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Blog  »  September 2013
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

24
Sep 13

Posted by
Paul Byrne

What our customers say!

In a recent customer survey, 97.82% of respondents ranked the quality of our customer support as Excellent or Good.

This customer support covers our payroll software (Thesaurus Payroll Manager and BrightPay), our employment contracts software (Bright Contracts) and our accounts software (Solutions Plus) and is free to all registered users.

While the excellent/good percentage achieved would be way ahead of industry standards, we hope to reduce the 2.18% who ranked our support as fair or poor!

Posted in Accounts Software, Bright Contracts News, Employment Contract, Payroll Software

16
Sep 13

Posted by
Alan Kelly

The Importance of a Signed Contract of Employment

The simple fact is that every employee who works for your business must receive a written contract of employment. This is outlined in Section 3 of the Terms of Employment Act, 1994, which states “an employer shall, not later than 2 months after the commencement of an employee’s employment … give or cause to be given to the employee a statement in writing containing the following particulars of the terms of the employee’s employment”

The Importance of a Written Contract of Employment

It is important to note that every employee has a contract of employment, even where one is not given in writing. This is because implied terms and conditions can exist based on the working employment history. Thus, a custom and practice may be deemed a contractual entitlement where the employee comes to rely on that term. The difficulty with this kind of arrangement is that the employer and the employee may well have different views as to what are the implied terms and, where such views clash, difficulties in the employment relationship will no doubt arise. Accordingly, it is very important for an employer to clearly outline terms and conditions in writing to avoid any confusion or ambiguity.

In New Cityview Press Ltd. -v- Breslin (PW55/2003), a dispute arose as to what bonus arrangements would apply. The EAT found in favour of the employee stating that in order to establish “justice between the parties” a “fair, reasonable and just approach” would be to find in favour of the employee. Thus, the failure to issue a written contract outlining the bonus entitlements resulted in the employer breaching an implied custom and practice.

In Hall -v- Crowe & Dolly Heffernans (UD1288/2002) the EAT held that a contributory factor behind their decision that the employee had been unfairly dismissed was the employer’s failure to furnish the employee with a contract of employment.

The Importance of a Signed Contract of Employment

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly important for employers to ensure that employees sign their contract. In the case of Kerry Foods -v- Donnegan (PW68/2003) a dispute arose over overtime payments. The employer argued that they had issued contracts of employment which clearly specified that employees were not entitled to overtime payments. The EAT accepted that contracts existed with these overtime terms. However, they were not satisfied that the employee had actually received the contract as there were no signed copies. Therefore, the employer could not establish that the employees were in fact aware of the overtime policy and as a result the EAT found favour of the employees. Another example is Malone -v- Dunnes Stores (UD1299/2002) where an employee claimed that she was constructively dismissed largely because she was constantly transferred between departments. The EAT, however, dismissed her claim largely due to the fact that then employer could clearly evidence that the employee’s signed contract clearly outlined that she would be required to work across all departments. Therefore, the employee did not have a case as the company had not broken her terms and conditions.

Steps for an Employer

  1. You should not simply just issue your employee with a written contract of employment; you must also take positive steps to ensure that their employees return a signed copy of that contract.
  2. Take time to ensure that the contracts of employment contain sufficient clauses to govern the working relationship and that the contract will work exactly the way it is needed to.

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

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

12
Sep 13

Posted by
Audrey Mooney

FREE BUSINESS EVENT FOR IRISH SMEs – TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

Very few things in life are free so why not avail of a free event to help your business. If you own or manage a small business or are thinking of starting your own business you should visit www.takingcareofbusiness.ie to register as places are limited.

Attendees will:

  • Meet with representatives from a number of State Offices & Agencies
  • Get information & advice
  • Find out ways to save your business money
  • Receive support to help you in your business

Speakers on the day will include representatives from National Employment Rights Authority, Companies Registration Office, Department of Social Protection, Enterprise Ireland, Revenue as well as many others. Please see the eflyer for full details - https://www.takingcareofbusiness.ie/eflyer.pdf

Free Admission

Printworks Conference Centre, Dublin Castle

22nd October 2013 8.30am to 2.30pm

Initiative of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation

Posted in SME

11
Sep 13

Posted by
Audrey Mooney

HSE WEST ORDERED TO PAY €70,000 TO A MEDICAL SECRETARY IN A DISCRIMINATION CASE

In a recent case, A Medical Secretary v HSE West the Equality Tribunal found that the employer had discriminated against the employee who has a bowel disorder.

In July 2007 the unnamed medical secretary was told that she had to move from her office which had a convenient toilet to an office where it was more difficult to access the toilet. The employee said the illness was difficult to manage and it often caused her embarrassment. The employee was placed on sick leave as she was unable to comply with the new working arrangements. Medical evidence was provided by the employee stating that she could return to work if she was provided a single office close to toilet facilities. The employee was offered alternative roles but she didn’t think they were suitable for her.

The Tribunal found that the HSE did discriminate against the employee and that it failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation.

The Equality Officer awarded the employee €70,000 and ordered the HSE to allocate the employee a single-occupancy office close to toilet facilities.

Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals

9
Sep 13

Posted by
Gerri McGinley

IRISH EMPLOYMENT LAW AND GARDEN LEAVE

Garden Leave is a clause that may be inserted in a contract of employment which means that an employee is prevented from working for a competitor for a stated period of time or within a particular area after leaving their job. This can sometimes be invoked where an employee is not working his/her notice but is still being paid by the employer.

Employers need to make sure that they do not make the conditions of Garden Leave too restrictive as happened in the case of Octavio Hernandez v Vodafone Ireland limited where the employee successfully appealed his case to the High Court.

The court held that Vodafone had wrongfully prevented him from taking up employment with O2 as this impacted on him having a continuous income to provide for his family.

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

Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract

6
Sep 13

Posted by
Laura Murphy

IRISH EMPLOYER ORDERED TO PAY €5,000 IN UNFAIR DISMISSAL CASE.

The Case

In a recent case at the Labour Court an employee claimed that she was summarily dismissed shortly after having made a complaint under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. She stated that she had been notified by text that her employment was being terminated.

Her employer argued that she had been dismissed due to performance and interpersonal issues. However the employee stated that no such issues had been raised formally with her.

The Labour Court found in favour of the employee, stating that she “was dismissed in contravention of the normal standards or procedural fairness that are to be expected from an employer and she was not offered fair procedures”. The employee was awarded €5,000.

Lesson Learnt

This case illustrates how failure to follow fair procedures when dealing with a dismissal can leave employers open to costly compensation orders.

The Labour Relations Commission Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures sets out minimum terms that employers should abide by when handling disciplinary and dismissal cases.

In order to help avoid legal claims, Companies should have well drafted policies and procedures in place which should be adhered to by all.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook