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Blog  »  October 2019
Oct 19

Posted by
Nicola Sheridan

Parent’s Leave & Benefit Bill…. Some paid leave is now on the way for all new parents!

The Government is working on a range of changes to help parents spend more quality time with their children. Last week, they published the new Parent's Leave and Benefit Bill 2019. This Bill is expected to be enacted on or before 1st November 2019.

So what is this….?
The new Parent’s Leave & Benefit Bill introduces the concept of paid parent's leave for employees for the first time in Ireland. Originally called the ‘Parental Leave & Benefit Bill’, this has had a name change to the Parent’s Leave & Benefit bill to clearly differentiate parent's leave from parental leave (which is a separate entitlement!).

What’s included in the new Bill?

  • Parents will be able to take two weeks paid parents leave for any child born / adopted on or after 1st November 2019. The leave must be used before the child’s first birthday. In the case of multiple births, a parent will only be able to claim parents leave once.
  • It is available to both parents and it can be taken as a continuous period of two weeks or in two separate one week blocks.
  • An employee needs to give their employer six weeks' notice of when they want to take the leave, stating the expected start date and the duration.
  • Employers are allowed postpone the parent's leave in situations where taking the leave would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the employer's business. Employers however cannot postpone the leave for more than 12 weeks.
  • Parents receive a statutory payment of €245 per week (they need the necessary PRSI contributions to qualify!).

The Bill does not require employers to pay employees while on parent's leave. It will be up to each employer to decide if they want to top-up an employee's parent's benefit and, if so, by how much. The advice would be to be consistent with approaches taken on the other family leave types.

Company policies should be reviewed and updated to reflect the changes being introduced. This will help you prepare for any increase in staff requests. Make sure you keep your paperwork & record keeping in order.

So…. keep a listen for future announcements on this new leave and we will update our Bright Contracts package with this policy once it has all been finalised.


Posted in Bright Contracts News, Employee Handbook, Parental Leave

Oct 19

Posted by
Nicola Sheridan

To retire or not to retire......that is the question!

The question about whether employers should enforce mandatory retirement ages continues to raise debate. Age discrimination and unfair dismissal are very serious charges an employer can face in terms of how they enforce compulsory retirement ages*. So how can you, as an employer, protect against such a scenario? Simply by getting two key points correct;

  • be able to demonstrate that a compulsory retirement age applies in your company
  • understand the purpose or ‘legitimate aim’ of the retirement age you want to apply.

Before you can enforce a retirement age, you must be clear on what that age is and be confident of the existence of and justification for this - before seeking to rely on it if challenged! This retirement age must be properly referenced in the employment contract and the retirement age policy be communicated clearly to all staff. While different grades or categories of worker can have different compulsory retirement ages, the differences must be clearly explained and any confusion arising from this should be addressed.

Employers should consider the company’s overall business needs and determine the retirement age based on those needs. Reasons which may be considered to “objectively justify” the mandatory retirement of employees includes health and safety of staff, career progression, succession planning and more labour market opportunities.

So, if employers cannot show that their compulsory retirement age policy is appropriate and necessary based on a legitimate objective, this is likely to be considered discriminatory on age grounds. If an employee takes a case against their employer to the WRC over being compulsorily retired, reinstatement to the role can be ordered (which in itself leads to complications for employers!) or where reinstatement is not ordered, significant awards of compensation can be awarded.

An employer's ability to rely on a legitimate aim may be undermined by their actions. Best practice now requires that employers adopt clear policies about retirement - with particular emphasis being placed on the WRC’s Code of Practice on Longer Working. Employers need to start planning for future requirements and if employees are to remain on in employment after their normal retirement age, you should start considering the employment and pension implications of this now….

*Some recent cases on Compulsory Retirement ages that are interesting reads are Longford County Council v Michael Neilon, Quigley v HSE and John O'Brien v PPI Adhesive Plastics