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23
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Let's Get Topical - The Vaccine Policy

The Vaccine. . . a major topical area and again one that information about is changing by the day. Instead of overloading you with paragraph upon paragraph of text, we thought we’d approach this section as a Q&A which covers all questions you may have about the vaccine policy. 

The first question is - Can you insist that an employee be tested? 

In the absence of a legal requirement for employees to take a test, no individual can lawfully be forced to take one, as such an action could be considered assault given the physical element of taking a test.

Employees who have no symptoms should only be asked to take a test on a voluntary basis. Employees who have no symptoms and are not a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case may query the legal basis of being required to take a covid test before entering the workplace. In this scenario, the purpose of the test should be explained to the employee and if the employee continues to refuse the test, employers need to tread very carefully to avoid employee relations issues. 

Moving onto question 2 - Can you ask an employee if they have been vaccinated? 

While employees are not obliged to provide personal medical information, employers may seek vaccination information on the foundation that they are meeting their legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts. It will be up to the employee if they wish to volunteer this information to their employer. If they choose to volunteer this information, then employers should not disclose this information to other employees. As medical data is considered as a Special Category of Personal data, additional data protection regulation apply and must considered. 

Lastly, question 3 - Can you insist that an employee be vaccinated? 

Currently vaccinations are recommended by Irish authorities, but not compulsory for any Irish citizen. Even with the role out of the Covid vaccination amongst medical workers who are employees of the HSE, for these employees the vaccine was not mandatory. With this in mind, it is likely to be very difficult for an employer to argue and defend a case that vaccination is compulsory in a workplace. There is little an employer can do if their employee refuses to get the vaccine however, understanding their concerns is important and finding solutions that meet the business needs without infringing on their rights is crucial in managing their integration into the workplace. Employers need to think carefully about any action they take and consider the potential legal consequences associated with these actions.

If you are an employer, now you are most likely thinking, 'What can I do about the vaccine and my workplace?'. The answer is simple, employees cannot be forced to avail of the vaccine however it is vitally important that employers promote that their employees take a vaccine. The best way to take a proactive stance here is to roll out a vaccine policy. We would advise doing this now to help prepare employees. In creating a vaccine policy you’ll want to consider : 

1. Providing your workforce with a list of resources where they can obtain further information about the vaccination programme, for example, gov.ie, HSE.ie. 

2. Your policy must recognise that the decision to avail of the vaccine is the individual's choice however the employer encourages their workforce to make an informed decision through: 

Reading information about COVID-19 vaccinations via official sources; 

Listening to the information the HSE provides when offering a vaccine; and 

Being cautious of misinformation around COVID-19 vaccinations by unreliable sources. 

3. Detail whether your employee's will be paid or un-paid for the leave to attend their appointment.

4. If an employee feels unwell after their vaccination they will be instructed to follow The Company's sick leave policy. 

Lastly, we would recommend :

5. That employers include a section in the vaccine policy about employee's respecting others privacy and not having open discussions about the vaccine with colleagues.

Bright Contracts has recently been updated to include a vaccine policy which covers these consideration points for our customers to include in their employee handbooks, which can be found under the terms and conditions tab. 

Related Articles:

- Hello Update! - Additions to the Return to Work Safely Protocol

- Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Health & Safety

16
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Hello Update! - Additions to the Return to Work Safely Protocol

As vaccines roll out and employees begin to return to the office, updates to policies and procedures are changing as a result, so we are back again with a update to The Return to Work Safely Protocol which came into effect in May 2021 to include new learnings on Covid in the workplace. It incorporates the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community and workplaces. The updated Work Safely Protocol provides further guidance for employers in relation to ventilation as part of the range of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as information on how to approach the use of antigen testing in the workplace. 

The updated Protocol is very detailed in relation to the introduction of antigen diagnostic tests and rapid antigen diagnostic tests. 

Firstly let's discuss what is antigen testing?

The COVID-19 antigen test uses a swab to take a sample from your nose. The sample does not need to go to a lab. The test results are quicker than the COVID-19 PCR test, but it has some limitations.

With the update to the protocol employers must:

  • Consult with workers and representatives, as well as the lead worker representative(s) and the safety representatives, before any testing regime is introduced in the workplace and a process for workers who do not wish to take part in such testing should be agreed. 
  • The updated Protocol also sets out that a written occupational health and safety risk assessment to take account of this new work activity and specific risks associated with the use of rapid antigen diagnostic testing in the workplace should be completed.

