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17
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Hiring Employees in Ireland

There are a number of steps you need to take when hiring employees in Ireland. This blog will help you get what you need to start hiring.

Background Checks

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2016, an adult will not have to disclose his or her conviction in respect of a range of minor offenses after seven years.

Data obtained by employers must be processed and held in compliance with data protection legislation. If a third party is conducting the background checks, the employer remains a data controller under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, and the third party acts as a processor as it would be processing the personal data of candidates on behalf of the employer.

The employer must ensure that the third party conducts all processing in compliance with the GDPR.

Medical Examinations

Individual offers of employment can be made conditional upon satisfactory health checks, but a prospective employer may be liable under a discrimination claim if the offer is not confirmed based on the information disclosed by the health check.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Employers are required to ensure the safety, health, and welfare at work of all employees. This includes ensuring the prevention of improper conduct or behaviour that is likely to put employees at risk. An employer may require an applicant to submit to a drug or alcohol test to the extent that this is required to ensure that the applicant may safely carry out the proposed role. These tests must be necessary and proportionate.

Contract of Employment

Employers are required to provide employees with key terms and conditions of employment within five days of commencing employment, commonly referred to as ‘The 5 Core Terms’. These include:

  • The full name of the employer and employee
  • Address of the employer
  • The expected duration of the contract (temporary or fixed-term)
  • The rate or method of calculating pay
  • The employers’ expectations of working hours.

Forming a contract can be very complicated. That’s where Bright Contracts steps in. Bright Contracts breaks it all down into a logical series of questions and inputs. All you have to do is provide the answers. The software provides handy tips and guidance where questions might be difficult to understand.

Probationary Period

Although there is no statutory maximum probationary period, an employer will typically provide a probationary period of six months subject to extension at the employer’s discretion. In practice, probationary periods should not be longer than 11 months to ensure that an employee does not accrue service to maintain a claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

When hiring employees in Ireland it is important to conduct necessary background checks, medical checks, drug/alcohol tests, and issue a contract of employment within five days of commencing employment.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Law

9
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The EU Work-Life Balance Directive Ireland

The Irish government has published details of the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022. It will introduce a right to request flexible working for employees with children up to the age of 12 and those with caring responsibilities. It will also introduce a right for employees to take up to five days’ unpaid leave per year to provide medical care for family members or those in their households.

The proposed bill is necessary to implement the EU Work-life Balance Directive, which is due to be transposed by August 2022.

Key Changes

The right to request flexible working

  • Employees who have a child up to the age of 12 and employees who are caring for a relative or someone they live with all have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes for a particular period.
  • Employees will be required to make such requests in writing no longer than six weeks before they intend to commence the period of flexible working. The request must specify the nature of the changes requested, the date of commencement and the duration of the set period.
  • If the request is granted, the employer and employee must sign an agreement outlining the changes to working arrangements, patterns or hours and stating the date of commencement and duration of the set period.
  • At the end of the flexible working arrangement, the employee is entitled to return to the original working arrangements, hours, or patterns.

Leave for medical care purposes

  • Any employee will be allowed to take up to five days unpaid leave per year, where for “serious medical reasons” the employee needs to provide personal care or support to a family member or the person who lives in the same household as the employee. The leave may not be taken in periods of less than one day.
  • Employees must confirm to their employer in writing that they have taken or intend to take this leave, the date of commencement, duration and a statement of the facts entitling the employee to the leave.
  • Employers will be able to request evidence from the employee of their relationship with the person being cared for, the nature of that care and medical certification of the serious medical issue in respect of the person requiring the care.

It is intended that the legislation will be passed and enacted by the August 2022 deadline.

 

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New Legislation is Being Brought to Cabinet this Week

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Posted in Employment Law, Hybrid Working

27
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Mental Well-being in the workplace

As employees return to the workplace after many months of working remotely, it is essential that employers consider the mental well-being of their workforce.

A small amount of stress might make an individual work harder or pay closer attention to detail employers needs to be mindful of the impact that stress can have on an employee’s well-being. A period of poor mental health can make it more difficult for an employee to think, feel and respond to situations which can affect their performance in their day-to-day role. As an employer, it is important to have policies and procedures in place so that you can respond appropriately and provide support as needed.

