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20
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Employer & Maternity Leave

The main provision of the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 is to provide for 26 weeks' maternity leave with protection of employment for female employees. In addition, an employee is entitled to further leave, known as additional maternity leave, up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

Since the 1st of October 2017, female employees are entitled to extend their maternity leave beyond 26 weeks where the baby is born more than 2 weeks before the expected week of confinement. In the event of a multiple birth, an employee is still only entitled to the 26 weeks maternity leave (or any extended leave due to a premature birth) and 16 weeks additional maternity leave.

The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 also provide for:

- Leave on health & safety grounds if the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 to 2014 require it.

- Leave of an employed father from his employment, on the death of the mother during her maternity leave.

The Acts cover all female employees (and male employees after the death of the mother following birth) from the first day of their employment and that includes apprentices, agency temps, officers or servants of a local authority and all civil servants.

Since the 1st of October 2017, female employees are entitled to extend their maternity leave beyond 26 weeks where the baby is born more than 2 weeks before the expected week of confinement – the due date to put it more simply. The amount of extended leave will be equivalent to the duration of the premature birth period. The premature birth period means a period which commences on the actual date the child was due to be born and expires 2 weeks before the end of the expected week of birth.

For example: If the baby is born 2 weeks early, then the employee will be entitled to 26 weeks consecutive maternity leave PLUS the extension to her maternity leave by the premature birth period which is 28 weeks.

Some common questions in relation to maternity leave include:

When must an employee commence maternity leave?

An employee is required to take pre-confinement maternity leave of a minimum of 2 weeks and a maximum of 22 weeks before the end of the week in which the baby is due meaning the employee must have a minimum of 4 weeks maternity leave remaining after the birth of the baby.

How must an employee notify their employer of their intention to take maternity leave?
The employee must notify their employer at least 4 weeks before the commencement of maternity leave, which must state the date on which the leave is due to commence AND produce a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy and the expected week of birth.

When does additional maternity leave commence?
It must commence immediately after the 26 weeks maternity leave or any extended leave due to a premature birth except where the mother avails of any transferred paternity leave which must be taken before the commencement of the 16 weeks additional maternity leave.

Does an employee accrue annual leave whilst on maternity leave?
Yes!The employee is treated as being in employment while on maternity leave or additional maternity leave. This means they continue to accrue annual leave. They are also entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur during their maternity leave (including additional maternity leave).

What are an employee's rights on Fixed-Term Contracts?
Women employed under fixed-term contracts may not be entitled to the full period of maternity leave or additional maternity leave if their contract ends while they are still on maternity leave, as their maternity/additional maternity leave will also end on the same day. The expiry of an employee’s contract of employment during maternity leave will not affect her entitlement to Maternity Benefit.

When an employee goes son maternity leave it is vitally important that the employer doesn't fall out of touch with the employee and also to keep them informed about any business news, for example, any changes in management and staff, particularly in their own team.

And lastly don’t assume the employee on maternity leave cannot attend social events. Attending a work social event might provide some very welcome relief and be a good way of catching up (both from the employee’s and the employer’s perspective).

Bright Contracts' handbook includes each family related leave policy including Maternity leave under the 'Leave & Benefits' section of the handbook. If you'd like to download a trial of our software to preview these sections click here.

Related Articles:

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Changes under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021

Posted in Company handbook, Employment Law

14
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Budget 2022: What You Need to Know

The 2022 budget was released this week which aims to explain how money will be raised and spent in 2022. The budget saw some important changes across a variety of sectors with some important ones for employers to know which is why we have summarised them for you below so you don't miss out!

  • The National Minimum Wage

The NMW will rise by 30 cent to €10.50 per hour

  • Family

Maternity benefit and parental leave payments to be increased
Parent's Benefit extended by 2 weeks to 7 weeks from July next year

  • Covid Supports

The employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place, in a graduated format, until 30 April, 2022 - the scheme will close to new employers from 1 January, 2022

  • Working from Home & Income Tax

People who work remotely will see an income tax deduction of 30% of the cost of vouched expenses for heat, electricity and broadband. In his Budget speech, the Minister for Finance said Government policy is to facilitate and support remote work. 

