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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

6
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

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

Exit interviews are common amongst many Irish workforces. They are used to determine what prompted an employee to leave and to provide a final chance to persuade them to stay. Stay interviews give an organisation an opportunity to assess what improvements can be made now to avoid further resignations. They provide a more personal platform than what is currently in place from engagement or satisfaction surveys. It also allows for the building of trust between employees and managers, where both parties can discuss ideas.

A stay interview conducted between a manager and an employee can give an overview of what encourages the person to stay, the improvements that can be made, and what caused them to look for external opportunities. Identifying these issues early and acting on them contributes to long-term retention, increased motivation, improved productivity, and overall success for both the business and its people.

What should a stay interview look like?

Interviews don’t need to be long; they can be completed in as little as 20 minutes. Key questions to cover in the meeting could be what employees look forward to and what they dread about work each day, whether they would recommend the company to others, what would make their role more satisfying and how they would like to be recognised and valued.

What happens after a stay interview?

Organisations that decide to conduct stay interviews should remember that their workforce will expect an outcome so be prepared to implement positive changes. Failure to do so can increase frustrations amongst staff and make them feel that their voice is not heard.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

31
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Preparing for New Sick Pay Rules

Until now, Irish employers have not been obliged to pay employees during sick leave. The new legislation changes that.

The new statutory sick pay rules are due to come into effect imminently in Ireland. Irish employment contracts may provide for a limited period of sick pay, but this has always been at the discretion of the employer. If employers chose not to provide this, affected employees must apply for state-sponsored illness benefits subject to PRSI contributions.

This is now going to change. The obligation to pay an employee sick leave will now be on the employer.

 

What are the changes?

Under the new regime employees will have an entitlement to three days of paid sick leave this year. This is then due to go up to five next year, seven in 2024 and ten in 2025. The increases will be made by way of ministerial order each year. Factors including the state of the economy generally must be considered by the minister when making their decision.

The draft bill does not specify the amount of statutory sick pay. It simply states that an employer must pay a prescribed daily rate for a statutory sick leave payment. The intention of the government is to place a cap on the amount of statutory sick leave. It has been suggested that an employer will only be obliged to pay up to 70% of wages subject to a cap of €110 a day.

Employees will need to have at least 13 weeks of continuous service before they are eligible for statutory sick pay. It’s important to note that employees will be obliged to furnish a medical certificate in respect of each day of statutory sick leave.

If an employer already provides more favourable sick leave benefits to an employee, they will not be obliged to comply with the statutory sick pay rules. However, the employer will have to demonstrate that any discretionary or pre-existing scheme is more favourable than the one provided in the legislation.

 

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Sick Leave/Absence Management

16
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Unfair Dismissal Claims & How to avoid them

An unfair dismissal can occur when your employer terminates your contract of employment with or without notice or the employee terminates their contract of employment with or without notice due to the conduct of your employer.

A dismissal is automatically considered to be unfair if you are dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • Membership or proposed membership of a trade union or engaging in trade union activities
  • Religious or political opinions
  • Legal proceedings against an employer where you are a party or a witness
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age, or member of the Traveller community
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth
  • Availing of rights under legislation to maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, carer’s leave, parental leave, or force majeure leave
  • Unfair selection for redundancy

 

Steps to avoid Unfair Dismissal

Have clear policies

It is important to ensure that all new and current employees have access to the companies’ policies regarding harassment, dress code and attendance policies. The policies must be easy to read for the employee and available to them at any stage during their employment. These policies are not only to keep employees informed but they are used as important reference points to use as the employer during the disciplinary process. Failing to follow these policies can result in an unfair dismissal claim.

HR & Equality training

Employers need to make sure that the dismissal is thoroughly thought through beforehand and is not an impulsive retaliation to an employee’s actions. By providing training for all staff members involved in the dismissal process you will know that the process is being conducted legally.

Keep track of employee conduct

Terminating an employee can sometimes devolve into a he-said she-sad argument with no clear winner. Without proper documentation, it can be difficult to terminate an employee without fearing an unfair dismissal claim. When you begin to see that an employee might not be suitable for your company, start keeping track of their misconduct. Use a word document or journal to keep track of any problems the employee encounters. For example, take note of any time they showed up late or were not dressed appropriately.

Implement a performance management plan

When you first discuss with the employee about potentially dismissing them, you will need to set up a performance management plan to give your employee a chance to improve. If you still need to terminate this employee, the document plan shows that you tried to help your employee. Employers can do this by setting up parameters and goals for their improvement.

