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8
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Prevent Discrimination in the Workplace

Workplace discrimination is based on certain prejudices and occurs when an employee is treated unfavourably because of gender, sexuality, race, religion, pregnancy, or disability. Discrimination generally falls into two principal categories, known as direct and indirect discrimination.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when one individual receives less favourable treatment than another based on one or more of the nine grounds set out in the employment equality legislation. If a woman is paid less than a man to do the same job for no reason other than being a woman, this would represent direct discrimination.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when neutral requirements unjustly disadvantage a certain category of persons. An example of this may be requiring candidates for a manual labour position to have fluent English. This would put Irish nationals in a better position to secure the position over foreign nationals.

Discrimination by Association

Discrimination by association occurs when a person is treated less favourably based on their association with a person protected by one of the nine grounds. If someone is experiencing harassment at work because they are in a relationship outside work with a foreign national this would represent discrimination by association.

Discrimination by Imputation

If an employee is incorrectly identified as belonging to one of the categories of a person described under the nine grounds and receives less favourable treatment than colleagues this will amount to discrimination by imputation. If it is incorrectly assumed that an employee has a certain religious belief and that employee is treated less favourably on this basis this will be discrimination by imputation.

It's important to know that discrimination is carried out by individuals. Your organisation is liable for any actions carried out by an employee in the course of their employment. It is important to take action to reduce the possibility that any discriminatory action occurs.

As part of the action plan to reduce the risk of discrimination occurring within your organisation, you should ensure that all employees:

  • Understand that the organisation is committed to preventing all forms of discrimination
  • Are aware of and understand their roles and responsibilities with respect to promoting equality and diversity
  • Know how to seek advice and make a complaint in respect of discrimination
  • Are confident that the employer will treat any complaint seriously and that it will be dealt with promptly and fairly
  • Understand that any incident of discrimination will be viewed as a serious disciplinary matter
  • Understand the types of behaviour that will be regarded as discrimination.

Providing Training

You should ensure that all managers and supervisors undertake training in ensuring that the workplace remains discrimination-free. Equality training should not be confined to management-level employees. Training, information and skills development in relation to equality should be provided to staff at all levels throughout the organisation. All such training should be structured so that it is accessible to all employees.

  • You can communicate on equality issues through:
  • Induction training
  • Tailored in-house awareness training programmes
  • Employee briefings
  • Staff representatives
  • Information on staff notice boards
  • In-house magazine articles
  • The staff handbook and policy manual
  • Line manager and employee guides

 

It is important that there is action taken to ensure that discrimination is not in the workplace.

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Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

2
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Upcoming changes to the Whistleblowing Legislation

Whistleblowing is formally known as ‘making a protected disclosure’. The law protects employees who raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in the workplace. You are also protected if you are dismissed or penalized for reporting possible wrongdoing.

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014, provides protection from penalization for workers in all sectors who make a protected disclosure, otherwise known as whistleblowing. This includes protection against being dismissed, demoted, denial of access to promotion, etc. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 was amended by the EU (Protection of Trade Secrets) Regulations 2018 which introduce a public interest requirement for protected disclosures that contain trade secrets.

With the Act being one of the most robust whistle-blowers acts in Europe, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 must be strengthened to give effect to the EU Whistleblowing Directive. In February, the Government published the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022, which will transpose the “EU Whistle-blower Directive”.

The EU Whistle-blower Directive was originally intended to have been implemented in Ireland by 17 December 2021. Nevertheless, this legislation is still undoing the legislative process and is expected to take effect later this year.

The amended law will make it mandatory for all public sector organisations and all private-sector employers with 50 or more employees to establish and maintain internal reporting channels and procedures for employers to make protected disclosures.

In addition, the amendment to this legislation will expand the definition of relevant wrongdoing, reverse the burden of proof in alleged penalisation claims, and expands the forms of punishment that employees may seek interim relief from other than dismissal. Every organisation will be required to have a designated person who acknowledges, provides feedback, and handles complaints in accordance with the strict timeline. Punishment in certain cases will now carry criminal penalties, including If the confidentiality of the identity of a reporting person is breached.

These laws will initially apply to all public sector organisations and private sector organisations with 250 or more employees as of this spring. From 17th December 2023, private sector organisations with 50 or more employees will have to comply, although the Bill allows the Minister to reduce the threshold below 50 for certain classes of employers.

Whistle-blowing policies should be reviewed and updated now by employers, especially those within the private sector, ahead of the upcoming introduction of the enhanced regime.

 

 

Posted in Employment Law

26
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Handle Employee Resignations

When an employee resigns the employee will usually give full contractual notice of their resignation. However, an employee sometimes resigns in the heat of the moment. Regardless of the situation, you need to handle the situation properly.

What is Resignation?

Resignation is when an employee informs their employer that they’re quitting. The employment relationships can end in various ways, including:

  • An employee gives you their notice of resignation by speaking with you or handing in a letter of resignation
  • If your business ends the contract of employment
  • When an employee reaches justifiable retirement age.

Once an employee has notified you of their intention to resign, they must complete a notice period. The length of this notice period can be found in the employee’s contract of employment.

During this period you can begin to search to find a replacement for the role.

Notice Periods in Ireland

Notice periods in Ireland vary by each employee’s employment contract. The employee’s length of service is also taken into account. However, there are two common types of notice to keep in mind:

Contractual notice: You can decide the amount of contractual notice an employee must give. For example, two months’ notice may be required for an employee who has worked with your business for two years.

Statutory notice: This is the length of notice an employee is legally required to give. This will depend on their length of service.

If an employee has worked with your business for at least 13 weeks, they must give you at least one week’s notice.

What to do when an employee resigns?

When an employee decides to resign, it is natural that you may try to convince them to stay. If instead, you accept the resignation, there are some key steps to follow:

Get the resignation in writing

Written confirmation of the resignation must include the employee’s name, the date, and a signature.

Respond to the resignation

Acknowledge your acceptance of the resignation. This can be a written or verbal response.

Prepare a handover pack

A handover pack can come in handy for when the departing employee’s replacement starts

Conduct an exit interview

An exit interview will give you the opportunity to understand the employee’s reasons for resignation. This is also a good chance to listen to feedback for further improvements.

Retrieve business property

Make sure to retrieve any business property from the departing employees. These items can include computers, devices, uniforms, etc.

Lastly, remember to end the professional relationship on a positive note. You never know but the departing employee may wish to return to the company in the future.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

24
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Gender Pay Gap Reporting in Ireland

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth has finally published some details on how employers will have to calculate their gender pay gap statistics.

What will employers have to do?

Employers will have to report:

Mean and median pay gaps

Mean and median bonus gaps

The proportion of men and women that receive bonuses

The proportion of men and women that received benefits in kind

The proportion of men and women in each of four equally sized quartiles.

Employers must calculate these statistics for their employees using a snapshot date of their choice in June 2022 and using data from the preceding 12 months.

What is the gender pay gap reporting guidance?

If you are familiar with UK gender pay gap reporting, the Irish legislators have been heavily inspired by the UK regulations.

  • Bonuses will include “payments in the form of money, vouchers, securities options, or interests in securities, or, which relate to profit sharing, productivity, performance, incentive or commission”
  • Hours are defined very similarly. Employers must use the contracted hours (i.e., for salaried employees), a figure derived from a 12-week average for those with variable hours or some other figure that the employer selects. However, employers can also explicitly use the total number of actual hours worked (i.e., for waged employees where this is recorded).
  • Employers must prorate bonuses. Any bonuses paid must be prorated so that the amount included is proportional to the pay period. In the UK, this means taking one-twelfth of an annual bonus payment

These regulations will only apply to employers with 250 or more employees in the first two years after their introduction. In the third year, the requirements will also apply to employers with 150 or more employees. Thereafter, the requirements will apply to employers with 50 or more employees. The regulations will not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees.

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Posted in Employment Law

17
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Hiring Employees in Ireland

There are a number of steps you need to take when hiring employees in Ireland. This blog will help you get what you need to start hiring.

Background Checks

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2016, an adult will not have to disclose his or her conviction in respect of a range of minor offenses after seven years.

Data obtained by employers must be processed and held in compliance with data protection legislation. If a third party is conducting the background checks, the employer remains a data controller under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, and the third party acts as a processor as it would be processing the personal data of candidates on behalf of the employer.

The employer must ensure that the third party conducts all processing in compliance with the GDPR.

Medical Examinations

Individual offers of employment can be made conditional upon satisfactory health checks, but a prospective employer may be liable under a discrimination claim if the offer is not confirmed based on the information disclosed by the health check.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Employers are required to ensure the safety, health, and welfare at work of all employees. This includes ensuring the prevention of improper conduct or behaviour that is likely to put employees at risk. An employer may require an applicant to submit to a drug or alcohol test to the extent that this is required to ensure that the applicant may safely carry out the proposed role. These tests must be necessary and proportionate.

