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Blog  »  July 2017
Jul 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

What does GDPR mean for employers?

Employers process huge amounts of HR related personal data on a daily basis. The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) expand current obligations in terms of how data that is processed.

Employee Communication

Currently employers must provide employees with some information, including the identity of the data controller and the purpose for which data is being processed. Under the new legislation this will increase to include, informing employees of how long the data is stored for, details of employee’s right to make data access requests, and the right rectify or to delete the personal data.


The issue of consent will be very important across the board but particularly from a HR perspective. Currently, most employment contracts will contain a standard consent clause regarding the processing of employee data. Under GDPR employers will unlikely be able to depend solely on these blanket clauses.

GDPR stipulates that consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. Employee consent is not generally considered to be valid as consent is usually not deemed to be “freely given”. This is due to the power imbalance between the employer and the employee.

Whilst it is still best practice for employers to include details of data processing within the contract of employment, it should not be the sole form of consent for processing employee’s personal data.

How do employers justify processing employee data?

From 25 May 2018 employers will need to have additional justifications for the processing of employee data. These may include:

  • To fulfil contractual obligations: this could allow employers process employee details in order to meet the terms of the contract of employment. For example, the processing of payroll data.
  • Legal obligations: for example, health and safety and tax legislation denote valid grounds for processing data.
  • Other legitimate interests: employers may have internal legitimate interests for processing data, such as to improve efficiencies. Where this justification is relied upon employers should ensure that the purpose is legitimate and it must be done in the least intrusive manner possible.

Data Access Requests

Should an employee request to access their data, under the GDPR employers will have one month to comply, reduced from 40 days. It will no longer be permissible to charge employees for requesting to access their personal data.

To Conclude

Employers are well advised to take time to fully consider the legal grounds they rely on in order to process employee personal data. Ensure that where processing does occur it is necessary, proportionate and carried out in the least intrusive manner possible. Employers should also communicate with staff ensuring that staff notices and privacy policies are up-to-date with the GDPR requirements.

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Jul 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Minimum Wage to increase by 30c

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has welcomed proposals from the Low Pay Commission to increase the national minimum wage to €9.55 from 1st January 2018. “It’s an increase well ahead of inflation, well ahead of average wage growth in the economy. It is modest, it works out at about an extra €12 per week but it is still an important step in the right direction” he said.

It would be the fourth increase in the minimum wage since 2011, the third in the last two years and the second under this Government. But it should be seen as a further step towards the Programme for Government commitment for a minimum wage of €10.50, the Taoiseach added.

Although the move has been welcomed in political circles, Retail Ireland warned it could impact on jobs in the sector. Thomas Burke, the director of retail Ireland said; “With little to no inflation in consumer goods and growing concern over the impact Brexit is already having on the retail sector, there is absolutely no economic basis for a further increase to the minimum wage. Such a rise at this juncture would significantly affect retailers’ ability to remain competitive against a backdrop of falling prices and rising costs within the industry.”

The Irish Business ad Employers Confederation (IBEC) argued that the minimum wage here is already one of the highest in Europe and with this increase would be 12% higher than that in the UK. It called on Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, who will oversee the changes, to delay the implementation.

“Workers need a pay rise to keep pace with the increasing cost of living in Ireland …but these employers must be supported to absorb the cost of pay increases in a way that doesn’t harm their competitiveness.” Said Niall Collins, the Fianna Fail enterprise spokesman.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office last April showed that 10.1% of employees earned the National Minimum Wage or less in that year. Tánaiste Fitzgerald said the increase “offers support to people and creates better opportunities to benefit from a better wage.”

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Jul 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Workplace Relations Commission Annual Report Findings

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has released their second annual report revealing interesting and surprising statistics. In 2016, a total of 4,830 inspections were carried out, of which 60% were unannounced. 2,398 breaches of employment legislation were recorded with an average of 1.2 breaches per employer. By far the most common breach was the failure to keep adequate employment records (62%) followed by employment permits irregularities (17%).

