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2
Jan 20

Posted by
Jen McBride

New Year, New HR You!

Start 2020 with some HR goals to put you on the front foot. Make your goals achievable and easy and you won’t be one of the 80% of people whose resolutions have fallen by the wayside by February 1st! Consider how technology could help you achieve a leaner you in 2020.

1. Cut out the fat…

Hate all those repetitive admin tasks that keep popping up over and over like manually recording your employees annual leave, amending employees’ personal details, making sure they are receiving and reading important company updates? Well, now is the time to get rid of them. Consider how an online platform could take care of those tasks and many more.

2. Get out and about more…

Manage your HR tasks from almost anywhere by using your Employer Dashboard to monitor your employees annual leave requests, review your payroll reports and keep an eye on your Revenue payments. As long as you have an internet enabled device, it can all be at your fingertips… anytime, anywhere!

3. Communicate better…

Use online document upload features to distribute, track and manage any information you want your staff to have access to. Contracts, policies, training, schedules, you name it. You have the peace of mind of knowing your employees have that information at their fingertips and that you can see a log of when and how often the are accessing it.

4. Face your fears….

GDPR and cyber security. The two scariest words in the English language. Free yourself from that fear with a robust online portal. Fully secure servers, individually password protected and fully GDPR compliant.

20
Dec 19

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Minimum wage to rise to €10.10 per hour

Minister, Regina Doherty, has announced that from 1 February 2020, the minimum wage will increase from €9.80 per hour to €10.10.

The decision to increase minimum wage by 30 cent follows a recommendation in October by the Low Pay Commission. Strong economic growth and greater certainty surrounding Brexit were two key factors in the decision to introduce the increase.

In order to ensure that the increase in the minimum wage does not result in employers attracting a higher level of PRSI, the employer PRSI threshold will increase from €386 to €395 from 1 February 2020.

Minister Doherty is quoted as saying that; “with this most recent increase in the National Minimum Wage, an employee on minimum wage who works a full 39 hour week will now receive an additional €11.70 per week, or an extra €608.40 gross per year.” It is estimated that over 127,000 workers will benefit from the increase.

Employers should also note that the minimum wage for younger workers will also increase:

  • Aged 19: €9.09
  • Aged 18: €8.08
  • Under 18: €7.07

 

15
Nov 19

Posted by
Nicola Sheridan

Parent's Leave is here

The Government’s newest way of enabling parents spend time with their new baby came into force on 1st November 2019. This is called Parent’s leave.

What you need to know:

  • This leave is currently capped at 2 weeks. The leave must be used before the child turns 1. In cases of multiple births, this leave can only be claimed once.
  • It can be taken as a continuous period of 2 weeks or in 2 separate 1 week blocks. 
  • Parent’s leave must be taken following the end of maternity leave (paid or unpaid) or paternity leave – there cannot be a break between these leave types.
  • Six weeks' notice of the intended use should be given to the employer by the employee.
  • Employers are allowed postpone parent's leave in situations where taking this leave would have an adverse effect on the business. However, it cannot be postponed for more than 12 weeks.
  • Parents receive a statutory payment, currently set at €245 per week (once they have the necessary PRSI contributions).

There is no requirement for employers to pay employees while on parent's leave. It will be up to each employer to decide if they want to top-up this payment. The advice would be to be consistent with approaches taken on the other family leave types.

What employers need to do now:

Company policies should now be reviewed and updated to reflect these changes. This will help you prepare for staff requests for parent’s leave. Should you get an employee request for parent’s leave, make sure you keep your paperwork & record keeping in order.

Bright Contracts has been updated with this policy so you can have peace of mind in knowing you are fully compliant with the new legislation.

 

16
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

9
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

22
Feb 19

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty has confirmed the new Employment Bill, which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years, will come into force on the 4th March. The Bill is being introduced to ‘improve the security of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours’, common in (but not exclusive to) service industries such as hospitality, tourism and retail. These industries often rely on flexibility in the employment contract and therefore the introduction of this new Bill will require them to take note.

The new Act makes certain breaches a criminal offence; where the employer does not comply with the new obligations in the Bill to provide the required information within one month, can lead to criminal prosecution. Fines on conviction could be up to €5,000 or imprisonment of up to twelve months or both. Directors, managers, secretaries or other officers of a company can be individually liable, i.e. be prosecuted individually for offences.