The spread of the virus is most likely when infected people are in close contact so the risk of getting COVID-19 is higher in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity therefore it is important to maximise ventilation in areas where people are in close contact. 

Ventilation, refers to the movement of outdoor air into a building, and the circulation of that air within the building or room while removing stale air to improve the air quality. This can be achieved through natural means (e.g. opening a window) or by mechanical means e.g. HVAC systems. 

Reoccupying workplaces should not, in most cases, require new ventilation systems but improvements to ventilation will help increase the quantity of clean air and reduce the risk of exposure to airborne concentrations of the virus. While ventilation reduces the amount of virus in the air and the aerosol risk, it will have minimal impact on contact transmission (touching surfaces) or droplet transmission where people are within 2 metres of each other. Droplets containing the virus will settle onto the surrounding surfaces within seconds, smaller particles can stay suspended for longer which is why ventilation is not a standalone measure and continued adherence to other public health advice is absolutely essential.

Employers can also seek to reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the numbers of workers in a given area and paying particular attention to work activities that increase deeper breathing. Determining ventilation of enclosed workplace settings should be considered as part of the workplace risk assessment which should consider the following:

- How you currently provide ventilation (fresh air) in your workplace?

- How many workers occupy or use the area(s)?

- How much time do workers spend in the area(s)?

- Are there any features in the workplace which might affect ventilation?

- Does the workplace have multiple or complex ventilation systems in place?

It is advised to speak to the building engineer or system manufacturer before implementing any changes relating to mechanical ventilation.

Further information on ventilation is available at: 

- HPSC – Guidance on non-healthcare settings

- World Health Organisation?

Related Articles:

The Home Stretch: The Final Key Steps in a Safe Employee Return

- As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace

- Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely?

Posted in Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Health & Safety

11
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

2021 has been a year of big change for everyone and has given rise to many different topics of conversation, a vitally important topic is that of menopause among the female workforces. A media outlet which we believe captures the importance of the conversation around menopause perfectly is The Irish Times who published an article in May 2021 about menopause and the article made reference to how ‘The menopause is where mental health was 10 years ago’. A statement which could not be more true. The origin of this article stemmed from women’s testimonies on Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme and has continued across all media since including being taken up in the Seanad by Senator Pauline O’Reilly. These discussions have brought to the surface the realisation that menopause is considered a taboo subject, like mental health was and like mental health we are not educated enough in what menopause is, the symptoms of it and how we can help those going through menopause which is why it is so important for employers to educate their workforce and to recognise the importance of supporting women in the workplace who are transitioning through menopause which is why we believe it is vitally important for organisations to implement a menopause policy as we believe it needs to be acknowledged and recognised as an important occupational issue requiring supports to be made available.

To ensure that companies show a positive attitude towards the menopause, we want to encourage employers to create an atmosphere where women feel there are colleagues with whom they can comfortably discuss menopausal symptoms and that they can ask for support and adjustments in order to work safely and without fear of negative repercussions. For this reason, the menopause is an issue for men as well as women. So let’s touch on the basics of menopause by answering the simple question, ‘What is menopause?’ Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s estrogen levels decline and she stops having periods. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.

There are various symptoms that can be experienced through menopause and can be both physical and/or psychological. They can include: hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, memory lapses, anxiety, depression and heart palpitations and each of these symptoms can affect an employee’s comfort and performance at work which is why we developed our menopause policy to ensure you are assisting your female employees in their daily duties. In order to assist those experiencing these symptoms in their daily duties, it is important that your company menopause policy explores making reasonable accommodations to the individuals role or working environment with the aim of reducing the effect that the menopause is having on the individual which is explored in our new menopause policy available on Bright Contracts today! We are committed to ensuring appropriate support and assistance is provided to female employees and that exclusionary or discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. Our menopause policy is fully compliant with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 as well as the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015.

Check out your Bright Contracts today to view the update, or if you would like to become a Bright Contracts user you can download the software and purchase a licence today. 
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.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook

10
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Home Stretch: The Final Key Steps in a Safe Employee Return

Following on from our previous blog post 'As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace', this blog post covers the next essential steps in your Return to Work Safely Protocol. 

4. Complete Pre-Return to Work Forms

5.Provide COVID-19 induction training for all staff 

6.Keeping a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing 

7.Review other Company Policies 

4. Complete Pre-Return to Work Forms

With this step, a pre-return to work form must be completed by employees at least 3 days before their return to work. The form allows employees to self-certify that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms or have not been in close contact with any confirmed or suspected cases over the last 14 days. 