Employers can take positive steps to support individuals experiencing poor mental health, through actions such as implementing and maintaining a strong and clear mental health policy. By supporting employees experiencing mental health challenges, employers can see real benefits within their organisation.

These include the following:

  • Retaining valuable staff
  • Reducing sickness absence
  • Assisting staff members in reaching their full potential, leading to increased productivity
  • Enhancing health and safety within the workplace
  • Encouraging a healthier and more tolerant workforce

The first step to aid positive mental health in the workplace is to encourage an understanding of the importance of mental wellbeing. Employees who feel understood by their managers and colleagues are more likely to stay at work or return after a period of absence, which can help reduce long-term absences caused by mental health.

Ways employers can aid positive mental health in the workplace:

  • Offering flexible working
  • Invest in mental health training

Employers should be mindful that there are many other reasons why an employee may be struggling within their daily roles. Reasons such as a personal situation, physical illness, impact by the cost-of-living crisis, or the situation in Ukraine can contribute to why an employee may be struggling.

To help those who are struggling employers may consider an open workplace culture to encourage open conversations about mental health. This should make employees feel comfortable speaking openly and without fear or judgement about their mental well-being to their manager or colleagues. Organisations may also consider using an Employee Assistance Programme that can offer ongoing, anonymous assistance to all workers.

In conclusion, any person can suffer from mental illness and identifying if there is an underlying problem can be challenging. It is possible at any time for an employer to have an employee who is suffering from poor mental health. It is important for the employer to know how to support employees who need extra support.

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What You Need to Know About Employee Burnout

 

 

Posted in Health & Safety

21
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

New Legislation is Being Brought to Cabinet this Week

New legislation is being brought to Cabinet to allow parents to take up to five days off work to care for sick children. The new work-life balance laws will introduce unpaid leave for any employee who needs it to care for a family member.

Furthermore, any parent of a child under the age of 12, or a person caring for a relative, will have the right to request reduced or flexible working hours under the proposed new legislation Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman is bringing the legislation to Cabinet outlining the new workers’ rights which will give employees more options.

Under the legislation, employees must give their employer six months’ notice if they need more flexible working arrangements to take care of a child or relative. The employer must respond within four weeks.

Employees will not have to give notice to their employers when seeking unpaid leave to care for a family member. The employer will be able to request evidence of the medical need for the leave.

The legislation will be debated by the Cabinet this week.

Posted in Employment Law

15
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What You Need to Know About Employee Burnout

The switch to remote working in response to the coronavirus has seen a rise in employees reporting that they are working longer hours from home. Whether employees are on-site or working remotely, it is important for HR professionals and management to remain vigilant for signs of burnout among staff.

The term “burnout” is commonly used to describe a situation in which an employee experiences a period of mental or physical fatigue because of high-intensity pressure at work.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that burnout can have a negative impact on someone’s long term health. They also describe burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully.

Impact on employees

Burnout can have a negative impact on employees’ output, reducing their productivity and quality of their work. Individuals often display a drop in morale or low mood, prolonged periods of burnout may even result in the development of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Impact on employers

For employers, burnout can come at a huge financial cost, the drop in productivity and work quality may disrupt the ability to meet customer demand. A lack of employee engagement can also occur as a result which can often influence a company’s culture. Retention rates are likely to worsen if staff begin looking for preferable employment situations elsewhere.

Causes of burnout

There are a variety of factors that may cause an individual to suffer from burnout and it is important to understand that each situation will be different. Burnout will often be attributed to factors at work however there may be outside influences from an employee’s personal life that contributes to burnout.

Common causes of burnout in the workplace include:

  • excessive workloads
  • unequal distribution of work
  • prolonged working hours
  • inability to take rest breaks
  • unrealistic managerial expectations
  • toxic company culture
  • bully and harassment
  • health and safety concerns

 Spotting the signs

It’s important that you are prepared to spot the signs of burnout amongst staff when they present themselves. This can only be achieved by keeping a close eye on employees’ behaviour and performance. It may be difficult to spot but you should be looking out for employees who are arriving early to work or staying late after their contractual hours.