Contract of Employment

Employers are required to provide employees with key terms and conditions of employment within five days of commencing employment, commonly referred to as ‘The 5 Core Terms’. These include:

  • The full name of the employer and employee
  • Address of the employer
  • The expected duration of the contract (temporary or fixed-term)
  • The rate or method of calculating pay
  • The employers’ expectations of working hours.

Forming a contract can be very complicated. That’s where Bright Contracts steps in. Bright Contracts breaks it all down into a logical series of questions and inputs. All you have to do is provide the answers. The software provides handy tips and guidance where questions might be difficult to understand.

Probationary Period

Although there is no statutory maximum probationary period, an employer will typically provide a probationary period of six months subject to extension at the employer’s discretion. In practice, probationary periods should not be longer than 11 months to ensure that an employee does not accrue service to maintain a claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

When hiring employees in Ireland it is important to conduct necessary background checks, medical checks, drug/alcohol tests, and issue a contract of employment within five days of commencing employment.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Law

9
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The EU Work-Life Balance Directive Ireland

The Irish government has published details of the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022. It will introduce a right to request flexible working for employees with children up to the age of 12 and those with caring responsibilities. It will also introduce a right for employees to take up to five days’ unpaid leave per year to provide medical care for family members or those in their households.

The proposed bill is necessary to implement the EU Work-life Balance Directive, which is due to be transposed by August 2022.

Key Changes

The right to request flexible working

  • Employees who have a child up to the age of 12 and employees who are caring for a relative or someone they live with all have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes for a particular period.
  • Employees will be required to make such requests in writing no longer than six weeks before they intend to commence the period of flexible working. The request must specify the nature of the changes requested, the date of commencement and the duration of the set period.
  • If the request is granted, the employer and employee must sign an agreement outlining the changes to working arrangements, patterns or hours and stating the date of commencement and duration of the set period.
  • At the end of the flexible working arrangement, the employee is entitled to return to the original working arrangements, hours, or patterns.

Leave for medical care purposes

  • Any employee will be allowed to take up to five days unpaid leave per year, where for “serious medical reasons” the employee needs to provide personal care or support to a family member or the person who lives in the same household as the employee. The leave may not be taken in periods of less than one day.
  • Employees must confirm to their employer in writing that they have taken or intend to take this leave, the date of commencement, duration and a statement of the facts entitling the employee to the leave.
  • Employers will be able to request evidence from the employee of their relationship with the person being cared for, the nature of that care and medical certification of the serious medical issue in respect of the person requiring the care.

It is intended that the legislation will be passed and enacted by the August 2022 deadline.

 

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Posted in Employment Law, Hybrid Working

27
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Mental Well-being in the workplace

As employees return to the workplace after many months of working remotely, it is essential that employers consider the mental well-being of their workforce.

A small amount of stress might make an individual work harder or pay closer attention to detail employers needs to be mindful of the impact that stress can have on an employee’s well-being. A period of poor mental health can make it more difficult for an employee to think, feel and respond to situations which can affect their performance in their day-to-day role. As an employer, it is important to have policies and procedures in place so that you can respond appropriately and provide support as needed.

Employers can take positive steps to support individuals experiencing poor mental health, through actions such as implementing and maintaining a strong and clear mental health policy. By supporting employees experiencing mental health challenges, employers can see real benefits within their organisation.

These include the following:

  • Retaining valuable staff
  • Reducing sickness absence
  • Assisting staff members in reaching their full potential, leading to increased productivity
  • Enhancing health and safety within the workplace
  • Encouraging a healthier and more tolerant workforce

The first step to aid positive mental health in the workplace is to encourage an understanding of the importance of mental wellbeing. Employees who feel understood by their managers and colleagues are more likely to stay at work or return after a period of absence, which can help reduce long-term absences caused by mental health.

Ways employers can aid positive mental health in the workplace:

  • Offering flexible working
  • Invest in mental health training

Employers should be mindful that there are many other reasons why an employee may be struggling within their daily roles. Reasons such as a personal situation, physical illness, impact by the cost-of-living crisis, or the situation in Ukraine can contribute to why an employee may be struggling.

To help those who are struggling employers may consider an open workplace culture to encourage open conversations about mental health. This should make employees feel comfortable speaking openly and without fear or judgement about their mental well-being to their manager or colleagues. Organisations may also consider using an Employee Assistance Programme that can offer ongoing, anonymous assistance to all workers.

In conclusion, any person can suffer from mental illness and identifying if there is an underlying problem can be challenging. It is possible at any time for an employer to have an employee who is suffering from poor mental health. It is important for the employer to know how to support employees who need extra support.