You can get a return to work form template directly from the HSA website. 

In communicating with employees upon their return to work it would also be advisable to establish whether or not they might be considered as a vulnerable worker. There is a HSE webpage that sets out who high risk groups are, you might consider sending this to employees and asking them to notify you if they fall into any of the categories. If they do fall into a vulnerable category you do have a duty of care to take extra precautions to protect that individual. 

5.Provide COVID-19 induction training for all staff 

Once staff return to work they should be given Covid-19 induction training. This will include up-to-date public health guidance. Similar to the Lead Representative training, the HSA have an online Covid induction training. Employees can complete the training on their phone, it takes 20 minutes and once completed employees will receive a certificate which you can place on file as a record that the training has been completed. In addition to the HSA training, it would just be recommended that you recap with employees on the specific changes that have been made in your workplace.

6.Keeping a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing 

Next is keeping a log of close contact/group work. The purpose of this being to facilitate contact tracing should it be required.

7.Review other Company Policies 

And finally, when you’ve done all of the above you may want to look at reviewing and updating some of your existing policies. Previously you may have updated your Sick Leave Policy to reflect Covid-19 illnesses, you now might also want to consider putting in place a Working from Home policy if that is the norm in your company. And we have those updated policies available in Bright Contracts. 

As previously mentioned, The HSA are applying renewed energy into workplace compliance so it is important the employers recheck and re-evaluate where they are. Have things become complacent? Are your policies up-to-date? Do you need to remind staff? 

Hopefully if you put many of the steps in place last summer, it shouldn’t take you too long to review. But if you are looking for assistance Bright Contracts can certainly help. 

For those of you who are using our Bright Contracts package, Bright Contracts has been updated with a template Covid-19 response plan which can be found in the 'Optional Sections' tab of the software. It covers everything referenced just now and more.
The policy has been written closely following HSA guidelines and checklists. We would certainly advise that you review the policy and adapt it to include what is relevant in your organisation, but it is a fantastic blue print to ensure you are addressing all the points you need to.
 Related Articles:

 - As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace

Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely?

Posted in Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employment Law, Employment Update

2
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace

Following on from our previous blog post Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely? this blog post will detail the first 3 key elements of The Return to Work Safely Protocol:

1. Lead Worker Representative

2. Review Risk Assessment & Health & Safety Policies

3. Develop a COVID-19 Response Plan

1. Lead Worker Representative

Each workplace must appoint at least one lead worker representative, who along with management will have responsibility for ensuring that COVID-19 preventative measures are adhered to. 

The Protocol very much promotes collaboration between the employer and employees, and having a Lead Worker Representative is very much key to having everybody working off the same page. 

The HSA are currently running an online course to qualify your chosen employee as a Lead Worker Representative which we encourage you to have your chosen employee complete.

2. Review Risk Assessment & Health & Safety Policies

The next step is to review risk assessments and health & safety policies. In order to pinpoint how and where could the virus be transmitted in your workplace you must look at the hazards, evaluate the risks and put control measures in place. 

If there is a change to how work is carried out, you will need to review your Health & Safety policies. 

3. Develop a COVID-19 Response Plan

The next mandatory point is that all workplaces must develop a Covid-19 Response Plan. This is best thought of as a comprehensive catch-all document that deals with all points of relevance relating to COVID-19 and your workplace. 

The Protocol specifically sets out the information you must include in your Response Plan, this will include:

    • Stating how you will deal with a Suspected Case of Covid-19 in your workplace. You should appoint one employee with responsibility for dealing with suspected cases. You must have a designated isolation area to accommodate someone who may have contracted the virus. The idea being that you have a sterile environment where the employee can go if they are unable to go home straight away.
    • Secondly you will need to reference Cleaning & Hygiene. State how frequently your common areas and frequently touched surfaces are being cleaning. Have you provided sufficient hand washing / sanitisation facilities – all that type of thing. 
    • Reference the measures you have taken to ensure physical distancing.
    • You need to commit to keeping staff informed and up-to-date on what is happening in your workplace and also on public health advice. 
    • Employees have a responsibility here to; they must ensure that they are keeping up-to-date and abiding by the preventative measures being put in place. So it is important to include this in the Response Plan. 
    • And finally mental health. . . mental health is specifically referenced in the Protocol – you will need to reference and discuss how you are supporting employees whether it is through your EAP program or the HAS has provided helpful sources on their website which you should inform your employees are available to them.
For those of you who are using our Bright Contracts package, Bright Contracts has been updated with a template Covid-19 response plan which can be found in the 'Optional Sections' tab of the software. It covers everything referenced just now and more.
The policy has been written closely following HSA guidelines and checklists. We would certainly advise that you review the policy and adapt it to include what is relevant in your organisation, but it is a fantastic blue print to ensure you are addressing all the points you need to. 

