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Blog  »  January 2016
29
Jan 16

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Tesco are in the news again!

Tesco Ireland has confirmed it is seeking to cut pay and conditions for about 6% of its 14,500 employees. With this move close to 1000 of Tesco's employees will be hit with significant pay cuts.
The supermarket retailer has announced that it is seeking to transfer some "longer serving staff" from their pre - 1996 "inflexible" contracts to conditions agreed upon during negotiations with trade unions in 2006.

The company's spokesperson said that "our pre-1996 contract does not meet the needs of today's customers and was greed 20 years ago at a time when stores didn't open on Sundays or late nights. As a result we have too many colleagues rostered during our quietest days instead of our busiest; and guaranteed overtime which doesn't take account of the needs of each store or give colleagues equal opportunity to work overtime when it arises.

Mandate, the trade union representing the majority of affected workers, claimed cuts could cost workers about €6,500 a year but added the would be strongly opposed by staff. Shock and anger and now led to determination as the workers say they will resist any changes that are pushed through without negotiations. The mischievous attempts to attribute these cuts to "customer services" has gained no traction with anyone.

It aims to implement the changes by mid-April. Staff generally earn €11.97 per hour on the 2006 contracts, those at the upper end of the pay scale earn €14.31. The majority of those on pre-1996 contracts would be at this upper end given the length of their tenure with the company, says Mandate.
The retailer has said it would compensate workers for loss of earnings and would work out the extent of this compensation in discussions with staff and unions in the coming weeks.

 

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26
Jan 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Accessing employee emails, what you need to know.

As an employer you have the right to monitor your employees’ work phone calls, emails and internet access on company devices. This was reaffirmed recently in a case heard by the European Court of Human Rights (Barbulescu v Romania). In reaching their decision, the Court was heavily influenced by the company’s internal policies, banning the use of company property for personal purposes and informing all employees that surveillance would take place.

What does this case mean for employers?

  • Comprehensive Internet Policies: it is a must for employers to have internet usage policies in place. These policies should clearly state the rules on how employees should use the internet, as well as how monitoring is conducted. All policies should be clearly communicated to staff. 
  • Regular Reviews: the world of communication is fast moving; company policies should be regularly reviewed to take account of this and tailored to meet the needs of individual organisations.
  • Monitoring: monitoring of email and internet usage should never be done covertly. In order to avoid a culture of mistrust in the workplace, monitoring should be done cautiously, ideally only where an employer can show that they had specific reasons for doing so e.g. as part of a disciplinary investigation. 
  • Personal Equipment: Whilst monitoring can be done on work devices employers are not permitted to monitor an employee’s own personal device. In some workplaces the use of personal equipment can be disruptive and often a health and safety issue. In managing this issue employers are advised to consider separate policies outlining when such equipment may be used. 

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Posted in Social Media, Staff Handbook

26
Jan 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

When the love is gone! What happens when the employment relationship breaks down?

February might be the month of love, but what happens when the love ends in an employment relationship. How do you end that relationship?

The employment relationship can breakdown for a number of reasons and sometimes employers feel like they are left with no alternative but to terminate the employment.

Employee dismissal can be a dangerous area and employers can leave themselves at risk of an unfair dismissals claim. In 2014 the majority of all Employment Appeals Tribunal cases were unfair dismissal claims with the total awarded by the EAT reaching almost €5,000,000.

The key to avoiding such claims, particularly for small employers, is to take a step back from the emotion and aim to take a rational approach.

Furthermore, a second vital component of any dismissal case will be the Disciplinary Procedure. A disciplinary procedure sets out the process that should be followed in an employee dismissal. Without a disciplinary procedure in place it will be near impossible for an employer to defend any unfair dismissal claims against them. 

It’s too late to implement a disciplinary procedure once there is an issue. Employers should protect themselves and put one in place immediately, ensuring that everyone in the organisation is familiar with it.

Some key components of any Disciplinary Procedure will include:

  • Lists of unacceptable behaviours: let employees know what is acceptable.
  • Early informal intervention: never procrastinate; address issues as soon as they appear.
  • A fair process: a tribunal will look to see if a process has been applied.
  • Opportunity to Appeal: employees should always be given the opportunity to appeal any decision.

No matter how gross the crime, caution should always be applied when dismissing an employee. For that reason it is always advisable to seek external assistance.

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Posted in Company handbook, Dismissals

5
Jan 16

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

€150,000 awarded to four Tesco Workers

Tesco has been ordered to pay out over €150,000 in compensation to four of its former staff who were wrongly sacked as a result of a flawed disciplinary process by the company.

The retailer fired the long-serving staff members for failing to pay immediately for food they consumed on 2 different occasions, even though it was common practice among all employees to pay for the meals at a later stage.

Employees at the branch were not allowed to carry cash or purses in the cáfe at the time, as per company policy, and as such paying for food from the tip jar was the norm. Therefore the practice had arisen out of necessity because the employees could not carry cash on their person while on duty.

The four women were suspended with full pay after a security guard witnessed them serving themselves food without appearing to pay for it. Based on CCTV footage Tesco claimed the four staff members had breached company policy and had engaged in theft and fraud.

All four women stated they believed they had done nothing wrong but would have ceased the practice immediately if they had been informed they were in breach of company policy.

The tribunal said the conduct of Tesco's disciplinary and appeal process into the allegations was unsatisfactory and described some of its findings as "irrational". It further noted that Tesco's honesty and purchase policies are not sufficiently clear when it comes to the consumption of food by employees.

Accordingly the Tribunal found that the company's dismissal of the four employees was disproportionate and the EAT ordered the Irish division of the British Grocery company to pay a total of €153,521 - awarded in sums of €61,918, €41,000, €35,000 and €15,103 to the quartet.

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