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Blog  »  March 2021
30
Mar 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes as bullying?

Workplace bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.

Examples of bullying behaviour includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Exclusion with negative consequences
  • Verbal abuse/insults
  • Being treated less favourably than colleagues in similar roles
  • Belittling a person’s opinion
  • Disseminating malicious rumours, gossip or innuendo
  • Socially excluding or isolating a person within the work sphere
  • Intrusion - pestering, spying or stalking
  • Intimidation/aggressive interactions
  • Excessive monitoring of work
  • Withholding information necessary for proper performance of a person's job
  • Repeatedly manipulating a person's job content and targets
  • Blaming a person for things beyond their control
  • Use of aggressive and obscene language

What is not considered workplace bullying?

An isolated incident of the behaviour described in the above definition may offend dignity at work, but, as a once off incident, is not considered to be bullying. Workplace bullying should meet the criteria of an on-going series of accumulation of seriously, negative, targeted behaviours against a person or persons to damage their esteem and standing in a harmful, continuous way.

Under the Code, the following examples set out behaviours that do not constitute as bullying:

  • Expressing differences of opinion strongly
  • Offering unwelcome constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related behaviour
  • Ordinary performance management
  • Acceptable corrective action taken by an employer/ supervisor which relates to the management and direction of an employee (for example, an employer managing a worker’s performance, taking reasonable disciplinary action against the employee, or assigning the employee work)
  • Complaints relating to instructions issued by a manager, assignment of duties, terms and conditions of employment or other matters, which are appropriate for referral under other normal grievance procedures, do not constitute bullying.

How does bullying manifest in the workplace?

Workplace bullying ought to meet the criteria of a reoccurring cycle and accumulation of negative directed behaviours against a person or persons to damage their esteem and standing in a harmful, sustained way. A pattern and trend are involved so that a reasonable person would regard such behaviour as clearly wrong, undermining and humiliating. Bullying activities involve actions and behavioural patterns, directly or indirectly, spoken and/or written and could include the use of cyber or digital means for the goal of bullying.

The Bright Contracts Handbook has now been updated to reflect the bullying code of practice for employers and employees on the prevention and resolution of bullying in the workplace. To access the update, log out of your Bright Contracts company file and log back in, you will then see a yellow bar across the top of the page asking you if you would like to upgrade the content.

 If you are not a Bright Contracts customer but are looking to adopt or change your HR Software please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.


Posted in Bright Contracts News, Bullying and Harassment, Company handbook

18
Mar 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Parent's Leave & Benefit Act 2019: Extension of Leave

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 came into effect on the 1st of November 2019 and provides for 2 weeks Parent’s Leave with protection of employment for a relevant parent in respect of a child born or adopted on or after the 1st of November 2019. The purpose of the Act is to enable the relevant parent to provide, or assist in the provision of, care to the child.


In acknowledgement of the difficulties experienced by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet has announced that parents of children born or adopted from the 1st of November 2019 can avail of an additional three weeks of Parent's leave from April 2021 and will be paid at the rate of €245 a week. The benefit is now for five week’s paid leave for each parent up to their child's 2nd birthday which can be taken as either five consecutive weeks or in smaller separate block of a minimum of 1 week duration each.

 

Currently the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 sets out the entitlements and criteria applicable to Parent’s Leave available to the relevant parent. Eligibility for Parent’s Leave depends on the employee meeting specific criteria including the following,

  • The employee’s status as a relevant parent,
  • The employee taking the leave within 52 weeks of the birth of the child or in the case of adoption, from the placement date, and,
  • The employee providing certain notice requirements.

Entitlement to leave is for a relevant parent which is:

  • A parent of the child
  • A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • The adopting parent or parents of a child
  • The spouse or civil partner of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted the child together).

Parent’s Benefit can be applied for at any time to be taken within the first 2 years the child’s life and does not need to be taken directly after maternity leave, paid or unpaid. This leave can be taken within 24 months, up to a child's second birthday or within two years following adoption. This measure will be available from April 2021 as it requires primary legislation to commence the extension of the parent’s leave and the development of the IT system to process the benefit.

Paid parent leave can be taken in addition to existing Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave, Paternity Leave and Parental Leave rights, as applicable to each "relevant" parent.

To exercise the right to Parent’s Leave, the employee must give their employer at least 6 week’s written notice of their intention to take the leave. To apply for Parent's Leave visit here.

View entitlements under Maternity Benefit and Paternity Benefit.

If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Customer Update, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Parental Leave, Staff Handbook

12
Mar 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Out of Hours Communication: The Right to Disconnect

In line with government health guidance and roadmap for the re-opening of business activities, Employers and Employees alike moved quickly to flexible working arrangements for over the past year. While some Companies have remained in a remote working space, others are introducing a hybrid form of remote and office working.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has increased by almost 30% which is expected to remain high or even rise. Research by Eurofound, an agency of the European Union, indicates that people who work from home on a regular basis are more than twice as likely to exceed the maximum of 48 working hours per week, compared to those working in the office. Almost 30% of those working from home reported they work in their free time every day or a number of times a week, compared to less than 5% of office workers.

With the prospect of remote working becoming more normalised, Employers must ensure safety, health and well-being are a priority as a company’s legal duty of care still applies when Employees are working from home. Employers need to be mindful of the employee’s right to disconnect as remote working has the potential to distort the boundaries between work and home spatially.

In August 2019, the Government announced their intention to introduce legislation which would ensure Employees have the right to disconnect and no longer feel the obligation to check work-related emails outside office hours. A Code of Practice on the ‘Right to Disconnect’ has been proposed before the Dáil which if passed will amend some statutory provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 and application of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

Organisation of Working Time (Amendment) (Right to Disconnect) Bill 2020

Section 15 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 is amended through the provision of:

  • the right to disconnect from work related e-mails, texts or calls outside of working hours.
  • implementation of a right to disconnect policy establishing hours to disconnect
  • the production of a report on the right to disconnect detailing ways to:

                  - minimise out of hours contact.
                  - establish a standby allowance.
                  - deliver an overtime payment.
                 - ensure all working time does not exceed 48 hours.

This amendment to the Act will make it an offence for an employee to be reprimanded, punished, or subjected to disciplinary action if they ignore a work-related communication sent outside of normal working hours, unless already agreed under the terms and conditions of a relevant right to disconnect policy.

The responsibility for Health and Safety at work rests with the employer regardless of whether an employee works remotely therefore it is good practice to ensure employees know how to protect themselves from potential injury and ill health during this time and that they understand their health and safety obligations whilst working remotely.

On April 1st 2021, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment Leo Varadkar signed the new code of practice on the right to disconnect meaning the code comes into effect immediately and will be admissible in evidence in proceedings before a court.

 The Code states that the Right to Disconnect Policy should be referenced in an employee’s contract of employment in the same way as any other company policy would. The Code also states that, where appropriate, a company’s Policy should recognise that certain businesses and roles do not always operate on a standard hours basis but in a manner responsive to customer needs where flexibility is required to meet business needs, and as agreed in the employee’s terms of employment. Employers with operations in multiple time zones may consider putting agile working arrangements on a more formalised footing with a view to ensuring balance between the need for clarity in relation to employees’ ‘normal working hours’, and the employer’s operational needs.

It will be important for employers to ensure that the policy is ‘equality proofed’ in order to avoid unintended negative consequences and to ensure that it does not result in employees being directly or indirectly discriminated against on any of the protected grounds under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2015.

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Posted in Bright Contracts News, Employment Law