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22
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Bullying in the Workplace: What you need to know

We have already discussed in a previous blog post Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes bullying? What bullying is and what constitutes bullying. In this post we are going to discuss the effects bullying have at work, the role of the employer and the employee to prevent bullying at work and actions and measures you can take to tackle bullying.

The effects of Bullying at Work

Workplace bullying and related complaints can have a range of effects on both employees and employers. For the employer, the effects can include reputation damage, absences of employees in the workplace, reduced productivity, increased costs, poor morale, and loss of respect for managers and supervisors.

For the employee or the target of bullying behaviour, the effects can include stress, low morale, reduced performance, and lower productivity. Some people decide to leave their employment, exposing themselves to financial strains.

Prevention of Bullying at Work- Role of Employer

Every person in the workplace has a role in promoting a positive workplace free from bullying behaviour.

An employer should:

  • Uphold the duty to manage and conduct work activities in such a way as to prevent any improper conduct or behaviour that is likely to risk an employee’s safety, health or welfare at work. Employers must act reasonably to prevent workplace bullying patterns developing, where there is a complaint, the employer must react reasonably, assess the complaint, and record actions on each case.
  • Develop a workplace anti-bullying policy, in consultation with employees, to ensure a system is in place for dealing with complaints and that disciplinary action may follow where bullying has occurred.

Prevention of Bullying at Work- Role of Employee

How an employee behaves in a way that is acceptable. Employees both individually and within teams and groups, have a role in promoting positive behaviour to others, relating in a clear, civil and respectful way to everyone in the workplace.

Under section 13 of the 2005 Act employees’ duties include to:

  • Comply with the relevant statutory provisions, as appropriate, and take reasonable care to protect their safety, health and welfare of any other person who may be affected by the employee’s acts
  • Co-operate with their employer or any other person so far as is necessary to enable their employer or any other person to comply with the relevant statutory provisions.
  • Not engage in other behaviour that is likely to endanger a person’s own safety, or their health and welfare at work or any other person at work during the course of the employment.

Measures to Prevent Bullying in the Workplace

  • Promotion and reinforcement of a positive workplace culture
  • Effective Anti-Bullying policies, to be used and promoted in the workplace
  • Widespread policy awareness
  • Appropriate training as required for those managing complaints and for line management
  • Contact person/appropriate support available

There may be value in appointing a Contact Person who acts as the first step for anyone enquiring about a possible bullying case. Where the organization can support this, it can help to resolve matters earlier and more effectively.

The Contact Person should be supportive and listen and offer guidance in line with company policy and procedures all on a confidential basis. This person should be carefully selected and trained. The main purpose of this role is to be supportive, they will have no role in the investigation of any complaints and should not be tasked with any further involvement in the details or right and wrongs of a complaint.

Related Articles:

Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes as bullying?

What You Need to Know About Staff Handbooks

 

 

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

15
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The Importance of HR Policies & Procedures

HR Policies are formal rules and guidance for managers and employees setting out how to manage a range of employment issues in the workplace.

A policy is a guiding principle used to set direction in an organization. It should be used as a guide to decision making under a given set of circumstances within the framework of objectives set out by senior management

A procedure is a particular way of accomplishing something. It should be designed as a set of series of steps to be followed as a consistent and repetitive approach or cycle to accomplish an end result

Purposes of HR Policies and Procedures

HR policies and procedures give guidance on a range of employment issues for employees, managers and others with responsibility for people.

They:

  • Set clear standards and expectations and creates awareness
  • Transparently communicates the conditions of employment
  • Ensures employees are treated equally and fairly
  • Creates a safe and healthy work environment
  • Creates a channel for addressing employee grievances and disputes
  • Mitigate risks

How to communicate HR Policies

  • Must be issued to all employees
  • Must be in writing (company handbook)
  • Employees must be informed of policies on commencement of employment
  • Employees must sign off on policies
  • Policies must be accessible and reviewed frequently
  • Managers must be coached and sufficiently trained.

Rather than incorporating policies into the contract, you may consider;

  • Referring to the policies and procedures and where they can be found
  • Confirm that they don’t form part of the employee’s contract of employment

Essential Policies

  • Some essential policies that should be included are:
  • Disciplinary
  • Grievance
  • Dignity in the workplace (Bullying, Harassment, etc)
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Retirement Policy
  • Right to Disconnect
  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • Probation Policy
  • Absence Policy
  • Data Protection
  • Confidentiality
  • Hybrid Working
  • Flexible Work

In order to build a good company, it is essential for employees to be able to work together peacefully. Having a proper set of policies and procedures in place can make this happen.

Bright Contracts handbook provides all the policies and procedures any SME would need. It allows you to edit the text to suit your company’s needs.

Related Articles: 

What You Need to Know About Staff Handbooks

Time Saving With Bright Contracts

 

 

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

11
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Managing Annual Leave & Public Holidays

These topics create some confusion amongst employers, this blog post will hopefully line out any confusion that employers may have.

What is a public holiday?

