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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

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

29
Jun 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

€10K awarded to steeple worker who was told to “wing it” with no harness

The Workplace Relations Commissioner has awarded €10k to a worker for unfair dismissal when he was dismissed after suffering a back injury while carrying out work on a scaffold in with no safety equipment.

The complainant’s role was to make digital prints and then fit the products to buildings or vehicles. If the job required two people, then the complainant was accompanied by the respondent otherwise he went on his own.

In September of 2015 while working on site in Belfast he was “required to work at heights without a harness”. He said he was also told to operate a cherry picker even though he did not hold a license to do so. The court also heard that later in the month the complainant was previously told to ‘wing it’ when doing installation work on a church steeple with no harness.

In November 2015 the complainant injured his back while working on a scaffold with no safety harness and was on certified sick leave for 9 days. He said that while he was on sick leave he saw his job being advertised, the ad was later removed when he raised concerns with his boss.

In July 2016 while back on site, the complainant said he left a job he believed to be a health and safety risk when he was asked to work at a height of 15m without a harness. He later made a formal complaint to his employer but left 15 minutes into the meeting for being verbally abused for not completing the job. The complainant said he was constructively dismissed and had not worked since.

Finding

The officer who heard the case said that she found the complaint was “well founded” based on the uncontested evidence. The respondent didn’t attend the hearing. She directed the respondent to pay the worker €10,000 within 42 days of the ruling.

Learning Points

There are many things to take away from this case, first and foremost that the health and safety of an employee under no circumstance should ever be compromised. This case highlights the importance for employers in all industry's to carry out their own risk assessments. Employers should also note the importance of not only having a clear grievance and dispute procedures for staff to reference but for the employer to follow them correctly.

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Health & Safety, Sick Leave/Absence Management, Staff Handbook

28
Apr 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Absence Management

Managing employee absences is an on-going challenge for managers right across the country, from SMEs to multi-nationals.

According to research by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) 11 million days are lost each year in Ireland due to employee absences, at a cost of €1.5 billion per year to the economy.

One of the most effective ways of managing employee absences and helping to prevent reoccurring instances is to conduct Return to Work Interviews with employees. Return to work interviews are one-to-one meetings between an employee and their manager to discuss the employee’s absence.

To assist managers conduct these meetings, which can sometimes be quite sensitive, we’ve put together a short guide and template form to the help managers structure the meeting. This new material can be found under the Support section of our website.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Sick Leave/Absence Management

20
Feb 14

Posted by
Alan Kelly

How to deal with employee absence due to bad weather

The last few weeks has seen the UK and Ireland battle record-breaking storms and floods. This has literally left many employers high and dry. So what do you do if your employee’s can’t attend work due to bad weather?

Employees must attend work unless they are on authorised absence, or if they are unwell. Under their contracts of employment, employees still have to attend work, even in extreme weather conditions. If the workplace remains open during the bad weather and the employee cannot make it in, the employer can treat the absence as un-authorised. In such situations, employers would be well within their rights to refuse to pay an employee who cannot make it into work.

However, employers should consider the impact of deducting pay on productivity and employee morale in the long run in these circumstances, especially if the weather makes it impossible to get to the workplace or the workplace is closed through no fault of the employees. Often in these situations the financial burden is compensated by the positive impact on morale and productivity.

In general, it is recommended that employers try to implement as flexible an approach as possible. Possible options can include:

• Having the employee take time off as annual leave. It should be noted that employers also cannot force their employees to take annual leave unless this is expressly provided for in the employment contract.
• Consider whether the employee can work from home
• Allow the employee to make up the time at a later date

Whatever option you do go with, make sure it is clearly communicated and consistently applied to all staff. It’ll make managing the situation a lot easier when the situation does arise.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract, Sick Leave/Absence Management

16
Oct 13

Posted by
Laura Murphy

What will the budget changes to Illness Benefit mean to Employers?

There have been mixed opinions on Budget 2014. Relief that tax rates have not been increased. Anger at cuts to pensioners and maternity benefits. But how will Budget 2014 affect employers?

An unexpected announcement made in the Budget and one that has been relatively unreported in the media was the rise of waiting days for Illness Benefit from after 3 days leave to after 6 days leave. Despite the lack of media attention this is not something employers can ignore!

The effect of sick leave on employers

Sick leave already has a significant negative effect on Irish businesses. According to IBEC’s 2011 Guide to Managing Absence over 11 million working days are lost in Ireland every year due to sickness, costing businesses €1.5 billion or €818 per employee. The report also found that on average employees missed 5.98 days per year.