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Posted in Health & Safety

21
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

New Legislation is Being Brought to Cabinet this Week

New legislation is being brought to Cabinet to allow parents to take up to five days off work to care for sick children. The new work-life balance laws will introduce unpaid leave for any employee who needs it to care for a family member.

Furthermore, any parent of a child under the age of 12, or a person caring for a relative, will have the right to request reduced or flexible working hours under the proposed new legislation Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman is bringing the legislation to Cabinet outlining the new workers’ rights which will give employees more options.

Under the legislation, employees must give their employer six months’ notice if they need more flexible working arrangements to take care of a child or relative. The employer must respond within four weeks.

Employees will not have to give notice to their employers when seeking unpaid leave to care for a family member. The employer will be able to request evidence of the medical need for the leave.

The legislation will be debated by the Cabinet this week.

Posted in Employment Law

15
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What You Need to Know About Employee Burnout

The switch to remote working in response to the coronavirus has seen a rise in employees reporting that they are working longer hours from home. Whether employees are on-site or working remotely, it is important for HR professionals and management to remain vigilant for signs of burnout among staff.

The term “burnout” is commonly used to describe a situation in which an employee experiences a period of mental or physical fatigue because of high-intensity pressure at work.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that burnout can have a negative impact on someone’s long term health. They also describe burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully.

Impact on employees

Burnout can have a negative impact on employees’ output, reducing their productivity and quality of their work. Individuals often display a drop in morale or low mood, prolonged periods of burnout may even result in the development of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Impact on employers

For employers, burnout can come at a huge financial cost, the drop in productivity and work quality may disrupt the ability to meet customer demand. A lack of employee engagement can also occur as a result which can often influence a company’s culture. Retention rates are likely to worsen if staff begin looking for preferable employment situations elsewhere.

Causes of burnout

There are a variety of factors that may cause an individual to suffer from burnout and it is important to understand that each situation will be different. Burnout will often be attributed to factors at work however there may be outside influences from an employee’s personal life that contributes to burnout.

Common causes of burnout in the workplace include:

  • excessive workloads
  • unequal distribution of work
  • prolonged working hours
  • inability to take rest breaks
  • unrealistic managerial expectations
  • toxic company culture
  • bully and harassment
  • health and safety concerns

 Spotting the signs

It’s important that you are prepared to spot the signs of burnout amongst staff when they present themselves. This can only be achieved by keeping a close eye on employees’ behaviour and performance. It may be difficult to spot but you should be looking out for employees who are arriving early to work or staying late after their contractual hours.

Failure to meet deadlines or an uncharacteristic drop in performance is also usually clear signs that an employee may be struggling with the pressures of work, as well as a sudden change in mood or excessive displays of emotion towards colleagues and third parties.

Responding to staff suffering from burnout

If an employee is showing signs of burnout, it is up to you to address the situation. Due to the nature of burnout solutions may vary for everyone.

  • There are several methods that are likely to prove effective:
  • removing any unnecessary causes of stress or agitation
  • assessing and redistributing workloads where necessary
  • providing extra training on areas of weakness
  • encouraging staff to make use of annual leave and rest breaks
  • investigating and resolving any allegations of bullying or harassment
  • providing access to medical support e.g., EAP

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Posted in Health & Safety

8
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The Great Resignation

Many employers are dealing with the issue of the ‘great resignation. Employees are casting a critical eye on their employer and what they are receiving from their organisation. As a result of this employers are looking for ways to attract and retain their best staff.

The pandemic has placed workers in a position where they could stop and revaluate many aspects of their lives, specifically when and how they work. Employees are becoming more aware of what organisations can offer in the form of benefits and career development opportunities. Employees want to feel personally valued within their workplace.

As an employer, you know how important it is to piece together a winning team. But it’s also important that you retain your great employees and do what you can to avoid losing talent.

Tips to help attract talent to your organisation

1. Develop an employer brand and promote your business as a desirable place to work and progress. Use social media to create brand awareness and publish job vacancies

2. Corporate social responsibility: by recognising and identifying your organisation’s corporate and social responsibilities you can demonstrate to employees the values that matter most to your organisation.

3. Create an employee-focused workplace culture. Employees value their personal time and appreciate it when their employers are considerate of this.

4. Offer benefits that can add value when trying to attract new employees. Offer something that other companies don’t offer. E.g., gym memberships, performance bonuses, team-building activities, free food etc.

To find out how to retain talented employees read our previous blogs:

Don't Forget About Your Valuable Retention Tool - Stay Interviews

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