Archive RSS
Blog  »  June 2016
Jun 16

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Protected Leave - Maternity Leave

In this article we look at Maternity Leave in Ireland, continuing with our series of blogs on Protected Leave.

The Maternity Protection Acts 1994-2004 govern maternity leave, which comprises of 26 weeks paid benefit from the Department of Social Protection, provided the employee has made the required number of PRSI contributions. It also allows for a further optional 16 weeks extension of maternity which is unpaid.

There is no obligation on an employer to pay an employee whilst they are on maternity leave, but at their own discretion employers may pay additional Maternity Pay. It is advisable to include any details regarding payment or non-payment while on Maternity Leave in detail in a Maternity Leave/Pay section in the company handbook.

Under the legislation at least 2 weeks have to be taken before the end of the week of the baby's expected birth and at least 4 weeks after. Generally, employees take 2 weeks before the birth and the remaining weeks after. If the employee qualifies for Maternity Benefit at least 2 and no more than 16 weeks must be taken before the end of the week the baby is due.

From an EU comparison, in terms of duration, our maternity leave is relatively long with a total of 42 weeks leave, however with 26 paid at only 230e and the rest unpaid we are the only country in the EU with no period of Well-Paid Leave (well-paid is defined as at least 2/3’s of a salary).

Managing Maternity in the Workplace

Employees are obliged to inform their employer about a pregnancy as soon as possible. To ensure a healthy and safe work environment for a pregnant employee, employers should ensure to have pregnancy risk assessment included as part of their health and safety assessment.

During the employee’s pregnancy she will be entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments.

The employee will fill out a Form MB10 and the employer will be requested to sign and stamp it so the employee can apply for payment of Maternity benefit from the Dept. of Social Protection. If the employee chooses to take the additional 16 weeks unpaid Maternity Leave the employer must complete an “Application for maternity leave credits” form and send to the department.

Maternity leave is classed as Protective Leave, as such women on maternity leave will be entitled to:

  • their full annual leave entitlement
  • any bank holidays that fall during their maternity leave
  • the right to return to work

Being listed as a protected characteristic, incorrect management of pregnancy and maternity leave could leave employers open to discrimination claims. To ensure your business is managing maternity correctly, employers are advised to have a clear maternity leave policy in place.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Jun 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Bright Contracts IPU Partnership

Bright Contracts is delighted to have partnered with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and to have created a unique, tailored solution for IPU members.

Partnering with the IPU is very exciting and the combined result means that IPU members have exclusive access to watertight customised policies and procedures that set consistently high standards across IPU members.

Having launched the offering in February 2016, the response from IPU members has been extremely positive. It is extremely gratifying to hear members comment on the detailed, relevant content, as well as the functionality of the software.

What Bright Contracts offers IPU Members

  • Company and staff policies and procedures that have been written for pharmacies.
  • Sample job descriptions, include Pharmacy Technician and Supervising Pharmacist.
  • Legally compliant employment contracts for all staff.
  • All content approved and recommended by the IPU.

Benefits for IPU members

  • Peace of mind regarding compliance with ever-changing employment law.
  • No need to worry about keeping employee documentation up-to-date with employment law changes, Bright Contracts automatically updates users with employment law and best practice changes.
  • Full flexibility for individual pharmacists to amend content to suit their own pharmacy.
  • A low cost solution with no long term contracts, Bright Contracts offers a solution to expensive outsourcing providers.
  • Free telephone and email support means users never have to worry about any software issues, the Bright Contracts team will always be on hand to help.

Availing of the Service

IPU members can access to a FREE Trial.

To access the software members first require a password, which is available from the IPU Training Department. The IPU can also provide members with a full “Getting Started Guide”.

On receipt of the password, the software can be downloaded from the Bright Contracts website under the TRY/BUY page.

Based on the success of the project so far, we very much look forward to working with the IPU into the future.