A public holiday is nationally recognised day when most businesses and other institutions are closed. They usually occur on a special day or event. For example, St Patrick's Day and Christmas Day.
In 2022 we were introduced to a new once off public holiday that will take place on Friday, 18th of March. From 2023 there will be a new annual public holiday in February to celebrate St Brigid’s Day, it will happen on the first Monday in February.

When are the public holidays?

• New Year’s Day
• First Monday in February, or 1st of February if the date falls on a Friday (2023 onwards)
• Saint Patrick’s Day
• Once off public holiday (18th March 2022 only)
• Easter Monday
• First Monday in May
• First Monday in June
• First Monday in August
• Last Monday in October
• Christmas Day
• St Stephens Day

What are employees entitled to?

Most employees are entitled to a day paid leave on public holidays. There is an exception for certain part-time employees.

If you qualify for public holiday benefit, you are entitled to:
• A paid day off on the public holiday
• An additional day of annual leave
• An additional day’s pay
• A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

Part time employees are entitled to a day’s pay for the public holiday if they meet the following requirements:
• You have worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday
• The public holiday falls on the day you normally work

If you are required to work on the day the public holiday falls you are entitled to an additional day’s pay. If you do not work on the day, you should get one fifth of your weekly pay.

Annual Leave

We all know that employers are obliged to provide paid annual leave under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. This act applies to all employees working under a contract of employment.

The amount of holidays an employee receives is calculated by the amount of work the employee does in the leave year.

If an employee works 1365 hours in a leave year they will be entitled to 4 normal working weeks of annual leave.

To calculate annual leave for employees who have worked less than 1365 hours in the annual leave year, they receive one-third of a week for each month that 117 hours are worked or 8% of the hours worked up to a maximum of 4 working weeks.

Accrual of Annual Leave

Employees will begin to accrue annual leave from the first date of employment.

Accrued from hours:

  • Physically and notionally worked
  • All time on certified sick leave
  • Time worked on public holidays
  • Annual leave itself

Related Articles:

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Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Handbook, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook, Wages

4
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Managing Covid-19 in the Workplace

With the cases of Covid-19 still on the rise, it’s important that your employees are safe at work.

The Work Safety Protocol which has been in place since the 31st of January 2022 is still fully applicable in all workplaces. As of now, there are no plans in place to update the document. All companies should have a Covid-19 response plan.

You are probably wondering what type of information you should provide to employees on how to manage symptoms, cases and contacts. Employees should be directed to the general Covid-19 information on the HSE website.

Employees that are displaying cold and hay fever symptoms and are reluctant to attend the workplace should not attend the workplace. They should be directed to the HSE website and asked to comply with the public health requirements.

The current advice is that if you are showing symptoms, even mild ones you should:

• self-isolate (stay in your room) until 48 hours after your symptoms are mostly or fully gone

• wear a face mask if you have to be around other people#

This applies even if you completed your first round of Covid-19 vaccination, had a booster or had Covid-19 in the past.

Displaying Symptoms in the Workplace

If an employee is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 in the workplace the person should be moved to a designated isolation area and provided with a suitable face covering in order to minimize the risk of transmission.

Distinguishing between Covid-19 and Hay fever symptoms

Employees who suffer from hay fever are usually familiar with the symptoms. If in doubt they should follow public health advice and not attend the workplace until 48 hours after their symptoms are mostly or fully gone.

Managing Close Contacts in the Workplace

The advice around close contacts has changed. If an employee thinks they have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19, they do not need to restrict movements or self-isolate. They should:

Watch out for symptoms of Covid-19 - it can take up to 14 days after you are infected for symptoms to show.

Take extra care to follow the advice on protecting others from Covid-19, in case you have the virus.

Testing Positive

All confirmed cases should self-isolate for a full 7 days from the date of onset symptoms or is asymptomatic, from the date of a positive test result.

Reporting Outbreaks

There is no longer a requirement to report an outbreak to the HSE.

Related Articles

Update: Steps to Reduce the Spread of Covid-19 in the Workplace

Posted in Coronavirus, Health & Safety

29
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Parent's Leave & Benefit Act 2019

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 came into effect on the 1st of November 2019.  From July 2022 this Act provides for 7 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 7 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

28
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Legislation Updates June 2022

This month has been quite busy with legislation updates from the Government, read this blog post to find out the most recent updates from this month.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

On the 3rd of June the Gender Pay Gap regulations were published. Employers with 250+ employees on the snapshot date (chosen by the employer) will have to report on the 12-month period preceding and including the chosen snapshot date on the mirror date in December 2022. In 2024 this will extend to employers of 150+ and in 2025 it will extend to 50+ employees.

To approach the calculation of their gender pay gap metrics, organisations must do the following:

  • Choose the snapshot date in June 2022
  • The reporting deadline is 6 months after the snapshot date, in December 2022.
  • The reporting period is the 12-month period immediately preceding and including the snapshot date

For example: if the organization chooses Tuesday 25th of June as their snapshot date. Its reporting deadline is 25th December, and the reporting period is 24th June 2021 to 25th June 2022.

 

Statutory Sick Leave Bill 2022

The Statutory Sick Leave Bill has passed the 2nd stage in the Seanad. It is suppose to be in enacted by September 2022.