 

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Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

10
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What you Need to Know About Retirement Ages

In contracts of employment and employee handbooks, many Irish employers include a mandatory retirement age. In October 2021 the report of the Commission on Pensions was published. The report has recommended that legislation should be introduced to prevent employers from setting a compulsory retirement age below the state payment age which is currently 66.

In 2021 it was intended to further increase the State pension age to 67 from 2021, but the legislation was enacted in 2020 that suspended the increase. The Pensions Commission’s report has recommended that legislation should be introduced to prohibit employers from setting a retirement age below the State pension age. This will not affect an employee’s ability to retire at an earlier age if they choose to.

The Pensions Commission also recommends that the State pension age should increase gradually by three months per year from 2028 to reach 67 in 2031. Additionally, further increases should be implemented every second year after 2031, with the State pension age eventually reaching 68 in 2039.

It is likely that The Commission’s report has been referred to the Cabinet Committee and is being considered to bring an implementation plan to the government by the end of March 2022.

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Employment Law

3
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Redundancy Payment Amendment

The Redundancy Payments (Amendment) Bill 2022 was published on the 21st of January 2022. The legislation will amend the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 to provide payments from the Departments of Social Protection to employees who were laid off during the pandemic. (13th March 2020 – 30 September 2021) Currently, periods of lay-off in the final three years of services do not count as a reckonable service. They are excluded from the amount of the statutory redundancy payment.

The Bill seeks to give employees who have lost out on their reckonable service while they were laid off during the pandemic a special payment of up to a maximum of €1,860 tax-free. This aims to close the gap in employees’ redundancy entitlements and ensure that the employee being made redundant will receive the same total redundancy payment as if they had not been laid off due to Covid-19.

To qualify for this entitlement, an employee must qualify as normal for a statutory redundancy payment. Employers may apply for the payment on behalf of the employee to the Department of Social Welfare. If the employer refuses to do the application for the employee all necessary information and documentation must be available to the employee. The amount of payment will be determined by the difference between the lump sum to which the employee would have been entitled to on redundancy if they had not been laid off due to Covid-19 and the amount to which the employee is entitled to be made redundant. Employers need to ensure that all their records in relation to any layoffs during the period (13th March 2020 – 30 September 2021) are up to date.

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Let's Talk Redundancy

 

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

28
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Let's Talk Redundancy

Redundancy occurs when an employee loses their job due to circumstances such as the closure of the business or a reduction in the number of staff. There are many reasons why an employee could be made redundant, such as the financial position of the company, lack of work, reorganisation with another organisation, or the company closing completely. Being made redundant can be an extremely tough situation for the employee, it is important as an employer to understand how the employee may feel at this time and make them aware of the support that is available to them.

Who is eligible for redundancy?

An employee is entitled to a redundancy payment after they have two years’ service. To be eligible for a redundancy payment:

  • The employee must be over the age of 16,
  • Be in employment that is insurable under the Social Welfare Acts,
  • Have worked continuously for their employer for at least 104 weeks over the age of 16
  • Your role has been made redundant

Part-time workers cannot be treated any different to the full-time workers but still must meet the requirement of the two years’ continuous service.

Redundancy Procedures

Employers must follow certain procedures when making an employee redundant. They must be fair and reasonable upon the selection of choosing people to be made redundant.

Some examples of fair selection include:

  • Last in, first out - The newest staff is the first to go
  • Voluntary redundancy
  • Point system - Employees doing the same job are ranked by objective criteria such as attendance record, the standard of work done, skills and qualifications.

If employees feel they have been unfairly selected for redundancy you can bring a claim of unfair dismissal.

Notice of redundancy

The notice period (time given to employees before they are made redundant) goes up depending on how long the employee has worked for the employer.

  • Between 2-5 years – 2 weeks’ notice
  • Between 5-10 years – 4 weeks’ notice
  • Between 10-15 years – 6 weeks’ notice
  • Over 15 years – 8 weeks’ notice

 Offering alternative work

Before the role can be made redundant, the employer may offer the employee another job in the business. This is known as alternative work. This alternative work should be given to the employee in writing and provide full information about the offer.

If the employee accepts the alternative role, they may take it up on a trial basis for up to four weeks. However, the employee will not be entitled to claim redundancy if:

  • They accept a new contract with immediate effect, and the terms of employment are the same as their previous contract
  • They accept an offer in writing for a new and different contract which will start within four weeks of their previous contract ending.

If the employee refuses a reasonable offer of alternative work from the employer, they may lose their entitlement to a redundancy payment.

If the employee loses status, have worse terms and conditions of employment or must travel an unreasonable distance to work this will not be considered as a reasonable alternative.

 

 

 

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

21
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

10 Tips for Employee Retention

For employers, the pandemic was a test like no other. It may have been the biggest challenge faced in the world of HR. Unexpected changes to the lifestyle of the workplace meant that employees found themselves working in the comfort of their homes.