The Bright Contract’s industry customisation service is available to professional bodies or groups looking to set professionally high standards as well as offer value to their members. For further information call the Bright Contracts Team on 01 8499 699.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Jun 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Euro 2016 - Avoid having to issue a workplace red card

Euro 2016 starts this Friday 10 June, with France v Romania kicking off proceedings in Stade de France, Paris. Whether your employees are die-hard football fans or fare weather followers, the Euros are more than likely going to be a key water cooler conversation over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately for employers, major sporting events pose a management challenge as employees look to support their team, regardless of the day, or time of day.

On a positive note, getting the management of sporting events, such as the Euros, right can be a great way to inject fun in the workplace and increase employee morale.

Below we look at some of the challenges and how best to manage them.

The Management Challenges

Leave Requests

Whether it is multiple holiday requests or employees looking for time off to watch the game, the chances are employers will have increased leave requests during this time. First and foremost, employers will need to ensure business demands can be met, however where possible employers are advised to take a flexible approach to such requests:

  • can you be flexible with holiday requests
  • can shift swaps be permitted
  • is it possible to allow staff to make up the time before or after the football match?

Whatever process you follow, be it first come first served or pulling names out of a hat, it must be fair and consistently applied in a non-discriminatory fashion.

Sickness Absence

Sickness absence in the workplace often increases during sporting events. Employers are advised to monitor attendance records during the period, including reviewing sickness levels or late attendance due to post match celebrations. As with any period of unauthorised absences, unexplained or questionable attendance could result in formal disciplinary proceedings. Carrying out a return-to-work interview is always a recommended approach to managing short-term absences and should form part of any sickness absence policy.

Watching in Work

You may decide to screen the games in the workplace. If going down this route, it is advisable to again set some ground rules, such as; the employee must first obtain their manager’s permission to watch the game and that they understand that their work must not be compromised by watching the game.

It is also worth considering whether or not you will permit employees to watch the Euros on the internet. If employees are not allowed to watch the Euros on the internet during work hours it should be made clear to them that if they are found doing so, it will be a disciplinary matter. Be careful however, if you intend to monitor internet usage then this should be made clear to employees. Covert monitoring should not be conducted, so be sure to check your internet policies.

So to employers who wish to see the Euros pass off smoothly without having to issue any of their own red cards, the message is, be prepared. Agree an approach before the tournament begins, clearly communicate it to staff, and apply it consistently.

Enjoy the football.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Jun 16

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Paternity Leave - employers are you prepared?

Over the next number of weeks we are going to look at Working Time Protected Leave legislation in Ireland, this legislation is in place to protect employees and includes leave such as; Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Carer’s Leave, Parental Leave & Force Majeure Leave. Today we will start with Paternity Leave.

In last year’s budget, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had agreed to legislate to allow for fathers/partners to take two weeks’ paid paternal leave.

The legislation will allow fathers to take the leave at any stage within 26 weeks of the birth or placement of the child in adoption situations.

The new legislation is due to come into force in September this year and when it does it will mean that for the first time in history, the role of fathers in postnatal care will be formally recognized on our little island. From September, every employer in Ireland must offer new fathers/partners two weeks’ paternity leave following the birth of a child.  Statutory paternity pay is due to be set at €230 per week, which is in line with current maternity pay. As with the maternity pay, employers are under no obligation to pay the employee while they are out on Paternity Leave. Employers should however, update their company handbook to include a policy for the new Paternity Leave when it does come in. 

Great though it is to finally have some leave in place for fathers, Ireland still has a long way to go before reaching the dizzy heights of paternity leave Scandinavian-style, where the model is usually one of paid parental leave to be shared between both parents, with some non-transferable months. In Sweden for example, parents can take up to sixteen months of leave, paid up to 80% of salary (with a cap of €4,000 per month). Our closest neighbours in the UK allow 2 weeks paid Paternity Leave but have also introduced “Shared Parental Leave” of up to 50 weeks after the birth/placement of a child which can be shared between both parents.

In comparison, Ireland comes close to the bottom of the European table in terms of family leave, so Paternity Leave, even at just 2 weeks is very welcome.

Those countries that embrace paternity leave and shared parental leave are recognising;

  1. the value of both parents in the first year of a child's life
  2. the role and importance of working mothers.

The introduction of paid paternity leave in Ireland might be over due, but is certainly a positive step. Employers are well advised to embrace the change and actively support new parents.

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks