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Blog  »  November 2021
26
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Look What's Coming: Statutory Sick Pay for 2022

With 2021 drawing to a close businesses must now look forward as to what is to come in 2022 and one change that is likely yo come in 2022 which will affect all employers is the introduction of  a compulsory sick pay scheme.

Unlike many European jurisdictions, Ireland has never had a scheme like this. Currently an Irish employer is not, at the moment, obliged to pay employees while they are sick which is about to change due to the Sick Leave Bill 2021 which was published recently and provides for a comprehensive Statutory Sick Pay scheme (SSP).

The key points for employers to note in relation to this scheme are as follows:

1. While the number of eligible days per year will start at a low level, the Government intends that this will increase to two working weeks by the year 2025.

2. SSP will be capped and an employer will only be obliged to pay up to 70% of wages, subject to a cap of €110/day. 

3. The Government will not “top up” the employer’s contribution to 100%.

4. Employees will have to have at least 13 weeks of continuous service in order to be eligible.

5. Employees will be obliged to provide a medical certificate in respect of each day of Statutory Sick Leave.

6. If an employer maintains it cannot afford to discharge its SSP obligations, an exemption can be granted by the Labour Court.

7. If an employer already provides more favourable sick leave benefits to an employee, they will not be obliged to comply with the SSP rules.

So what should employers do now? It would be prudent for employers , especially smaller employers, to start financial planning now in order to ensure that they are ready for when the SSP is introduced. Employers should also review any existing sick pay schemes/ policies to check whether the new rules will affect/ change these.

Related Articles:

The Budget 2022: What You Need to Know

- The importance of having an Absence/Sick Leave Policy

Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Update, Sick Leave/Absence Management

17
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 & 2005

The Adoptive Leave Act 1995 and 2005 covers all adopting mothers or sole male adopters who are in employment. The Act also covers employed adopting fathers in the event of the adopting mother’s death occurring following the adoption during the period of adoptive or additional adoptive leave. Under this act an employee is entitled to a minimum of 24 consecutive weeks’ adoptive leave and an optional 16 weeks’ additional adoptive leave.

An adoptive parent must give their employer at least 4 weeks written notice of the expected date of placement of the child, and confirm this as soon as possible. A certificate of placement (available from the Adoption Authority of Ireland or HSE) must be given to the employer no later than 4 weeks after the date of placement.

Adopting parents are entitled to time off during working hours without loss of pay to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers/ health board officials required during the pre-adoption process.

There is no set period of the retention of adoptive leave records, however claims can be made within 6 months of employers being informed of an issue giving rise to a dispute or extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances which employers must be aware of.

Bright Contracts' handbook includes each family related leave policy including adoptive leave under the 'Leave & Benefits' section of the handbook. If you'd like to download a trial of our software to preview these sections click here.

Related Articles:

Parent's Leave & Benefit Act 2019

Don't Forget About Fathers: Paternity Leave & Benefit Act 2016

Posted in Family Leave

10
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Don't Get Caught Out: The 5 Core Terms

Throughout the pandemic some businesses were lucky enough to be able to hire new employees which is why it is important for employers to know their legal obligations in the first few days of an employees employment. The Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 to 2014 clarifes at the outset what the terms of employment are, in order to avoid problems which may arise at a later date.

Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 to 2014:

  • The employer must give an employee a written statement contains the five core terms of employment within 5 days of commencing employment.
  • The employer  must give an employee a full written statement of their terms of employment within 2 months of starting employment.
  • The employer must notify the employee of any changes in the particulars of the statement within 1 month of the change taking effect.

Written Statement of Terms of Employment

The purpose of the written statement of terms of employment is to clarify the terms of a person's employment and to avoid uncertainty or misunderstandings, which can often lead to a dispute at a later date e.g. rates of pay for overtime hours not specified in advance.

It is important to note that a written statement of terms of employment is not necessarily the same as a contract of employment, although the two often overlap.An employer is obliged to issue a written statement of terms of employment to the employee which must be signed and dated by the employer however there is no requirement for an employee to sign a written statement of terms of employment.

The 5 core terms of employment which an employer must provide to an employee in writing within 5 days of commencement of employment are as follows:

1. Full names of the employer and the employee

2. Address of the registered office of the employer/ in the state/ the principal place of the relevant business

3. If it is a temporary contract, the expected duration of that temporary contract should be stated and if it is a fixed term contract, the date when that contract expires should be stated.