Facing challenges tends to make teams stronger. Employees learned new skills, employers invested to make remote work successful and found ways to work together no matter the circumstance. How you handle these challenges reflects the company culture and future growth of the company and having employees want to stick around.

If you are struggling to retain employees here are some tips on how to retain employees.

1. Positive onboarding experience.

Just because you have employed a new employee does not mean the hiring process is over as soon as they start. Month two is the exact same as day one. Ensuring that your employees have a positive and engaging starting experience is important to making sure your recruiting process is going well.

2. Highlight the benefits

Nowadays perks and benefits are the icings on the cake when you are attracting applicants. Whether you offer a competitive salary, hybrid working models or wellness programmes make sure to outline benefits that are suitable for everyone. Having the right benefits in the workplace can improve employee engagement.

3. Promote Flexible/ Hybrid working

Realistically the traditional office 9-to-5, five days a week is becoming a bit old fashioned and not appropriate for most people’s lifestyles. By incorporating flexible working schedules and telecommuting you may find that employees appear more productive and satisfied. It is important to detail flexible/hybrid working arrangements in the employee contracts, so no conflict arises. Bright Contracts now has a hybrid working policy in the handbook section of the software as well as a hybrid tick the box section in the contract section. A sample document detailing the hybrid arrangements is available on the Bright Contracts Ireland website.

4. Recognition

Every employee likes to be appreciated and thanked for all their hard work. Giving employees recognition for a job well done is an important part of ensuring that there is continued employee engagement. Ways of recognising employees could be appreciation at company meetings, giving out regular promotions or employee appreciation events.

5. Highlight Development

Ensure you allow your employees to further enhance their skills to become even better employees. By you supporting employee development will lead to the best employees sticking around.

6. Reward Employees

As well as offering salary incentives why not add other reward programmes to help retain employees. Rewards like offering gift cards, bonuses and additional annual leave will not only attract employees to the company but help retain employees.

7. Provide up to date equipment and software

A huge complaint at many companies is how outdated the equipment and software is within an organisation. Not only does this make employees inefficient but it also indicates that your company does not have any interest in staying up to date with the latest tools and technology.

8. Communication

There is nothing more frustrating than a company with bad communication with its employees. Make sure your company is creating channels for honest and specific feedback to and from employees. Try to focus on direct communication, one-on-one conversations when it is possible. Furthermore, provide employees with digital spaces to allow workers to come together and solve issues without having to go through management.

9. Familiarity with Senior Management

Making sure senior management know that an employee exists will help make employees feel acknowledged and results in employees being loyal and committed to the job. One of the most common complaints voiced during an exit interview is that employees do not feel acknowledged by senior management. The employee should be introduced to senior management on their first day and employees should have the chance to partake in company discussions and have their ideas listened to.

10. Allow the employee to use their talents and skills

A motivated employee wants to contribute work to areas outside of their job description. You should allow your employees to use experiences from the past to their current role to result in an overall positive employee engagement. For example, if an employee has a skill in video editing and they work in the marketing department, allowing them help or have input in the production of a company video, will overall have a positive impact on their role in the company.

 

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Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

10
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What you Need to Know About the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act was signed into law on the 13th of July 2021. It will amend the Employment Equality Act 1998. This legislation introduced gender pay gap reporting to Ireland. The technical elements to this Bill have not been published yet but, The Act promotes the making of regulations through which reporting requirements will be specified. It is unclear what the specific reporting responsibilities for employers will be.

What is it?

The Gender Pay Gap is the difference in the average gross hourly pay of women compared with men in an organisation. It should not be confused with the concept of equal pay for equal work. The existence of the gender pay gap does not indicate discrimination by employers or that women are not receiving equal pay for equal work. Employers are required to pay employees on the same terms when they do “like work” which is defined as work that is the same, similar, or work of equal value.

What does the employer have to do?

The Act will require organisations to report on the gender pay differences between male and female employees. For the initial first two years of The Act, it will only apply to employers with 250 or more employees.

What information needs to be reported?

  • Mean and median hourly remuneration for full time and part time employees
  • Mean and median bonus remuneration
  • Percentage of all employees who have received a bonus or benefits in kind.

The act also indicates further regulations that may be proposed to provide further clarity on:

  • The class of employer, employee and pay to which the regulations apply
  • How the remuneration of employees is to be calculated
  • The form, manner and frequency in which information is to be published

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

10
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Don't Get Caught Out: The 5 Core Terms

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

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

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

Written Statement of Terms of Employment

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

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

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

1. Full names of the employer and the employee

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Terms to Include in the Written Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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