Other highlights from the report are:

• 14,400 complaints were made
• €1.5m was recovered in unpaid wages
• Almost 75,000 employees were covered by inspections
• 85% of workplace disputes were resolved

The most common complaints that were heard include:

• 28% Pay related issues
• 15% Unfair dismissal issues
• 12% Working time issues
• 11% Discrimination/equality related
• 9% Trade disputes/IR issues
• 9% Terms and conditions of employment-related

The sectors showing a higher degree of non-compliance were:

• 60% Electrical
• 53% Hair and Beauty
• 49% Construction
• 47% Agriculture
• 45% Wholesale and Retail

Keeping appropriate employment records is not just a legal requirement placed on the employer but is also protection for both the employer and employees. Having proper records in place ensures that information and documents regarding wages, hours worked etc., are readily available in the case of grievances and disputes or a WRC inspection. Not having records in place leaves the employer is at a distinct disadvantage in the event of a dispute and at risk of failing an inspection. Primary to this employers are advised to have robust contracts of employment and policies and procedures in place and to ensure that they are fully compliant and kept up to date.

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Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook, Wages

Jul 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Top tips for reference check questions

The reference check stage of the recruitment process is a crucial stage for an employer to obtain vital information about a candidate and corroborating that what they have said on their CV and in their interview is factual and true. By speaking to references, you can gather more information about the candidate’s work ethics and personality traits that might not be apparent during the interview.

Factual Questions

Factual questions are important to ask to confirm information the candidate has given you regarding their previous role is accurate. For example:

• Can you please confirm the candidate’s dates of employment?
• Can you please confirm the candidate’s job title?
• What was your working relationship with the candidate?

Behavioral Questions

By asking behavioral questions you can gain a better insight into the candidate’s personality and work ethic. For example:

• Can you please describe the candidate’s attendance and timekeeping?
• Can you please describe the candidate’s job performance?
• Can you please describe the candidate’s relationship with their colleagues and also with management?

Hypothetical Question

There is one hypothetical question that is important to ask at the end of each reference check:

• Would you re-hire the candidate in the future?

This question can tell you a lot as there is a big difference between “No I would not”, “Um…maybe” and “Yes, I wish they were not leaving”.

Hiring the wrong candidate can be extremely costly for any organisation so ensure to always complete reference checks with at least two referees and ideally with a manager or superior.

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Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Staff Handbook

Jul 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

GDPR – What is it and what does it mean for you?

The General Data Protection Regulation will come into force on the 25th of May 2018, after 4 years of intense preparation and debate it was finally approved to replace the existing Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.

The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world that is vastly different from the time in which the 1995 directive was established.

The key points of the GDPR are:

  • Increased Territorial Scope
    Arguably the biggest change to the regulatory landscape of data privacy comes with the extended jurisdiction of the GDPR, as it applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location. 
  • Penalties
    Under GDPR organizations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). This is the maximum fine that can be imposed for the most serious infringements.
  • Consent
    Requests for consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it. 
  • Breach Notification
    Where a breach occurs that is likely to “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals” that Data Controller must notify affected parties within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach.
  • Right to Access
    Part of the expanded rights of data subjects outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose.
  • Right to be Forgotten
    Also known as Data Erasure, the right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data. Conditions for data erasure do exist, including the data no longer being relevant. 
  • Data Portability
    GDPR introduces data portability - the right for a data subject to receive the personal data concerning them, which they have previously provided in a 'commonly use and machine-readable format' and have the right to transmit that data to another controller. 
  • Privacy by Design
    Privacy by design calls for the inclusion of data protection from the onset of the designing of systems, rather than an addition. Under GDPR data controllers are called on to hold and process only the data absolutely necessary for the completion of its duties, as well as limiting the access to personal data. 
  • Data Protection Officers 
    DPO appointment will be mandatory only for those controllers and processors whose core activities consist of processing operations which require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offenses. Specific criteria in relation to the appointment of a DPO exist.

The GDPR places onerous obligations on organisations in relation to the processing of personal data. In order to be ready for the May deadline, it is strongly advisable to start preparing now. 

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