  • In summary, the new Act will:
  • Prohibit the use of Zero Hour contracts, save for exceptional circumstances
  • Obligate employers to notify new employees of five core terms of employment in writing within five days of commencing employment
  • Create a new entitlement to ‘Banded Hours’ contracts
  • Provide for minimum payments to employees who are required to be available to work but are not actually called to work

The Act also introduces an anti-penalisation provision whereby an employer may not penalize an employee for exercising their rights under the 1994 Terms of Employment Act. An employee who is penalized can be awarded compensation of such amounts as the WRC considers just but will not exceed four weeks remuneration.

The new Act will bring significant changes for Irish employers and employees and according to Minister Regina Doherty; the Act is a “once-in-a-generation reform of our labour market.”

 

Please visit Brightcontracts.ie for more information on the new Employment Bill which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years and is to be enacted on 4th March 2019.

 

Related Articles:

What are "banded hours"?

How to avoid PAYE Modernisation mistakes

Back to Basics - Disciplinary Steps and Sanctions

 

Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software | Bright Contracts

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Employment Update

19
Feb 19

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

What are “banded hours”?

The Employment Act 2018 creates a new right for employees whose employment contract does not accurately reflect the reality of the hours they work on a consistent basis. After a reference period of 12 months, employees will be able to request in writing to be placed in a band of hours that better reflect their average weekly hours worked. In response, employers are obliged to place the employee in the appropriate band and should do so within four weeks of receiving the employee’s request.

The appropriate band is determined by the employer on the basis of the average number of hours worked by the employee per week during the reference period.

The appropriate bands are laid down in law as set out in the below table.

   Band A:       3 to 6 hours   
   Band B:       6 to 11 hours   
   Band C:       11 to 16 hours   
   Band D:       16 to 21 hours   
   Band E:       21 to 26 hours   
   Band F:       26 to 31 hours   
   Band G:       31 to 36 hours   
   Band H:       over 36 hours   


An employer may refuse to place an employee in a band in one of the following circumstances:

  • Where there is no evidence to support the employee’s claim
  • Where there have been significant adverse changes to the business during or after the reference period
  • Due to exceptional circumstances, an emergency or unforeseeable circumstances beyond the employer’s control
  • Where the average hours worked by the employee were affected by a temporary situation that no longer exists

In determining the 12 month reference period, a continuous period of employment immediately before the legislation is to be enacted on 4th March 2019 will be reckonable towards the 12 month reference period. Please visit Brightcontracts.ie for more information on the new Employment Bill which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years.

The Bill is being introduced to ‘improve the security of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours’, common in (but not exclusive to) service industries such as hospitality, tourism and retail. These industries often rely on flexibility in the employment contract and therefore the introduction of this new Bill will require them to take note.

BrightPay Payroll Software | Thesaurus Payroll Manager | Bright Contracts

Posted in Employment Contract, Employment Update

17
Sep 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Data Protection complaints increase since introduction of GDPR

Nearly 4 months since the General data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced across all of Europe, complaints around Data Protection have nearly doubled in the UK and are up by nearly 2 thirds in Ireland.


GDPR was designed to give Data Subjects more control over their personal data, with more transparency and the threat of larger fines to those in breach of the new rules. The GDPR requires any company that suffers a data breach to notify its users/data subjects within 72 hours of the breach being discovered.


• Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), head of communications - Graham Doyle has said that ‘there has been a significant increase in the volumes of both breaches and complaints to the DPC since May 25th.’ Since GDPR enforcement began the DPC has seen monthly data breach reports double, while data protection complaints increased by 65%.

• Data protection complaints to the UK’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO) rose to 4214 in July compared to just 2310 complaints received in May before the GDPR came into force. A spokes person for the ICO said the increase was expected, as more users became aware of data protection because of publicity around the new rules and following a series of high-profile data scandals involving big technology firms.


Experts note, however that the increase does not mean that the number of data breaches has suddenly gone up, but rather reflects the full scale of the data breach problem becoming better known.
Organisations that fail to comply with GDPR can face fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater. So far none of the EU’s Data Protection Agency’s has issued any fines. Graham Doyle at the DPC said ‘It is too soon to expect to see any fines levied against organizations that have violated GDPR – given its only 3 months after it went into full effect.’

 

We will be hosting a free online webinar - ‘GDPR 3 Months On’ on Thursday September 20th at 11am, where Graham Doyle will joining us as a guest speaker.


To register for this webinar please click here.

Posted in Company handbook, Employee Contracts, Employee Self Service, Employment Update, Events, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

8
Aug 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Back to Basics - Disciplinary Steps and Sanctions

Another question that comes up from time to time is how and when to initiate the disciplinary procedures - How many warnings can an employee receive before being dismissed? When do I give a final warning? Can I fire my employee for committing an offence of gross misconduct?

