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9
Sep 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Termination of Employment

An employer must have a reason to dismiss an employee. Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2015, the dismissal of an employee is deemed not to be unfair if it is for reasons of capability, conduct, capacity, redundancy, contravening the law, or some other substantial reason.

Giving Notice

At a minimum, employers must give employees the following statutory periods of notice.

Duration of employment Minimum notice

  • 13 weeks to 2 years -1 week
  • 2 to 5 years -2 weeks
  • 5 to 10 years -4 weeks
  • 10 to 15 years-6 weeks
  • 15 years or more -8 weeks

If the employee’s contract of employment provides for notice in excess of the statutory period, the contractual notice must be given.

An employer may dismiss an employee without notice for gross misconduct e.g assault, stealing or serious breach of employment policies. Employment contracts or handbooks may contain further examples of gross misconduct.

Termination Procedures

The Workplace Relations Commission has introduced a Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures which employers should follow when dismissing an employee. Disciplinary action may include:

  • An oral warning
  • A written warning
  • A final written warning
  • Suspension without pay
  • Transfer to another task, or section of the enterprise
  • Demotion
  • Some other appropriate disciplinary action short of dismissal
  • Dismissal

You can read more about Unfair Dismissal in our previous blog post, Unfair Dismissal Claims & How to Avoid Them

Bright Contracts Software has a “Resignation and Termination” policy in the “Terms and Conditions” section of the handbook. Furthermore, in the Company Policies and Procedures section, there is a Grievance/Dispute Procedures which you can edit to your company needs.

Posted in Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

19
Aug 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Effective Absence Management

One of your employees calling in sick or saying they can’t make it into work but not giving a reason as to why can be frustrating and disruptive.

The best thing to do to manage this is to have an absence policy in place. The policy should outline how sickness-related-absences will be dealt with and should specify what period of time forms:

• Short-term absence
• Long-term absence
• Unauthorized absence

Your absence policy should be shared with your employees. Doing this will ensure that employees know how each instance of absence will be handled and what procedure will be followed.

Furthermore, having an absence policy in place will ensure consistency.

How to reduce sickness absence in the workplace

Return to work interview
One of the easiest ways to reduce sickness absence is to conduct a return to work interview. This conversation will bring to light any issues an employee has, whether it’s personal work or work-related. It could mean that you alter their working hours, allow them to work from home, or take time off for medical appointments.

Record Keeping

Record keeping is another useful practice. Tracking employee absences can be very beneficial to see what patterns may appear with the absence of an employee. For example, does one of your employees always miss the Friday of a Bank Holiday? Or say they’re unwell the Monday they’re due in after a week off?

Monitoring absences will make these patterns easier to spot and gives you proof if you need to speak to the employee.

Communication

Whether it’s a short or long-term absence, it’s important that you reach out to the absent individual. You can do so by phone, email, and in some cases, a home visit. Reaching out, it will give you an insight into their illness and how long they think they will be absent. It will also help you prepare for their return.

Dismissal due to sickness absence

In extreme cases, such as long-term sickness, dismissal for absence may be considered.
If you decided to go down the dismissal route, you’ll need to show that the procedure used was fair and reasonable. Failure to follow fair procedures may leave your company open to a claim for unfair dismissal.

Bright Contracts Handbook contains an absence policy in the “Terms & Conditions” section of the handbook.

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Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Sick Leave/Absence Management

29
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

New Worker’s rights passed by the Oireachtas

Over the last few weeks, The Oireachtas has approved two new workers’ rights: sick pay and tip protection. Both of these will have a significant impact on millions of workers nationwide.

Sick Pay for eligible employees

As discussed in a previous blog post: Preparing for New Sick Pay Rules. The Sick Leave Bill 2022 has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. This gives eligible employees in Ireland the right to paid sick leave. Employers will pay sick pay at a rate of 70% of an employee's wage, up to a daily maximum of €110.

To receive statutory sick pay, an employee must obtain a medical certificate and have worked for their employer for a minimum of 13 weeks. Employees who require further time off after their employer’s entitlement to sick pay expires may be eligible for illness benefits from the Department of Social Protection, subject to PRSI contributions. The Bill has now been signed into law by the president. 

The Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Bill

In addition to passing the Sick Leave Bill 2022, the Oireachtas passed new legislation to ensure those working in the hospitality industry receive their fair share of tips and gratuities. This will clarify the definitions of required charges, service charges, tips, and gratuities. In addition, it will exclude tips and gratuities from a worker’s contractual wages, and oblige employers to distribute tips received electronically, fairly, equitably, and in a transparent manner. It will also ensure that any charge referred to as a ‘service charge’ is distributed to employees in the same way as tips received.

Employers should begin reviewing their sick leave policies to ensure that they comply with the upcoming statutory sick leave scheme. Employers in relevant industries should also review their policies and procedures for managing tips, gratuities, and service charges to ensure they are in line with the changes in the law.

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Sick Leave/Absence Management

25
Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Prepare an Anti-Bullying Policy

Prevention is the best way to avoid the risk of bullying at work. The purpose of an effective policy is not simply to prevent improper conduct and behaviour but also to encourage best practices and a safe and harmless workplace where such behaviour is unlikely to occur.

Employers should adopt, monitor, and implement an effective and accessible policy on bullying in the workplace.

Preparing the Policy

The policy and complaints procedure should be adopted, where appropriate. Simple direct language should be used in the policy. Information given to employees should be in a form, manner and in an appropriate language that is likely to be understood by the employees concerned.

The policy should be written, dated, and signed by a responsible person in senior management and updated when appropriate.

Scope of the Policy

The policy should:

  • Describe what is meant by bullying at work
  • Include a non-exhaustive list of examples of bullying behaviour relevant to the employment
  • Given the name or job title of the person who may be approached by a person wishing to complain of bullying at work
  • State that the protection extends to bullying at work by management, fellow employees, subordinates, clients, customers, and other business contacts as well as work-related social events
  • State that all complaints of bullying will be taken seriously and will be followed through to resolution and that employees who make a complaint will not be victimised.

Allocation of Responsibilities in Prevention of Bullying at Work

The policy should state that management, others in the position of authority, and workplace representatives have a particular responsibility to ensure that bullying at work does not occur and that complaints are addressed promptly.

The policy should state that, management will:

  • Provide a good example by treating all people in the workplace with respect
  • Promote awareness of the policy and complaints procedures
  • Be vigilant for signs of bullying at work through observation and through seeking employee feedback and take action before a problem escalates
  • Deal sensitively with employees involved in a bullying complaint
  • Explain the procedures to be followed if a complaint of bullying at work is made
  • Ensure that an employee making a complaint is not victimised for doing so
  • Monitor and follow up on the situation after a complaint is made so that the bullying at work does not reoccur.

Bright Contracts has a preformatted Anti-Bullying Policy under the ‘Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure' section of the Handbook in the software, which is fully compliant with current employment laws.

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

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.

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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.

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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

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

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.

 

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

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

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

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