If you would like to read some more detailed information and analysis, or even read the Ministers’ Budget day speeches to the Dáil, visit http://gov.ie/budget to find out more.

Related Articles:

Key Features: Updates to the Work Safely Protocol

The Essential Elements of a Hybrid Working Policy

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

11
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

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

Ensuring you are fully compliant with Irish employment law is a must when looking at ending an employees employment whether it be by termination or retirement. The following case is an example as to how not taking the right steps can lead to a huge cost for the employer.

The Case: Senior Staff Nurse Vs Nursing Home

The Complainant was employed as a senior staff nurse from the 10th May 2014 until the date of her compulsory retirement on the 28th October 2019, by the Respondent, a nursing home in liquidation. She received remuneration of approximately €5,883 per month gross. The Complainant sought an award of compensation in respect of discrimination suffered, loss of almost a year’s work and loss of redundancy payments before the Respondent closed and went into liquidation.

The Complainant was initially provided with a “Relief Panel Fixed Term Contract” requiring her to work ‘as required and when the need arises, varied hours up to 39 hours of a standard 39 hour week’. This included a retirement clause stating ‘Retirement age is 65 years. Employment beyond retirement age is exceptional and only by agreement of the employer.’ There were no further renewals of this contract, and it therefore effectively became a contract of indefinite duration. The Complainant was granted a one-year extension on her compulsory retirement, setting her new retirement date as the 31st of October 2019.

In July 2019, the Complainant entered discussions with Ms. A, who was the Clinical Nurse Manager and the Complainant’s line manager in regards to continuing her employment following the 31st of October 2019. Here, Ms, A. indicated her support for this and told the Complainant to apply for an extension in writing which she did, she did not receive a response. In absence of a response, the Complainant went straight to the Director of Nursing, Mr. B where he informed her that this would not be possible and that they would only have work for her until the end of October 2019. He also informed her verbally that there was a plan to recruit non-EEA national nurses to fill positions with the Respondent. Non-EEA national work visas can only be applied for by employers when no suitable EEA nationals were available to work in the same occupational category. The Complainant asserts that the Respondent did not offer any rationale or objective justification for their decision to terminate her employment.

On 25th October 2019, the Complainant received her final communication from Mr. B confirming that her last working day would be 28th October 2019. Non-EEA nurses were recruited in November 2019 and took over the Complainant’s duties. The Respondent operated for a further eleven months and was then subject to High Court Winding-Up Proceedings on the ground of insolvency. Some staff were redeployed nearby, others received statutory redundancy and approximately €3,000 ex gratia payment which the Complainant had been denied. She had received an excellent reference from Ms. A, which the Complainant asserts proves that she was dismissed based purely on age. The complaint was referred to the WRC on 28th February 2020 where noo evidence was provided in rebuttal of the complaint that the Respondent had acted unlawfully and in breach of the Employment Equality Acts on the ground of age.

Decision: The Adjudicator found that the only basis for the Complainant’s compulsory retirement was her date of birth, and that at the time she was provided with the Fixed Term Contract in 2018 upon her reaching the age of 65, no objective justification was given either verbally or in writing. The Adjudicator was satisfied that there was sufficient work available that the Complainant was fully capable of undertaking. The Respondent was ordered to pay the Complainant €85,000, being 2 years’ remuneration, in compensation for breaches of the Employment Equality Acts. 

The takeaway of this case for employers is they should note that compulsory retirement must have an express valid reasoning and justification behind it, and that it is not exempt from being construed as discrimination on the basis of age.

Related Articles:

Retirement in the Workplace: Is it enforceable?

