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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

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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New Legislation is Being Brought to Cabinet this Week

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Posted in Employment Law, Hybrid Working

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

28
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What You Need to Know About Staff Handbooks

The most essential document governing the employment relationship is the contract of employment. If you don’t want your employment contract to be too long and untidy you should be referring to your staff handbook when talking about grievances, discipline, dignity at work, anti-bullying, and other workplace policies.

Staff handbooks should be easy to read, and a copy should be easily available to all employees. New employees must read the handbook and indicate that they have done so by giving their signature. It is important to review and amend the policies regularly to ensure any changes in the law or best practices are reflected.

Most important policies and procedures in the workplace

In Ireland, the most important policies, and procedures to have in place are those covering

  1. Grievances
  2. Discipline
  3. Dignity at work (anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and equal opportunity)
  4. Health and Safety

Other topics that should be considered are, sick leave, holiday leave & pay, hours of work, internet and email usage, dress code, expenses procedure retirement and pension benefits etc.

Bright Contracts

With Bright Contracts, we provide ready-made handbooks that fully conforms to the latest employment law guidelines. The software allows you to add additional sections to handbooks, edit, delete or reorganise the built-in- content and you can easily add your own. You can preview your handbook at any time while you build it and print or export it when it is ready. It’s great as you need no employment law knowledge, we do all the hard work.

 

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Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Staff Handbook

23
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Dismiss an Employee

Unfortunately, as an employer or business owner, you need to know how to dismiss an employee. No matter what the reason is there is a process that you should always adhere to.

The most important thing to consider is the reason for the termination and if you have taken any steps to try and assist your employee. If you are dealing with an underperforming employee, you shouldn’t automatically think of dismissing them. You should instead understand why the employee is underperforming and assist them in any way to help them improve.

Investigate the situation

The first thing that needs to be done if you are considering dismissing an employee is to formally investigate the situation. Be sure that the documentation clearly outlines the initial complaint or disciplinary issue with the employee as well as the relevant details of the investigation itself. A full list of participants, including what was said in any of the interviews.

After completing the investigation, you may discover the complaints or performance issues that were raised in the interviews were a misunderstanding, a false allegation or not a fault of the employee in question. In most cases, the situation can be resolved with a conversation.

Provide a warning

If after investigating and you conclude that the employee is at fault, you will need to provide them with an official warning. Where the complaint is minor or does not require further action no other disciplinary action needs to be taken.

For more serious incidents, make sure that the employee understands that you are giving them a warning and what the next steps will be if they fail to improve.

Be Professional

If you have conducted your investigations, issued a warning, and have proof of the breach of contract, then you have no option left but to dismiss your employee. For the protection of the company, it is vital that you have the right reasons and supporting evidence for the dismissal. When it comes to delivering the news, you must do this face to face with the employee.

You should adhere to the following points:

  • Be prepared, and calmly explain the reasons for the dismissal
  • Reiterate the previous warning that has been given and refer to the documentation
  • Ensure that the process is short and does not linger for longer than necessary

For legal reasons, you should document and issue the dismissal in written format.

Honour existing agreements

Just because the employee has left does not mean that you can ignore any post dismissal laws that are in place. You must continue to follow both the company policy and legal protocols, including the payments for all hours worked up until the moment of dismissal. If you are required to give your employee two weeks’ notice you may dismiss them immediately, but you will need to provide them with the equivalent of two weeks’ pay.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employment Law

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

31
Jan 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

What you Need to Know About Irelands New Public Holiday

What is it and when will it happen?


The Government announced last week that there will be a once off extra public holiday on Friday the 18th of March 2022. It was introduced to recognise the efforts made by the general public, volunteers and all workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. This will result in a four-day weekend in the middle of March as St Patricks Day is also a public holiday.


Next Year, 2023, there will be a permanent public holiday introduced to establish the celebration of St Brigid’s Day. This will occur on the first Monday in February. If St Brigid’s Day falls on the first day of February, that happens to be a Friday, that Friday the 1st of February will be a Public Holiday.

This new public holiday will bring the number of public holidays in Ireland to 10, which is one of the lowest in Europe, compared to Austria and Sweden which have 13.


What does this mean for employers?

This announcement can bring cost implications for employers. Employees are entitled to a paid day off. If the employee is working that day, they are entitled to double pay or an additional day of paid leave.