Failure to meet deadlines or an uncharacteristic drop in performance is also usually clear signs that an employee may be struggling with the pressures of work, as well as a sudden change in mood or excessive displays of emotion towards colleagues and third parties.

Responding to staff suffering from burnout

If an employee is showing signs of burnout, it is up to you to address the situation. Due to the nature of burnout solutions may vary for everyone.

  • There are several methods that are likely to prove effective:
  • removing any unnecessary causes of stress or agitation
  • assessing and redistributing workloads where necessary
  • providing extra training on areas of weakness
  • encouraging staff to make use of annual leave and rest breaks
  • investigating and resolving any allegations of bullying or harassment
  • providing access to medical support e.g., EAP

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Posted in Health & Safety

8
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The Great Resignation

Many employers are dealing with the issue of the ‘great resignation. Employees are casting a critical eye on their employer and what they are receiving from their organisation. As a result of this employers are looking for ways to attract and retain their best staff.

The pandemic has placed workers in a position where they could stop and revaluate many aspects of their lives, specifically when and how they work. Employees are becoming more aware of what organisations can offer in the form of benefits and career development opportunities. Employees want to feel personally valued within their workplace.

As an employer, you know how important it is to piece together a winning team. But it’s also important that you retain your great employees and do what you can to avoid losing talent.

Tips to help attract talent to your organisation

1. Develop an employer brand and promote your business as a desirable place to work and progress. Use social media to create brand awareness and publish job vacancies

2. Corporate social responsibility: by recognising and identifying your organisation’s corporate and social responsibilities you can demonstrate to employees the values that matter most to your organisation.

3. Create an employee-focused workplace culture. Employees value their personal time and appreciate it when their employers are considerate of this.

4. Offer benefits that can add value when trying to attract new employees. Offer something that other companies don’t offer. E.g., gym memberships, performance bonuses, team-building activities, free food etc.

To find out how to retain talented employees read our previous blogs:

Don't Forget About Your Valuable Retention Tool - Stay Interviews

10 Tips for Employee Retention

6
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Don't Forget About Your Valuable Retention Tool - Stay Interviews

Exit interviews are common amongst many Irish workforces. They are used to determine what prompted an employee to leave and to provide a final chance to persuade them to stay. Stay interviews give an organisation an opportunity to assess what improvements can be made now to avoid further resignations. They provide a more personal platform than what is currently in place from engagement or satisfaction surveys. It also allows for the building of trust between employees and managers, where both parties can discuss ideas.

A stay interview conducted between a manager and an employee can give an overview of what encourages the person to stay, the improvements that can be made, and what caused them to look for external opportunities. Identifying these issues early and acting on them contributes to long-term retention, increased motivation, improved productivity, and overall success for both the business and its people.

What should a stay interview look like?

Interviews don’t need to be long; they can be completed in as little as 20 minutes. Key questions to cover in the meeting could be what employees look forward to and what they dread about work each day, whether they would recommend the company to others, what would make their role more satisfying and how they would like to be recognised and valued.

What happens after a stay interview?

Organisations that decide to conduct stay interviews should remember that their workforce will expect an outcome so be prepared to implement positive changes. Failure to do so can increase frustrations amongst staff and make them feel that their voice is not heard.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

31
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Preparing for New Sick Pay Rules

Until now, Irish employers have not been obliged to pay employees during sick leave. The new legislation changes that.

The new statutory sick pay rules are due to come into effect imminently in Ireland. Irish employment contracts may provide for a limited period of sick pay, but this has always been at the discretion of the employer. If employers chose not to provide this, affected employees must apply for state-sponsored illness benefits subject to PRSI contributions.

This is now going to change. The obligation to pay an employee sick leave will now be on the employer.

 

What are the changes?

Under the new regime employees will have an entitlement to three days of paid sick leave this year. This is then due to go up to five next year, seven in 2024 and ten in 2025. The increases will be made by way of ministerial order each year. Factors including the state of the economy generally must be considered by the minister when making their decision.