Posted in Contract of employment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employment Law

1
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Introducing Contracts & Handbooks to Existing Staff

Introducing a contract of employment or a handbook for the first time to current employees, can be a difficult, tricky matter. Employees may view the new documentation as an intrusion, representing a new set of rules and regulations that threaten to make their lives uncomfortable. However, this does not have to be the case, you can introduce new documentation without alienating your work force. The answer lies in good communication and clear and concise documentation.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to introducing your new Bright Contract’s employee documentation to existing employees.

1. Hold an Initial Group Meeting

The purpose of this meeting will be to:

  • Notify employees of the introduction of the new contracts of employment and staff handbook.
  • Explain why they are being introduced.
  • Give a brief overview of what is contained in both documents:
    • Contract of Employment: confirms the employee’s basic terms and conditions and is fully compliant with the Terms of Employment Act
    • Staff Handbook: gives a brief overview of the type of policy that is contained in the Handbook, for example you may wish to highlight a Dress Code policy

If you are a small company, hold a company-wide meeting, inviting everyone. If your employee numbers mean this is not feasible, hold department or team meetings, ideally meeting with all affected staff on the same day to ensure a consistent message is being delivered to all staff thus preventing any misunderstanding, or false narratives starting. For any employees who are not present for the meeting ensure to debrief them as soon as possible.

At the Meeting

Ensure Top Management are Involved
It is extremely important that senior management are actively involved in introducing the new documentation to show this is a company-wide initiative, supported at the highest level.

Explain Why you are Introducing the Documentation
Give clear reasons why the business is implementing the documentation, for example:

  • We want to promote a culture of consistency and fairness in our company, where everyone knows the protocols and knows what is expected of them and what they can expect from the Company. 
  • We want to ensure we are fully compliant with employment law legislation

Emphasis the Value to the Employee
Explain to employees that they have legal rights and that the policies set out in the handbook demonstrate that the company is complying with the law and honouring their rights.

Promote the handbook as a point of reference for employees for confirmation on how a particular issue will be dealt with e.g. probation, disciplinary procedure etc.

2. Distribute the Documentation

Contracts of Employment

The Contract of Employment is a confidential document between the employer and the employee therefore all communications regarding the contract of employment are to be kept confidential. Therefore we suggest the following:

  • Issue 2 copies of the contract of employment to the employee in a sealed envelope
  • Give the employee a timeframe to read, review and sign the contract

The Staff Handbook

Following the meeting the Staff Handbook should be made available to all employees. Possible ways to do this can include:

  • Print and give each employee a hardcopy of the handbook
  • Print a number of handbooks and place them in communal locations in the place of work, e.g. the staff room
  • Email the handbook to each employee
  • Save and store the handbook in a communal location on your local drive, where it is easily accessible by all

Give staff a timeframe, e.g. 2 weeks, to read the handbook and formulate any questions they might have.

Both the staff handbook and contract of employment in Bright Contracts are available to be printed and exported as a PDF for distribution.

3: Be Prepared to Take Questions

Employees are likely to have questions, be prepared and open to answer any questions or clarify any points that employees might have. Keep open honest communications, listen to the employee’s comments, they may raise some valid issues that need to be addressed. Or employees may simply need clarification on a particular term. (The information snippets on your Bright Contracts program may help you address some employee concerns.)

Once you have had the initial staff/team meeting, it is not necessary to have further team meetings. Conversations at this point tend to be personalised, it is therefore recommended that queries are discussed individual and privately with each employee.

4: Collect Signed Documentation

Employees should sign both copies of the contract of employment, returning one to you and keeping a copy for themselves. Once the signed contract is returned, it should be placed on the personal file for future reference.

If the terms and conditions of employment (e.g. pay, hours etc.) have remained unchanged it is not essential to seek signed agreement from existing employees, however it would always be preferable. If an employee refuses to sign a contract after open discussions and no changes to the basic terms have been put forward, make a record on their file that they were given the contract and were given opportunity to discuss and fully understand the contracts, include dates and evidence of the communications.

If the terms and conditions of employment are being changed then it is important for employers to seek agreement from the employee before implementing any change. In this situation the employer should receive a signed copy of the revised contract.