Stay tuned for next weeks blog post to read the remainder of the key elements of 'The Return to Work Safely Protocol'.

Related Articles:

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Coronavirus, Customer Update

21
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely?

Over a year ago now, thousands of employees left their offices and relocated to home offices. As the year went on we began to see different trends in working patterns emerging. I suppose, one of the more worrying of those trends is the fact that whilst working from has had its benefits in terms of flexibility, it has also blurred the lines between work and home life, according to a LinkedIn survey, employees working from home are on average putting in an extra 38 hours work per month. So effectively an extra week per month. The same survey also revealed that home working left employees feeling stressed out. With mental health being one of the key topics of the last year, this is something that needs to be taken seriously.
So how do employers ensure they return their employees to work safely and also ensure their mental health isn’t effected? . . . Well let us be your guiding light and help you navigate through this.
As our customers look to bring their staff back to work, we have received questions on the Return to Work Safely Protocol and also questions on the practicalities of bringing staff back. Some staff will have not worked yet in 2021, they are at home perhaps in a very small bubble – so it is probably a fair assumption to say that there will be some anxieties from staff in relation to returning to the workplace. So it is important for employers to take some time to consider how best to manage the process of returning to work.
To give you an example:
A staff member is refusing to come back to work. What do I do? So the first thing to ask here is what are the individual’s reasons for not wanting to return to work.
Do they have health & safety concerns?
People have been safe at home for a long time now and there is an understandable anxiety amongst some people about going back into the workplace. If this is the reason, then you need to show to the employee how you have met the requirements of the Protocol and how you are taking preventative measures in the workplace. As an employer you have a duty to ensure employee’s safety, health and welfare so it is important that you are taking the right measures and then able to put your employee’s minds at ease. The Return to Work Protocol promotes communication and collaboration between employers and employees. Employees need to be able to show employees the preventative measures they have taken. Perhaps details of risk assessments completed. If there is a particular employee with specific health concerns, you will need to take into account their specific risk factors which you may consult with the employee on.
Lastly, are they afraid to travel on public transport?
Be open to suggestions here as much as possible such as staggering work times in order for them to avoid peak transport times which will mean packed public transport so as previously mentioned be open to suggestions as much as possible.

The Return to Work Safely Protocol was originally published last May, it was then revised and a new version reissued in November 2020 and again in May 2021 to include new learnings on Covid in the workplace. The Protocol sets out a number of measures in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Health Service Authority (HSA) also has responsibility for compliance. Overall it has been reported that through their covid-19 work safely inspections there has been a high level of compliance but there has been concerns raised by Public Health around some workplace social contacts where employees are more likely to drop their guard. Specifically, these are around the following issues:
• wearing a face mask
• maintaining physical distancing
• hand hygiene
• cleaning common touch areas
• having visible public health messaging around the workplace
• gathering at lunch breaks
The HSA has advised that employers review the Work Safely Protocol, to ensure that they are fully adhering to its recommendations. They would also encourage employers to re-engage with staff to ensure they are reminded not to attend work if they have COVID-19 symptoms. So what is in the Protocol? There are 7 Key considerations, which are:

  1. Lead Worker Representative
  2. Review Risk Assessment & Health & Safety Policies
  3. Develop a COVID-19 Response Plan
  4. Complete Pre-Return to Work Forms
  5. Provide COVID-19 induction training for all staff
  6. Keeping a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing
  7. Review other Company Policies

These will be covered each week beginning from Monday the 24th of April in blog posts so keep an eye out!

Related Articles:

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Coronavirus, Health & Safety

12
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Time Saving With Bright Contracts

Contracts. . . they are the pain point of every HR professional when recruiting new employees, processing promotions, extending contracts etc. To non HR professionals it may seem like typing up contracts is quick and easy work but this could not be further from the truth. The following are just some of the pain points I’ve had when typing up contracts, read and tick off any that may apply to you too when creating contracts of employment:

  • Formatting Issues
  • Grammatical Errors
  • Mis-matched Fonts
  • Saving Error: Corrupted file error meaning I have lost my entire document
  • Time consuming reading complete contract to check for errors
  • Printing Errors: Prints off centre or like a jigsaw puzzle making it frustrating to read

Well, how many points did you tick off that were applicable to you? If you found yourself even ticking off two of the above then you need Bright Contracts in your life as this software eliminates every single one of them pain points and produces a consistent, formatted, clean and compliant contract and handbook for each of your employees.