 

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

 

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Pay/Wage, Wages

25
Jan 22

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Nation Rejoices: The Removal of COVID-19 Restrictions & The Return to the Workplace

Ireland rejoiced as it was announced over the weekend that most of the public health measures currently in place can be removed giving the Irish a sense of normalcy again, something we have all been waiting a long time for. However, this news will have also been met with many questions by the business community, particularly around how to effectively manage a safe, gradual return to the workplace.

The government confirmed that the transition to office working could commence with immediate effect from yesterday, Monday the 24th of January which is amazing news for all but it is strongly encouraged that employers engage with employees to plan, prepare and engage with their staff to put into motion that return in the coming weeks.

The return of employees to the office is very much a measured response, taking into account business needs as well as the needs of the employee. The experiment of working from home has been a success over the past two years therefore the we see it that there must be very justified reasons for a business to require staff to work in the office five days of the week. 

The return to office working must be considered in line with obligations under existing Safety, Health and Welfare legislation to provide a safe place of work. Organisations COVID-19 response plans will naturally need be edited to take into account these new measures and it is hoped that the revised guidance document will be finalised and published in the coming days. Once published our Bright Contracts software will be updated to reflect these changes.

While the lifting of restrictions is great news for all it is still important to bear in mind that the government still continue to reiterate the need for ongoing close monitoring of the virus. The pandemic is not over and the emergence of new variants with increased levels of transmissibility remains a risk both nationally and globally so businesses are encouraged to still keep this at the forefront of their office plans.

While the restrictions have been lifted, it is advised that employers develop plans for their return to work and continue the use of Covid-19 control measures:

  • Employers should re-examine the potential risks and hazards and update business and safety plans. (e.g. Covid-19 Response Plan, the occupational health and safety through risk assessments and the safety statement). 
  • The Health and Safety Authority’s website contains resources for employers including the Pre-return to work form, and Employer checklists.
  • Implement control measures and comply with the HSE’s and Government’s protocol/guidance. This includes appointing at least one lead worker representative to ensure safety measures are in place and being adhered to. Access a Health Safety Authority online course on the role of lead worker representative.
  • Develop, consult on, communicate and implement workplace changes or policies. 
  • Continue to follow the current advice for those with symptoms, cases and close contacts as announced by the government on the 12th of January 2022.
  • Continue to focus on maximising the uptake of the primary and booster vaccination.

Further changes coming down the line for businesses is this year, Leo Varadkar will bring in five new workers’ rights, which will include the right to request remote working. The others will be the right to statutory sick pay, new rights around redundancy for people who are laid off during the pandemic, a new right on the protection of workers’ tips and the new public holiday on St Brigid’s Day which was announced last week. These will be in addition to the previously introduced Right to Disconnect.

Today, Leo Varadkar provided some guidance into the specifics of The Right to Request Remote Working which we have summarised below for you:

  • The employee must have at least 6 months service in order to submit a request.
  • The employer will have 12 weeks to reply to the employees request.
  • The employer can counter offer the employees request which the employee will have one month to accept or refuse.
  • Right of appeal will apply to this strategy which will either be dealt with internally or through The WRC.
  • Employees can submit another request after 12 weeks.
  • A requirement of this strategy will be that all employers MUST have a Work From Home (WFH) Policy in place

Bright Contracts already has a WFH policy in the handbook of the software which can be found under the 'Terms & Conditions' tab. Further guidance in relation to The Right To Request Home Working is expected over the coming months which we will then communicate to our customers.

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Helpful Articles/ Documents:

- Role of a Lead Worker Representative

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

18
Jan 22

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Get Informed About Wage Deductions

There can often be debates between the employer and the employee as to what can be legally deducted from an employee’s wages. Well the confusion is over because in this blog post we have detailed for you what are the legal deductions employers can make, including the special restrictions on employers in relation to any act or omission of the employee. Firstly, under the Payment of Wages Act 1991, the employee has a right to:

1. A negotiable mode of wage payment
2. A written statement of wages and deductions, i.e. a payslip
3. Protection from unlawful deductions from wages

The Act applies to employees engaged under a contract of employment or apprenticeship, employed through an employment agency or through a subcontractor or working for the State.
There are only 3 circumstances in which an employer may legally make deductions from an employee’s wages or receive any payments from an employee. These are:

1. If the deduction or payment is required or authorised by law, for example, income tax, PRSI, USC, local property tax (LPT), additional superannuation contribution (ASC), an attachment of earnings order (AEO) or a notice of attachment.