There is no requirement to reach agreement with the employee on the Staff Handbook, however it can be useful to ask employees to sign to confirm that they have received and reviewed the handbook.

Related Articles:

Hybrid Working: Know The Basics

The Link Between Hybrid Working & Employee Engagement

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

15
Jul 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Hybrid Working: Know The Basics

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has completely shifted the way we work and live. Companies have had to quickly adopt new initiatives and technologies to ensure employee safety whilst maintaining productivity. Working from home has now become the normality for many of us and adapting to these new ways of working is essential for business continuity which is why we have approached this blog post as a FAQ of hybrid working.

  • What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working, also referred to as blended working, is where employees divide their time between working from home and attending the workplace. For example, the arrangement possibly will involve an employee working from home two or three days a week and attending the workplace on the remaining days.
Alternatively, hybrid-working could involve building increased flexibility into the employee's working location so that each day they choose where they work, sometimes going in to a workplace and sometimes working remotely depending on their circumstances and the needs of the business.

  • Is there a standard hybrid working model?

There is no standard one-size fits all hybrid working model. What is going to work best for your organisation will depend on the nature of your business and your needs as an employer. There are a few potential variations to hybrid working to consider. For example, you need to consider whether you are going to require employees to attend a specific workplace location on a set number of days per week, or whether your business allows it’s employees to be more flexible and adopt a "work wherever is best for you to do your job" model.

There is also the matter of whether you are going to require everyone to move to hybrid working or whether it will simply be an option for employees who want to work this way with workspaces available for those who need them. In addition, you may decide that hybrid working is suitable only for particular roles within your organisation.

  • What positions are eligible for a Hybrid Work Arrangement?

Deciding on which positions are eligible for remote working are based on operational and business needs and must be made without bias or favoritism to ensure a fair process. Department leaders should first consider the departments objectives, working hours and consider each staff member’s duties to determine if that position can be done effectively with a Hybrid Work Arrangement. Not all positions and staff will be eligible for hybrid working.

  • Who has the authority to approve Hybrid Work Arrangements?

Hybrid Work Arrangements are agreed at the discretion of the organisation and the employee’s direct supervisor/manager. Supervisors/managers have the authority to approve Hybrid Work Arrangements after consulting with their Department Head.

  • Under what criteria can a Hybrid Work Arrangement request be denied?

The denial of a hybrid working request should be based on legitimate business rationale such as operational need/changes, staffing need/changes, or documented performance issues.

  • What if someone disagrees about their position’s eligibility for or denial of remote work?

If a request is denied, or an employee does not agree with the terms of their Hybrid Work Arrangement, managers should attempt to resolve the matter informally with the employee. If needed, managers should consult with their supervisor or division leader in addition to Human Resources. If an informal resolution cannot be reached, managers should inform the employee in writing that the employee may be able to file a complaint in accordance with the employee’s applicable complaint process detailed in the company handbook.

Coming Soon: Bright Contracts will be updating the software shortly to include a Hybrid Working policy as well as other useful documentation, announcements will be made once these become available.

To ensure you have access to the complete hybrid working content ensure you have purchased a Bright Contracts licence.

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

23
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Let's Get Topical - The Vaccine Policy

The Vaccine. . . a major topical area and again one that information about is changing by the day. Instead of overloading you with paragraph upon paragraph of text, we thought we’d approach this section as a Q&A which covers all questions you may have about the vaccine policy. 

The first question is - Can you insist that an employee be tested? 

In the absence of a legal requirement for employees to take a test, no individual can lawfully be forced to take one, as such an action could be considered assault given the physical element of taking a test.

Employees who have no symptoms should only be asked to take a test on a voluntary basis. Employees who have no symptoms and are not a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case may query the legal basis of being required to take a covid test before entering the workplace. In this scenario, the purpose of the test should be explained to the employee and if the employee continues to refuse the test, employers need to tread very carefully to avoid employee relations issues. 

