entitled to a premium payment for Sunday working, or paid time off in lieu.

The Living Wage
Recently there have been discussions around the introduction of a Living Wage of €11.50 per hour. Supporting bodies believe this is the required rate of pay in order to have an acceptable standard of living. However, for many small employers such an increase would pose a significant financial burden, which could result in the loss of jobs, rather than the creation.

Compliance
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) holds responsibility for securing compliance with the minimum wage, formerly held by NERA. In 2014 almost 5,600 inspections were carried out on random workplaces across Ireland. These resulted in €861,416 of unpaid wages being recovered.


The Message for Employers
Employers need to be compliant with the minimum wage. Employers need to be sure they remain compliant come 1 January, when the new rates come into effect. To avoid confusion and stress come the holiday period, employers should be looking at reviewing pay rates and contracts of employment now.

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Contract of employment, Pay/Wage

4
Jun 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Changes to Holiday Pay Calculations

As we enter the summer holiday season employers need to ensure that they are paying their employees correctly during annual leave.

A recent decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will impact how some annual leave pay is calculated.
Do you pay employee’s commission? Is the commission calculated based on the amount of sales made or actual work carried out? If yes, according to the ECJ, holiday pay should include commission pay.

The decision was made in the case of Locke v British Gas Trading and Others. Locke was a Sales Representative whose commission made up approximately 60% of his remuneration. After taking two weeks leave in 2011, Locke suffered financially as he was unable to generate sales for the period he was on annual leave.

The ECJ ruled that the purpose of annual leave is to allow a worker to enjoy a period of rest and relaxation with sufficient pay. By not including commission payments with holiday pay, employees are less likely to take annual leave so as to avoid financial hardship.

It has been left to the national courts to determine how to calculate the commission to which a worker is entitled, however the court did suggest that taking an average amount of commission earned over a certain period, e.g. the previous 12 months.

Employers are advised to review their commission policies to establish which, if any, payments need to be included in annual leave pay.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Annual Leave, Contract of employment, Employment Update, Pay/Wage