The draft bill does not specify the amount of statutory sick pay. It simply states that an employer must pay a prescribed daily rate for a statutory sick leave payment. The intention of the government is to place a cap on the amount of statutory sick leave. It has been suggested that an employer will only be obliged to pay up to 70% of wages subject to a cap of €110 a day.

Employees will need to have at least 13 weeks of continuous service before they are eligible for statutory sick pay. It’s important to note that employees will be obliged to furnish a medical certificate in respect of each day of statutory sick leave.

If an employer already provides more favourable sick leave benefits to an employee, they will not be obliged to comply with the statutory sick pay rules. However, the employer will have to demonstrate that any discretionary or pre-existing scheme is more favourable than the one provided in the legislation.

 

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Sick Leave/Absence Management

28
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What You Need to Know About Staff Handbooks

The most essential document governing the employment relationship is the contract of employment. If you don’t want your employment contract to be too long and untidy you should be referring to your staff handbook when talking about grievances, discipline, dignity at work, anti-bullying, and other workplace policies.

Staff handbooks should be easy to read, and a copy should be easily available to all employees. New employees must read the handbook and indicate that they have done so by giving their signature. It is important to review and amend the policies regularly to ensure any changes in the law or best practices are reflected.

Most important policies and procedures in the workplace

In Ireland, the most important policies, and procedures to have in place are those covering

  1. Grievances
  2. Discipline
  3. Dignity at work (anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and equal opportunity)
  4. Health and Safety

Other topics that should be considered are, sick leave, holiday leave & pay, hours of work, internet and email usage, dress code, expenses procedure retirement and pension benefits etc.

Bright Contracts

With Bright Contracts, we provide ready-made handbooks that fully conforms to the latest employment law guidelines. The software allows you to add additional sections to handbooks, edit, delete or reorganise the built-in- content and you can easily add your own. You can preview your handbook at any time while you build it and print or export it when it is ready. It’s great as you need no employment law knowledge, we do all the hard work.

 

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Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Staff Handbook

23
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Dismiss an Employee

Unfortunately, as an employer or business owner, you need to know how to dismiss an employee. No matter what the reason is there is a process that you should always adhere to.

The most important thing to consider is the reason for the termination and if you have taken any steps to try and assist your employee. If you are dealing with an underperforming employee, you shouldn’t automatically think of dismissing them. You should instead understand why the employee is underperforming and assist them in any way to help them improve.

Investigate the situation

The first thing that needs to be done if you are considering dismissing an employee is to formally investigate the situation. Be sure that the documentation clearly outlines the initial complaint or disciplinary issue with the employee as well as the relevant details of the investigation itself. A full list of participants, including what was said in any of the interviews.

After completing the investigation, you may discover the complaints or performance issues that were raised in the interviews were a misunderstanding, a false allegation or not a fault of the employee in question. In most cases, the situation can be resolved with a conversation.

Provide a warning

If after investigating and you conclude that the employee is at fault, you will need to provide them with an official warning. Where the complaint is minor or does not require further action no other disciplinary action needs to be taken.

For more serious incidents, make sure that the employee understands that you are giving them a warning and what the next steps will be if they fail to improve.

Be Professional

If you have conducted your investigations, issued a warning, and have proof of the breach of contract, then you have no option left but to dismiss your employee. For the protection of the company, it is vital that you have the right reasons and supporting evidence for the dismissal. When it comes to delivering the news, you must do this face to face with the employee.

You should adhere to the following points:

  • Be prepared, and calmly explain the reasons for the dismissal
  • Reiterate the previous warning that has been given and refer to the documentation
  • Ensure that the process is short and does not linger for longer than necessary

For legal reasons, you should document and issue the dismissal in written format.

Honour existing agreements

Just because the employee has left does not mean that you can ignore any post dismissal laws that are in place. You must continue to follow both the company policy and legal protocols, including the payments for all hours worked up until the moment of dismissal. If you are required to give your employee two weeks’ notice you may dismiss them immediately, but you will need to provide them with the equivalent of two weeks’ pay.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employment Law

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