Moving onto question 2 - Can you ask an employee if they have been vaccinated? 

While employees are not obliged to provide personal medical information, employers may seek vaccination information on the foundation that they are meeting their legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts. It will be up to the employee if they wish to volunteer this information to their employer. If they choose to volunteer this information, then employers should not disclose this information to other employees. As medical data is considered as a Special Category of Personal data, additional data protection regulation apply and must considered. 

Lastly, question 3 - Can you insist that an employee be vaccinated? 

Currently vaccinations are recommended by Irish authorities, but not compulsory for any Irish citizen. Even with the role out of the Covid vaccination amongst medical workers who are employees of the HSE, for these employees the vaccine was not mandatory. With this in mind, it is likely to be very difficult for an employer to argue and defend a case that vaccination is compulsory in a workplace. There is little an employer can do if their employee refuses to get the vaccine however, understanding their concerns is important and finding solutions that meet the business needs without infringing on their rights is crucial in managing their integration into the workplace. Employers need to think carefully about any action they take and consider the potential legal consequences associated with these actions.

If you are an employer, now you are most likely thinking, 'What can I do about the vaccine and my workplace?'. The answer is simple, employees cannot be forced to avail of the vaccine however it is vitally important that employers promote that their employees take a vaccine. The best way to take a proactive stance here is to roll out a vaccine policy. We would advise doing this now to help prepare employees. In creating a vaccine policy you’ll want to consider : 

1. Providing your workforce with a list of resources where they can obtain further information about the vaccination programme, for example, gov.ie, HSE.ie. 

2. Your policy must recognise that the decision to avail of the vaccine is the individual's choice however the employer encourages their workforce to make an informed decision through: 

Reading information about COVID-19 vaccinations via official sources; 

Listening to the information the HSE provides when offering a vaccine; and 

Being cautious of misinformation around COVID-19 vaccinations by unreliable sources. 

3. Detail whether your employee's will be paid or un-paid for the leave to attend their appointment.

4. If an employee feels unwell after their vaccination they will be instructed to follow The Company's sick leave policy. 

Lastly, we would recommend :

5. That employers include a section in the vaccine policy about employee's respecting others privacy and not having open discussions about the vaccine with colleagues.

Bright Contracts has recently been updated to include a vaccine policy which covers these consideration points for our customers to include in their employee handbooks, which can be found under the terms and conditions tab. 

Related Articles:

- Hello Update! - Additions to the Return to Work Safely Protocol

- Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Law, Health & Safety

11
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

2021 has been a year of big change for everyone and has given rise to many different topics of conversation, a vitally important topic is that of menopause among the female workforces. A media outlet which we believe captures the importance of the conversation around menopause perfectly is The Irish Times who published an article in May 2021 about menopause and the article made reference to how ‘The menopause is where mental health was 10 years ago’. A statement which could not be more true. The origin of this article stemmed from women’s testimonies on Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme and has continued across all media since including being taken up in the Seanad by Senator Pauline O’Reilly. These discussions have brought to the surface the realisation that menopause is considered a taboo subject, like mental health was and like mental health we are not educated enough in what menopause is, the symptoms of it and how we can help those going through menopause which is why it is so important for employers to educate their workforce and to recognise the importance of supporting women in the workplace who are transitioning through menopause which is why we believe it is vitally important for organisations to implement a menopause policy as we believe it needs to be acknowledged and recognised as an important occupational issue requiring supports to be made available.

To ensure that companies show a positive attitude towards the menopause, we want to encourage employers to create an atmosphere where women feel there are colleagues with whom they can comfortably discuss menopausal symptoms and that they can ask for support and adjustments in order to work safely and without fear of negative repercussions. For this reason, the menopause is an issue for men as well as women. So let’s touch on the basics of menopause by answering the simple question, ‘What is menopause?’ Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s estrogen levels decline and she stops having periods. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.