4. The rate or method of calculation of the employee's pay and the pay reference period for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Acts 2000 and 2015.

5. The number pf hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work per normal working dat and per normal working week.

To avoid issuing two versions of a written statement of terms of employment (one version with the 5 core terms and the second version with the remaining terms0 it would be prudent for an employer to issue one version containing all terms within 5 days, or indeed before the employment commences so the employee is fully aware of the terms prior to commencement.

Additional Terms to Include in the Written Statement

The whole purpose of the written statement is to make absolutely clear to an employee what the terms of their employment are. An employer could add additional terms to avoid any confusion or uncertainty that might arise at a later date. Issues which may arise might include:

    • Appearance/ Dress Code - Formal or Casual
    • Compassionate Leave - Whether paid leave is granted for the death of a family member
    • Confidentiality Clause 
    • Alcohol & Drugs Misuse Policy
    • Study Leave
    • Lay-Off & Short Time
    • Data Protection Policy
    • Business Travel Arrangements
    • Health & Safety

This is not an exhaustive list. Where additional clauses or policies are included, the employer should also specify what disciplinary action will be taken against an employee who breaches any of these clauses.

The written statement must be given tot he employee even if the employee's employment ends before the end of the period in which the statement is required to be given. Where the employee leaves within 5 days of commencement, they should still be issued with a written statement containing the 5 core terms. Where an employee leaves within 2 months of commencement, the employer must still give the ex-employee a written statement, provided the employee has been in the continuous service fo the employer for at least one month.

The Act also specifies that an employer is required to retain the written statement for the duration of the employee's employment and for at least 1 year after the employment has ceased. The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 states that an employer is required to retain a copy of the written statement for 2 years from the date on which the statement was issued for inspection by a social welfare inspector. The employer should ensure that a copy of the written statement is held for the longer of these durations. 

Bright Contracts' contracts within the software not only cover the 5 core terms but also the additional terms. You can view a demo of the software and its contracts here. You can download a trial of the software here.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, Employment Law

3
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Parent's Leave & Benefit Act 2019

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 came into effect on the 1st of November 2019. This Act provides for 5 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.

This leave can be taken within 24 months, up to a child's second birthday or within two years following adoption. Parents can take 5 weeks together or take separate weeks of leave. Whilst parent’s leave is available to both parents, it is not possible for parents to transfer leave to the other parent, except in the unfortunate circumstances where one of the parents dies. While on parent’s leave an employee will normally be entitled to statutory parent’s leave pay, depending on meeting certain PRSI eligibility criteria. 

Employees wishing to take parent's leave must notify the employer in writing, giving at least 6 weeks’ notice of their intention to take the leave. They should state the expected start date for the leave and how they intend to take the leave – either five weeks together or separate weeks of leave.

Employees may be required to provide a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy and expected date of birth, or a copy of the birth certificate for the child. In the case of adoptions, a certificate confirming eligibility for adoption will be required.

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

Something important to note is that the employer may postpone a request to take parent's leave by up to 12 weeks, in cases where it is felt that by granting the leave request there would be an adverse effect on the business. Before postponing any request, the employer will consult with the employee.

Once a decision has been made to postpone, the employer will provide the employee with written confirmation that the leave is being postponed giving 4 weeks’ notice before the intended commencement date. The confirmation will set out the grounds for the postponement. The employer will only be permitted to postpone the leave on one occasion.

During parent’s leave the employees employment rights are preserved, and annual leave will continue to accrue. The employer reserves the right to refuse time-off to employees where there is non-compliance with this procedure, and any such non-compliance may be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure.

Parent's Leave & Maternity Leave

However if any employee requires to take all or any of the 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave, that leave must be taken directly after the paid maternity ends. Again the employee does not have to take the full 16 weeks unpaid, they can move directly to Parents Benefit after paid Maternity ends, they can take any number of weeks of the unpaid maternity leave that they require and after availing of the weeks they require under that entitlement either return to work or move to Parents Benefit.

So how must an employee notify their employer of their intention to take maternity leave?

At least 4 weeks before the commencement of maternity leave stating the date on which the leave is due to commence.

Related Articles:

-  Don't Forget About Fathers: Paternity Leave & Benefit Act 2016

The Employer & Maternity Leave

Posted in Company Handbook, Family Leave