The first step is always to inform the employee of issues that you may have, even minor issues; whether it is with their job performance, their time keeping, or even a breach of company rules, by means of informal counselling. The employee must be given the appropriate time/measures to defend themselves or at least be given the chance to rectify the problem. Prior to taking the decision to invoke the disciplinary procedure, the employer must ensure that the situation has been thoroughly investigated.

The following disciplinary procedures should apply in matters of discipline; constant repetition of minor offences, willful negligence or unsatisfactory performance or complaints, that are found to be proven against the employees.

The stages in the procedure are as follows:

• Stage 1 - Verbal Warning
• Stage 2 - First Written Warning
• Stage 3 - Final Written Warning                                                                                                                      The final written warning will state clearly that the next stage may be termination of employment if conduct and/or performance does not improve.
• Stage 4: Action Short of Dismissal
In exceptional circumstances, and depending on the individual case, The Company may exercise its discretion to suspend with or without pay. Demotion to a lower position or rate of pay and transfer to another position may also be considered. This is action short of dismissal.
• Stage 5: Dismissal
In an instance of gross misconduct, a full investigation will be conducted and a disciplinary meeting will be held. This will follow the normal procedures outlined above, but the outcome, if found to be gross misconduct, will almost certainly result in dismissal due to the serious nature of the situation.

At each stage in the procedure a disciplinary meeting should be held, where all the facts will be considered and any mitigating circumstances discussed, as well as timelines imposed for improvements, etc. Where a warning is issued, a copy will be placed on the employees personnel file for a defined period. All warnings issued under this procedure will state clearly that the employee will be liable for further disciplinary action should their performance not improve or should there be a further breach of company rules or procedures. In the event of no further transgression occurring and the performance improving, the warning will be removed after a period of no more than 12 months and the employee’s file will be clear. The employee will also be advised of his/her right to appeal against disciplinary action taken.

This is an area where employer’s need to tread carefully, at all times fair procedures must be applied and the company’s’ policy regarding disciplinary steps and sanctions should be adhered to. Once these steps are followed there is no reason why an employer cannot dismiss an employee without repercussions. Most employers tend to fall down and lose Unfair Dismissal cases brought against them, not because they didn’t have disciplinary procedures in place, but because they did and they failed to actually follow them.

Bright Contracts has a very robust Discipline and Grievance Policy set out in its Handbook with all the relevant procedures that an employer needs. To download a free trial of Bright Contracts click here. To request an online demo of Bright Contracts, click here.

 

Bright Contracts | Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

Posted in Dismissals

24
Jul 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Back to Basics - New Employees

We often get calls into the helpline requesting basic information on HR/Employment Law queries like how to deal with new starters or when should an employer invoke the disciplinary procedures, so we will look at some basic HR topics in a series of blogs starting today with new employees.


New Employees
• A new employee is required by law, under the Unfair Dismissal Act, to receive a copy of the company’s ‘Dismissal Procedures’, which are usually contained in the ‘Disciplinary/Grievance Procedures’ of the Staff or Company Handbook, within 28 days of starting work with the company.
• Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 the employer is obliged to furnish new employees within 2 months of starting, with a ‘Written Statement of ‘certain’ terms and conditions’ of their employment, also known as an ‘Employment Contract’.
• The new GDPR regulations specify that employers must provide their employees with information about what personal data they hold on them, for what purpose and how it was collected, who it may be shared with, what security measures are in place to keep it safe and what the employee’s rights are as well as other specific requirements. This is called an ‘Employee Privacy Policy’ or ‘Employee Privacy Notice’ and should be given to the employee as an addendum to their Employment Contract.

Based on these 3 pieces of legislation it would be best practice to provide your new starter with their Employment Contract, Privacy Policy and Staff/Company Handbook on their first day of work, if not before it. An employer can be fined up to 4 weeks pay for not providing the employee with their ‘Written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment’ within the 2 month timeframe, so it is best to get into the habit of furnishing the documents as soon as possible.

There is no requirement for a signature from the employee on any of these documents; however it would be prudent of an employer to request a signature from the employee or at least some form of acknowledgement or proof of the employee receiving the documents.

The new Employment Bill 2017, yet to be introduced, stipulates that a new employee should receive some details of their terms of employment within 5 days of starting with a company but it is yet to be seen whether this aspect of the Bill will get the go ahead.

Bright Contracts offers employers a simple and user-friendly system which enables them to easily create and customize all of these documents and keep an electronic record on file. To download a Free Trial click here or book an online Demo of the Bright Contracts software.

 

Bright Contracts | Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, GDPR, Staff Handbook

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