There are various symptoms that can be experienced through menopause and can be both physical and/or psychological. They can include: hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, memory lapses, anxiety, depression and heart palpitations and each of these symptoms can affect an employee’s comfort and performance at work which is why we developed our menopause policy to ensure you are assisting your female employees in their daily duties. In order to assist those experiencing these symptoms in their daily duties, it is important that your company menopause policy explores making reasonable accommodations to the individuals role or working environment with the aim of reducing the effect that the menopause is having on the individual which is explored in our new menopause policy available on Bright Contracts today! We are committed to ensuring appropriate support and assistance is provided to female employees and that exclusionary or discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. Our menopause policy is fully compliant with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 as well as the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015.

Check out your Bright Contracts today to view the update, or if you would like to become a Bright Contracts user you can download the software and purchase a licence today. 
To access the update, log out of your Bright Contracts company file and log back in, you will then see a yellow bar across the top of the page asking you if you would like to upgrade the content.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook

10
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Home Stretch: The Final Key Steps in a Safe Employee Return

Following on from our previous blog post 'As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace', this blog post covers the next essential steps in your Return to Work Safely Protocol. 

4. Complete Pre-Return to Work Forms

5.Provide COVID-19 induction training for all staff 

6.Keeping a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing 

7.Review other Company Policies 

4. Complete Pre-Return to Work Forms

With this step, a pre-return to work form must be completed by employees at least 3 days before their return to work. The form allows employees to self-certify that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms or have not been in close contact with any confirmed or suspected cases over the last 14 days. 

You can get a return to work form template directly from the HSA website. 

In communicating with employees upon their return to work it would also be advisable to establish whether or not they might be considered as a vulnerable worker. There is a HSE webpage that sets out who high risk groups are, you might consider sending this to employees and asking them to notify you if they fall into any of the categories. If they do fall into a vulnerable category you do have a duty of care to take extra precautions to protect that individual. 

5.Provide COVID-19 induction training for all staff 

Once staff return to work they should be given Covid-19 induction training. This will include up-to-date public health guidance. Similar to the Lead Representative training, the HSA have an online Covid induction training. Employees can complete the training on their phone, it takes 20 minutes and once completed employees will receive a certificate which you can place on file as a record that the training has been completed. In addition to the HSA training, it would just be recommended that you recap with employees on the specific changes that have been made in your workplace.

6.Keeping a log of contact/group work to facilitate contact tracing 

Next is keeping a log of close contact/group work. The purpose of this being to facilitate contact tracing should it be required.

7.Review other Company Policies 

And finally, when you’ve done all of the above you may want to look at reviewing and updating some of your existing policies. Previously you may have updated your Sick Leave Policy to reflect Covid-19 illnesses, you now might also want to consider putting in place a Working from Home policy if that is the norm in your company. And we have those updated policies available in Bright Contracts. 

As previously mentioned, The HSA are applying renewed energy into workplace compliance so it is important the employers recheck and re-evaluate where they are. Have things become complacent? Are your policies up-to-date? Do you need to remind staff? 

Hopefully if you put many of the steps in place last summer, it shouldn’t take you too long to review. But if you are looking for assistance Bright Contracts can certainly help. 

For those of you who are using our Bright Contracts package, Bright Contracts has been updated with a template Covid-19 response plan which can be found in the 'Optional Sections' tab of the software. It covers everything referenced just now and more.
The policy has been written closely following HSA guidelines and checklists. We would certainly advise that you review the policy and adapt it to include what is relevant in your organisation, but it is a fantastic blue print to ensure you are addressing all the points you need to.
 Related Articles:

 - As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of Safe Return to The Workplace

Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely?

