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Blog  »  February 2017
Feb 17

Posted by
Lorraine McEvoy

Constitutionality of WRC questioned

Leave has been granted to challenge the constitutionality of the Workplace Relations Commission procedures to determine employment rights disputes.

The actions could have important consequences for the WRC, which was established in 2015. It replaced the previous Employment Appeals Tribunal system of adjudicating claims for unfair dismissals and wages payment disputes.

The current case before the High Court was taken by solicitors on behalf of Tomasz Zalewski, who claims he was unfairly dismissed last December by Buywise Discount Store Ltd., where he was employed as a Store Supervisor and Security Guard.

Mr. Zalewski feels he was not afforded fair procedure and constitutional justice when the adjudication officer upheld the dismissal. Mr Justice Noonan granted Mr Zalewski leave to judicially review the officer’s decision and restrained the WRC from progressing Mr Zalewski’s appeal to the Labour Court until there is further order from the court.

The court was informed that the hearing was extremely brief, lasting around 10 minutes, with the adjudication officer accepting written submissions from both sides, but Mr Zalewski was given no opportunity to cross-examine.

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Feb 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Sunday Working - what employers need to know

In today’s world, the reality is that many businesses are open on Sundays, requiring employees to work Sundays.

Employers of these businesses need to be aware of the additional responsibilities that apply to Sunday working.

Employment Contracts

Where an employee is required to work on a Sunday it should be specifically stated in their contract of employment, otherwise it may be fairly assumed that Sunday is a rest day, as per the Organisation of Working Time Act.


The Act also specifies that employees who work on a Sunday must be compensated with a reasonable allowance, increase in pay, time off, or a combination of these.

Where confusion can occur, and conflict arise, is where the Act does not specify what or how much is considered to be a reasonable allowance or increase in pay. The amount of premium paid will vary between industries and employment. However, for further guidance on what actually is considered as a reasonable premium, case law does provide useful assistance.

Some learnings from previous decisions include:

  • If a premium or increased pay is being paid it should be clearly set out, ideally in the contract of employment
  • A rate of pay that exceeds the National Minimum wage is not automatically sufficient.
  • Full-time and part-time staff may not be treated differently with regard to a Sunday premium.
  • Payment in kind is not a premium, for example providing a meal on a Sunday would not be a reasonable allowance
  • If an employee is employed to only work Sundays they will still be entitled to a Sunday premium.

A specific code of practice for Sunday working in the retail sector exists, employers within this sector should ensure they are familiar with the code.

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Feb 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

A High Court Judge has awarded a Dunnes Stores Deli worker €182,000 in damages after she fell on grease on the floor of her work station. The Judge said the accident was “eminently foreseeable” therefore making the employer negligible for not providing her with a safe place to work.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 & 2010 entail details of specific health and safety laws which apply generally to all employments.

Employer Duties

In order to prevent workplace injuries the employer is required, amongst other things, to:

  • Provide & maintain a safe workplace which uses safe plant and machinery
  • Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk • Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
  • Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees
  • Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer

Employee Duties

The duties of the employees include the following:

  • Take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and others in the workplace
  • Not engage in improper behaviour that could endanger themselves or others
  • Not be under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace
  • Undergo any reasonable medical or other assessment if requested by employer
  • Report any defects in the place of work or of equipment which may be a danger to the health and safety of those in the workplace

Every employer is required to carry out a Risk Assessment for the workplace under the Act. This should identify any hazards present in the workplace, assess the risks arising from such hazards and identify the steps needed to be taken to deal with the risk. The employer must also prepare a Safety Statement which is based on the Risk Assessment, employees should be given access to the Safety Statement and the employer should review it regularly.


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