Read the below quick fire Q&A to gain an insight into what bright Contracts is, how it works and how it can help you with your contract and handbook creation:


What is Bright Contracts?
Bright Contracts is a software package that has everything you need to create and manage a professional staff handbook and contracts of employment. What was once traditionally an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process is now quick, easy and affordable with Bright Contracts.

Why should I use it?
Without employee contracts in place, an employer is risking large settlements in the case of staff disputes, and fines in the case of regulatory inspections. Having contracts also clearly defines the contractual relationship between you and your employees. Bright Contracts is the easiest way to get sorted.

What legislation is the software based on?
Bright Contracts has been written taking into account employment legislation across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The main piece of legislation governing the content of Bright Contracts is The Employments Rights Act 1996 and The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. The legislation specifies that employees must receive written terms and conditions of employment and what these terms and conditions are. In addition Bright Contracts has taken cognizance of current best practices as well as all relevant legislation in the creation of the content of the contract and handbook. Legislation also requires that employers are provided with details of procedures relating to dismissal, disciplinary and grievances, all of which are covered in our documentation.

How do we know this system complies with requirements and what if the law changes?
The system content has been compiled and tested by HR/Employment law experts. The system will be updated with any changes in legislation, changes brought about by case law or changes in best practice. These updates will be flagged to all current users and will be free to download.

How many people can access Bright Contracts?
When a licence is purchased it comes with two activations which means it can be activated on two separate computers. Once these activations have been used they cannot be deactivated and reactivated on another device.

Do I print off the handbooks and contracts?
The simple answer is yes however if you are trying to reduce your paper foot print then you can also have the handbook and contracts of employment as a pdf document which can then be e-mailed or, if you use our Bright Pay Connect product you can upload the documents to the employee’s connect profile.

You can avail of a free trial of the software or purchase a Bright Contracts licence to adapt these policies to your business today. If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Related Articles:

- Bright Contracts YouTube

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Law, Staff Handbook

11
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Changes under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021

Following on from the signatory into law by the President on the 27th of March, new provisions under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 were passed and as a result of these changes working parents are now entitled to additional time off under Parent’s Leave and adoptive couples can choose which parent can avail of Adoptive Leave.

What do these changes mean for employees?
Parent’s Leave
Paid parent’s Leave was initially introduced through the enactment of the Parent's Leave and Benefit Act 2019 and provided that 'relevant parents' of a child, born or adopted on or after 1st November 2019, were entitled to two weeks' paid leave, subject to eligibility, at a rate of €245 per week by the Department of Social Protection. A parent of a child born on or after 1st November 2019, a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the child’s parent, a parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, an adopting parent or parents of a child or the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting parent of the child. If the parent has already taken their two-week entitlement, then they can take a further three weeks in 2021 (subject to the two year limit).

Prior to this change, the parent availing of the leave had to take their Parent’s Leave entitlement within 52 weeks of their child’s birth or, placement with their adoptive family. Following the enactment of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021, as of April 1st 2021, parents are now entitled to five weeks leave under Parent’s Leave, which is an additional three weeks on the previous entitlement. The Act extends the period in which the leave can be taken, the leave can now be taken within the first two years after the birth or adoptive placement of a child. The purpose of this extension is to allow parents the opportunity to spend more time with their children during the first two years of their child’s life. Employers are not obliged to pay parents availing of Parent’s Leave; however, they can top-up the Parent’s Benefit if they wish.

Adoptive Leave
Under the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005, an adopting mother or sole male adoptive parent, in employment, is entitled to 24 weeks of adoptive leave from work which begins on the day of the child’s placement. Under the Act, the adoptive parent can apply for an adoptive benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection. The enactment of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 amends the Adoptive Leave Acts to enable adoptive couples to choose which parent may avail of adoptive leave therefore removing the assumption that the adopting mother is the primary caregiver.

As part of this entitlement, an additional 16 weeks leave is available to the adoptive parent but is not covered for state benefit. While employers are not obliged to pay employees who are on Adoptive Leave more favourable arrangements can be put in place.

What does this mean for employers?