2. If the deduction or payment is provided for in the contract of employment, for example, employee pension contributions, deductions for uniforms etc.

3. If the deduction is agreed to in writing, in advance, by the employee, for example, medical insurance subscriptions, trade union dues.

There are however special restrictions placed on employers in relation to deductions or the receipt of payments from wages, which arise from any act or omission of the employee (e.g. till shortages, bad workmanship, breakages), or are in respect of the supply to the employee by the employer of goods or services which are necessary to the employment (e.g. the provision or cleaning of uniforms). Any deduction or payment from wages of the kinds described must satisfy the following conditions:

i. the deduction or payment must be provided for in the contract of employment
ii. the amount of the deduction, or payment, must be fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances including the amount of the wages of the employee .e. if it is substantial it should not be taken out of one single wage payment.
iii. Prior to the act or omission occurring, the employee must have previously been given written details of the terms of the contract of employment, governing deductions or payments, by the employer.

Written notice must be given to the employee in the case of each deduction or payment to the employer at least one week prior to the deduction being made and the employer must provide a receipt. The deduction cannot take place more than six months after the employee’s act or omission becomes known to the employer or after the provision of good and services to the employee. However, where a series of deductions are to be made, the first deduction must be made within six months. Most importantly, the deduction or payment cannot be more than the cost to the employer, in other words, the employer should not profit from the deductions.

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Posted in Employment Contract, Employment Law, Pay/Wage, Wages

7
Jan 22

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

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

The Workplace Relations Commission, or as they are more commonly referred to, the WRC, are a body which companies discuss in hushed tones as we associate them with discrimination cases but do we all know exactly WHO they are and WHAT they do besides being the deciding body on employment law cases? I don’t think many of us are sure, which is why our blog post will dive into the WHO?WHAT?WHERE? and WHY? Of The WRC.

Established on the 1st of October 2015, The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent, statutory body which is Irish government-operated, which decides cases of alleged discrimination under Irish equality legislation. It was established under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 which reforms the State’s employment rights and industrial relations structures to deliver a better service for employers and employees.

Previously there were 5 separate bodies which dealt with complaints and disputes relating to industrial relations, employment law and employment equality but under the new system there are now 2 statutory bodies, namely The Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. The Commission has a board consisting of a chairperson and 8 ordinary members appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The WRC provides information on employment law, equality and industrial relations to employees, employers and representative bodies of employees and employers. The function of the WRC is to provide advisory and conciliation services. Upon request, the Advisory Service engages with employers, employees and their representatives to help them to develop effective industrial relations practices, procedures and structures. This assistance could include reviewing or developing effective workplace procedures in areas such as grievance, discipline, communications and consultation.

Conciliation is a voluntary process where the parties to a dispute agree to avail of a neutral and impartial third party who will assist them in resolving their industrial relations differences. How the WRC assists in this situation is they will provide an Industrial Relations Officer to chair negotiations with the view of steering the discussions and exploring possible solutions in a non-prejudicial fashion. Solutions are reached only by consensus, hence the outcome is voluntary.

WRC inspectors visit workplaces and carry out inspections of employer’s records to ensure compliance with employment and equality legislation. An inspection may arise as a result of a complaint being received of alleged non-compliance, a campaign focussing on a specific sector or a particular piece of legislation, or it may simply be a routine inspection. Where breaches of legislation have been found, the inspector may, depending on the legislation involved, issue either a compliance notice or a fixed payment notice to the employer.

The WRC also has responsibility for:

• promoting the improvement of workplace relations, and maintenance of good workplace relations,
• promoting and encouraging compliance with relevant enactments,
• providing guidance in relation to compliance with codes of practice approved under Section 20 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015,
• conducting reviews of, and monitor developments as respects, workplace relations,

• conducting or commissioning research into matters pertaining to workplace relations,
• providing advice, information and the findings of research conducted by the Commission to joint labour committees and joint industrial councils,
• advising and apprising the Minister in relation to the application of, and compliance with, relevant enactments, and
• providing information to members of the public in relation to employment

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