Read more here: Preparing for New Sick Pay Rules

 

Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill

The Government has approved the drafting of the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to increase the participation of women in the labor market and the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements.

Read more here: The EU Work-Life Balance Directive Ireland

 

Parent's Leave and Benefits Act 

Lastly, The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019, which was introduced on the 1st of November 2019, currently provides for 5 weeks of Parent’s Leave for each parent to allow them time off around the birth or adoption of their child or the child of their spouse or partner. Parent’s leave and benefits will increase from 5 to 7 weeks in July.

Posted in Employment Law, Employment Update

24
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Hiring Young People in Ireland

Young employees are people aged 14 to 18, who work for an employer. As young workers are generally in full-time education, they are protected by a different employment law than adult workers. This is to make sure their work does not put their health or education at risk.

Restrictions on Employing 14 & 15 Year-Olds

By law, children ages 14 and 15 cannot be employed in regular full-time jobs.

However, they can:

  • Do light work during the school holidays
  • Take part in an approved work experience or educational program
  • Work in film, culture, advertising, or sport

Working Hours for 14 & 15 Year-Olds

Outside school term time

Can work a maximum of 35 hours a week or up to 40 hours if they are on approved work experience.

During school term time

Children aged 14 are not allowed work during school time. Children aged 15 can do 8 hours of light work a week.

Restrictions on Employing 16 & 17 Year-Olds

Young people aged 16 and 17 can work a maximum of 8 hours a day, up to 40 hours a week.

Young people are only allowed to work between 6 am and 10 pm.

Paying Young Employees

All employees have a right to get a payslip. A payslip is a written statement from the employer that explains your total pay before tax, and all details of any deductions from pay.

Minimum Wage

Since 1 January 2022, the national minimum wage is €10.50 per hour. However, not everyone is automatically entitled to get this.

Aged 20 and over- €10.50 an hour

Under18 - €7.35

Aged 18 - €8.40

Aged 19 - €9.45

Your employer can pay you more than the minimum wage if they want, but they are not required to by law.

Employers’ Responsibilities

Employers must keep records for every employee under 18, including:

  • The employee’s full name
  • The employee’s date of birth
  • The employee’s starting and finishing times for work
  • The wage rate and total wages paid to the employee

The employer must keep these records for at least 3 years.

Employers must also give employees aged under 18 a copy of the official summary of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, and other details of their terms of employment within one month of taking up a job.

Employers with employees under 18 must also display the official summary of the Act in their workplace, where it can easily be read by staff.

Breaches of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act

Employers who are found guilty of an offense under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act can be fined up to €1,904.61 and an extra €317.43 a day for a continuing offence.

 

Related Articles:

Hiring Employees in Ireland

Employee Inductions: The Complete Guide

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

17
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Employee Inductions: The Complete Guide

Workplace induction is the process of getting new employees familiar with your business. This includes helping them get comfortable with their new jobs and providing them with information to make them valuable team members. Research suggests that induction programmes benefit both employers and employees.

A good induction program sets the tone and expectations for employees. It also details their relationship with managers and the organisation. It helps new employees know the purpose, functions, and tasks of their job.

Topics to Cover During Induction

Usually, managers and supervisors are responsible for handling workplace induction. Induction training needs to include practical information that immerses the employee into the company culture. Meeting new colleagues and getting familiar with the workplace are essential. Everybody wants to feel welcomed and secure on their first day.

Heath and Workplace Safety

Learning health and safety procedures on the first day is necessary. This includes going over any specific safe work procedures your company has.

Documents and Policies

During induction make sure each employee fills out and signs all necessary employment paperwork. You should also help employees understand the incident reporting system at your company. A strong understanding of workplace procedures allows new employees to be the most dependable team members from the beginning.

Benefits of an effective induction programme

A well-designed induction programme results in a positive first experience of an orgaisation. It means the employee:

  • Settles in quickly
  • Integrates into their team
  • Understands the oganisation’s values and culture
  • Feels supported
  • Becomes productive quickly
  • Works to their highest potential

Without an effective induction, new employees can get off to a bad start, and lack clarity on their role and how it links to the organisation’s goals, which could impact on their intention to stay in the role.

What to avoid in Induction

  • Providing too much, too soon - the inductee must not be overwhelmed by a mass of information, especially on the first day.
  • Pitching presentations at an inappropriate level - where possible, presentations should be tailored to consider prior knowledge of new employees.
  • Creating an induction programme which generates unreasonable expectations by overselling the job.
  • Creating an induction programme that focuses only on administration and compliance but does not reflect organisational values.

An effective induction programme should be engaging and reassure the new employee that they have made the right decision to join the business.

The induction process should be evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the needs of the new recruits and the organisation. This should include opportunities for feedback at the end of the induction process and allow new recruits to highlight areas for improvement.

As well as getting feedback from new employees, it is important to identify key measures of success of the induction process.

 

Related Articles: 

Hiring Employees in Ireland

10 Tips for Employee Retention

 

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment

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.

Related Articles: 

Don't Get Caught Out: Maximum Award For The Employee Against Mandatory Retirement

The WHO?WHAT?WHERE? and WHY? Of The WRC

Hiring Employees in Ireland

 

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

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