There are now several options available to parents for leave which include the above, such as maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave. Employees are fully covered by employment legislation while availing of any of these leave options and are therefore subject to the same protections and cannot be penalised in any way. Employers should review their contracts of employment and the appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that the recent changes have been applied and communicated to all employees at the earliest opportunity.

Related Articles:

Out of Hours Communication: The Right to Disconnect

Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes as bullying?

Vaccinations and The Workplace

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Employment Law, News, Parental Leave

4
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Vaccine & The New World of Work Webinar

With vaccination rollout currently underway across Ireland employers are beginning to look at returning a number of their employees to the workplace over the coming months which means plans need to be in place and actions need to be carried out to ensure it is as smooth and safe a return as possible.

We recently hosted a webinar recently which detailed for our customers how best to tackle returning their employees to the workplace including implementing a vaccine policy. To view the webinar recording click below:

Bright Contracts has recently updated its software to include a COVID-19 vaccine policy applicable to any business/ industry. This policy is in addition to the COVID-19 Response Plan and Temporary Working From Home Policy currently available on Bright Contracts.

You can avail of a free trial of the software or purchase a Bright Contracts licence to adapt these policies to your business today. If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Update, GDPR, Health & Safety, Software Upgrade

20
Apr 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

How To Manage Annual Leave Backlog

With the lifting of some restrictions on the 12th of April, the country hopes to see further easing of restrictions in the coming months. Unfortunately this most likely will not mean travel abroad will be possible however staycationing in our Emerald Isle may be the way forward for the rest of this year. Since covid hit many employees have been unable to take annual leave and therefore it has been accumulating, meaning there is a backlog of annual leave to be used which employers are unsure how to manage.

Annual Leave Entitlements
Regardless of whether employees are full-time, part-time, casual or temporary, they are all entitled to annual leave under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Under this Act, the employer can decide the timing of an employee’s annual leave, providing the required notice and also taking into consideration the requirements of the business and the employee’s health and wellbeing.

In the coming months it is reasonable to assume that there will be an influx of annual leave requests therefore employers should revise their annual leave policies to ensure they remain valid and compliant with company policy and procedure. In some situations employers may also have annual leave carried over from the previous year to manage. In this instance, it is best practice for employers to be as flexible as possible to accommodate requests, particularly during these very tough times.

Annual Leave & Lay-off/ Short Time Working
Employees who were placed on lay-off during Covid-19 continue to accrue public holidays during the first thirteen weeks of the lay-off however they do not accrue annual leave during this period.

In relation to short time working, employees must meet the requirement of having worked a minimum of 40 hours in the five weeks prior to the public holiday in order to qualify for entitlement and to accrue annual leave pro-rata.

Annual Leave & The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
If the employer is availing of The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme but their employees are working their normal hours then their employees continue to accrue public holidays as normal and therefore are entitled to their statutory annual leave entitlement based on the hours worked.

Annual Leave & Covid Symptoms
If an employee displays any symptoms of covid-19 they should first contact their GP then contact their employer to explain the situation and not return to the workplace for 14 days after first experiencing symptoms. Employees are entitled to sick pay if detailed in the terms & conditions of their employment however if the employer does not pay sick pay then employees should apply for the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit.

Employer Requests: Taking Annual Leave During Covid-19
An employer can request an employee to take annual leave however this should be done in consultation with the employee and in consideration of the business needs. If the company is experiencing challenges it is recommended not to force employees to take all of their annual leave entitlement as the company must take into consideration the employee’s health & wellbeing.

Refusing Annual Leave Requests: Travelling Abroad
If an employee is travelling outside of the country employers cannot refuse an annual leave request based on this. The employer can encourage compliance with government guidelines and public health advice in relation to travelling outside of the country.

However, the employer may have a basis for refusing an annual leave request in relation to restrictions when the employee returns to Ireland in terms of quarantining or 14-day movement restrictions and the impact either of these will have on the business depending on the sector and if the employee is remote working.

Bright Contracts has recently updated its software to include a COVID-19 vaccine policy applicable to any business/ industry. This policy is in addition to the COVID-19 Response Plan and Temporary Working From Home Policy currently available on Bright Contracts.
You can avail of a free trial of the software or purchase a Bright Contracts licence to adapt these policies to your business today. If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Webinar: The Vaccine & The New World of Work  Register Today!

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Vaccinations and The Workplace

Role Changing During COVID-19: Can employers ask this of their employees?

Out of Hours Communication: The Right to Disconnect

Returning Staff to Work

Posted in Annual Leave, Coronavirus, Employee Handbook

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