Impact of the illness benefit change to employers

No matter how you approach sick leave and sick pay in your company this budget change is very likely to have a negative impact on your business:

A.      If, as an employer, you pay company sick pay in addition to illness benefit, you will be facing increased costs.

For Example: An employee earns 300 per week and is off sick for 1 week*[i]:

 

Company Sick Pay for the 1 week

Illness Benefit recouped by Employer

Actual Cost to Employer

Previously

300

94

206

As per Budget 2014

300

0

300

Additional Cost to Employer

94

 

Employers need to review sickness absence and sickness pay policies in their contracts of employment and staff handbooks. They need to consider:

  • Do the policies specifically refer to the illness benefit received from the State? Do the terms need to be changed?
  • Can the company afford the additional cost to their sick pay scheme? Is this something that needs to be amended?
B.      If as an employer, you do not pay sick pay in addition to illness benefit you may also want to review your policies and procedures. Will employees be forced to come into work when they are genuinely unwell because they cannot afford to take time off? Will this result in greater spread of illnesses across the company, further affecting workplace productivity and the cost to the business.
 

How can companies minimise the impact of sickness absences and the change to illness benefit?

Companies looking to minimise the impact of this budget change, and minimise the cost of sick leave in general, need to look at reducing sick leave levels in the workplace. Prevention is better than cure. Key to reducing sick leave will be to have effective sick leave policies and procedures in place. A sick leave policy will clearly set out the procedures that should be followed by both employees and management in cases of absence through illness. Implementing certain steps, such as having to speak to a manager to report your absence, or back to work interviews are proven to significantly reduce unnecessary sick leave absences. According to the CIPD’s 2013 Absence Management Survey, introducing a new sick leave policy was the top solution implemented by companies to manage short-term absences, with 63% of respondents having updated/implemented a policy.                               

By reducing the level of unnecessary sickness absence employers will be better placed to support those employees who are genuinely ill and who cannot and should not attend work, whether illness benefit applies or not. 


[i] The below assumptions have been made in the example above:
  • Employee normally works 5 days within the day range of Monday to Saturday. For the purpose of illness benefit the week is Monday to Saturday. An employee out of work Monday to Friday will be considered to have been out for 6 consecutive days under illness benefit.
  • Employees initial day of incapacity is Monday
  • Employer normally pays for the entire period of incapacity

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employment Update, Sick Leave/Absence Management

11
Oct 13

Posted by
Laura Murphy

World Mental Health Day

10th October was World Mental Health Day. This is a good opportunity for employers to consider how the working environment affects mental health.

Across Europe, job-related stress is increasing. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work found that 80% of the working population of Europe think the number of people suffering from job-related stress will increase. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), stress has become the biggest cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers in the UK. Work place stress will cause disengaged employees, with reduced productivity resulting in a loss of profitability for organisations.

It is reported that the main causes of work related stress are:

  • Workload
  • Non-work relationships/family
  • Management style/relationships at work
  • Organisational change
  • Pressure to meet targets

To prevent stress becoming an issue in your work place look out for signs (e.g. increased absences, less sociable than usual), communicate regularly with the employee to discuss whether they require additional assistance.

Putting policies in place that clearly set out The Company’s commitment to assist employees suffering from stress will also help. Such policies might include anti-harassment/bullying policies, family friendly policies and grievance policies. For further information on how you might implement any of these policies read more at www.brightcontracts.ie.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Health & Safety, Sick Leave/Absence Management

29
Sep 13

Posted by
Laura Murphy

How to manage sickness absence

Managing sick leave can be a challenge for every employer. It is essential that businesses find the balance between supporting those employees who are genuinely sick and minimising unnecessary absences in order to reduce costs. Costs can include:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Employing temporary cover
  • Paying other employees additional overtime costs

The 2011 IBEC Guide to Managing Absence found that over 11 million days are lost to absence in Ireland every year, costing businesses €1.5 billion or €818 per employee. The report also found that employees missed 5.98 days on average, an absence rate of 2.6%.

Managing Absences

Absence levels can be addressed by taking some simple steps:

  • Sickness Policy: there should be a policy in place that clearly sets out the procedure that will be followed by both employees and management in cases of absence through illness. The policy should be clearly communicated and consistently implemented. The default company handbook in Bright Contracts contains such a policy.
  • Record, Monitor & Measure: monitoring and measuring enable employers to identify trends and recognise points at which absence levels need to be further investigated.

Return to Work Interviews: these are informal meetings between a line manager and an employee on the first day the employee returns to work. Return to work interviews are consistently rated as one of the most effective methods of managing absenteeism levels and it is recommended that they should be included in all sickness absence policies. 

Bright Contracts – Employment contracts and handbooks.
BrightPay – Payroll Software

Read more at www.brightcontracts.ie >

Posted in Company handbook, Sick Leave/Absence Management