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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

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.

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, 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

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

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

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

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

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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

16
Apr 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Worst excuses for not paying the minimum wage!

This year is marks the 15th anniversary of National Minimum Wage in the UK. To coincide with the anniversary, HMRC have released a list of some of the most unusual excuses given by employers about why they don’t pay their employees the legal wage. Reasons include:

• “I don’t think my workers know anything about the NMW because they don’t speak English.”
• “When the NMW goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below the NMW. I don’t think it’s right to ignore the rises in NMW.”
• “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’, or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
• An employee ran out of the premises when HMRC officers arrived to check for NMQ infringements. The same employee then returned, minus the work pinafore, pretending to be a customer.
• One employee claimed to be a friend of the owner and only in the restaurant as they were in the area. HMRC offices returned on a different day to find the person in the kitchen preparing food.

NERA have responsibility for carrying out workplace inspections and investigating possible infringements in Irish workplaces. Whilst the above excuses are from British employers, Irish employers are not all innocent either. For the period January 2013 to June 2013 €420,941 in unpaid wages was recovered from Irish employers, for the same period in 2012 €426,818 was recovered.

Minimum wage in Ireland for experienced adults is €8.65. An experienced adult is any individual over 18 with 2 years work experience of any kind.

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Employment Contract, Wages

10
Mar 14

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Have we caught up with pay equality?

The gender pay gap is still very much a controversial issue right across Europe.

Recent research by the European Commission revealed that on average across Europe women’s earnings are 16.4% below those of men. According to the statistics, gender pay differences are highest in Estonia at 30%, Slovenia leads the table with only 2.5% and Ireland is placed in 10th position with 14.4%, ahead of countries such as the UK, Germany and France.

In terms of sector, the gender pay gap is generally higher in the financial and insurance sector. In Ireland pay inequality raises to 20.6% in business economy workplaces.

The gender pay gap for those under 25 years of age is lowest in almost all European countries, and gradually increases as women get older. Reflecting the fact that, women’s family responsibilities do contribute to inequality figures. This would suggest that greater flexibility around sharing of parental leave between both the mother and father would be beneficial.

However, responsibility does also lie with employers; employers have an obligation to ensure that where men and women are performing the same or similar duties, then they are entitled to be paid the same rate. Where this is found not to be the case, employers could find themselves defending an Equality Tribunal claim, as was the case for an Garda Siochana in 2012 when clerical staff successfully brought a case of unequal pay treatment in which the Garda where ordered to close a pay gap of €9,000 per year.

Last Saturday 8th March was International Women’s Day. The day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. Considering these result, it is fair to say that equal pay is an area where further action is required.

European Gender Pay Gap by Country

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Payroll, Wages

19
Dec 13

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Christmas Bonuses

Christmas is a time for giving! As such, many employers use it as opportunity to give back to their employees for their hard-work and contribution throughout the year. Done correctly, bonuses can be an excellent way of motivating and engaging staff.

However, over the last number of years companies have found it increasingly difficult to be able to afford bonuses. This year Eason bookstores has deferred paying Christmas Bonus to over 800 staff in an effort to reduce costs.

Companies, who have paid bonuses for many years and then stop, need to do so cautiously, as the bonus may have become an implied term of the contract of employment. As such, stopping bonus payments could be seen as a breach of contract. Easons itself is in deep negotiation with Siptu regarding their bonus payments.

One way to protect the company against this is to have a clear written statement on bonus payments in the contract of employment. The statement should clearly state that any bonus payments will be non-contractual, or at the very least, clarify that the Company reserves the right to amend the structure of the bonus scheme.

Employers should bear in mind that, monetary bonuses will be taxable, however employees can receive one non-monetary gift per year up to the value of €250 which will be exempt from PAYE/PRSI.

Possible options for utilising this benefit include:

  • Vouchers: these generally include:

OneForAll Gift Vouchers
Restaurant Vouchers
Supermarket Vouchers

  • A turkey or ham 
  • A case of steaks
  • A team lunch

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employment Contract, Wages

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