Posted in Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employment Law, Employment Update

12
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Time Saving With Bright Contracts

Contracts. . . they are the pain point of every HR professional when recruiting new employees, processing promotions, extending contracts etc. To non HR professionals it may seem like typing up contracts is quick and easy work but this could not be further from the truth. The following are just some of the pain points I’ve had when typing up contracts, read and tick off any that may apply to you too when creating contracts of employment:

  • Formatting Issues
  • Grammatical Errors
  • Mis-matched Fonts
  • Saving Error: Corrupted file error meaning I have lost my entire document
  • Time consuming reading complete contract to check for errors
  • Printing Errors: Prints off centre or like a jigsaw puzzle making it frustrating to read

Well, how many points did you tick off that were applicable to you? If you found yourself even ticking off two of the above then you need Bright Contracts in your life as this software eliminates every single one of them pain points and produces a consistent, formatted, clean and compliant contract and handbook for each of your employees.

Read the below quick fire Q&A to gain an insight into what bright Contracts is, how it works and how it can help you with your contract and handbook creation:


What is Bright Contracts?
Bright Contracts is a software package that has everything you need to create and manage a professional staff handbook and contracts of employment. What was once traditionally an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process is now quick, easy and affordable with Bright Contracts.

Why should I use it?
Without employee contracts in place, an employer is risking large settlements in the case of staff disputes, and fines in the case of regulatory inspections. Having contracts also clearly defines the contractual relationship between you and your employees. Bright Contracts is the easiest way to get sorted.

What legislation is the software based on?
Bright Contracts has been written taking into account employment legislation across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The main piece of legislation governing the content of Bright Contracts is The Employments Rights Act 1996 and The Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. The legislation specifies that employees must receive written terms and conditions of employment and what these terms and conditions are. In addition Bright Contracts has taken cognizance of current best practices as well as all relevant legislation in the creation of the content of the contract and handbook. Legislation also requires that employers are provided with details of procedures relating to dismissal, disciplinary and grievances, all of which are covered in our documentation.

How do we know this system complies with requirements and what if the law changes?
The system content has been compiled and tested by HR/Employment law experts. The system will be updated with any changes in legislation, changes brought about by case law or changes in best practice. These updates will be flagged to all current users and will be free to download.

How many people can access Bright Contracts?
When a licence is purchased it comes with two activations which means it can be activated on two separate computers. Once these activations have been used they cannot be deactivated and reactivated on another device.

Do I print off the handbooks and contracts?
The simple answer is yes however if you are trying to reduce your paper foot print then you can also have the handbook and contracts of employment as a pdf document which can then be e-mailed or, if you use our Bright Pay Connect product you can upload the documents to the employee’s connect profile.

You can avail of a free trial of the software or purchase a Bright Contracts licence to adapt these policies to your business today. If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Related Articles:

- Bright Contracts YouTube

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Law, Staff Handbook

11
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Changes under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021

Following on from the signatory into law by the President on the 27th of March, new provisions under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 were passed and as a result of these changes working parents are now entitled to additional time off under Parent’s Leave and adoptive couples can choose which parent can avail of Adoptive Leave.

What do these changes mean for employees?
Parent’s Leave
Paid parent’s Leave was initially introduced through the enactment of the Parent's Leave and Benefit Act 2019 and provided that 'relevant parents' of a child, born or adopted on or after 1st November 2019, were entitled to two weeks' paid leave, subject to eligibility, at a rate of €245 per week by the Department of Social Protection. A parent of a child born on or after 1st November 2019, a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the child’s parent, a parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, an adopting parent or parents of a child or the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting parent of the child. If the parent has already taken their two-week entitlement, then they can take a further three weeks in 2021 (subject to the two year limit).

Prior to this change, the parent availing of the leave had to take their Parent’s Leave entitlement within 52 weeks of their child’s birth or, placement with their adoptive family. Following the enactment of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021, as of April 1st 2021, parents are now entitled to five weeks leave under Parent’s Leave, which is an additional three weeks on the previous entitlement. The Act extends the period in which the leave can be taken, the leave can now be taken within the first two years after the birth or adoptive placement of a child. The purpose of this extension is to allow parents the opportunity to spend more time with their children during the first two years of their child’s life. Employers are not obliged to pay parents availing of Parent’s Leave; however, they can top-up the Parent’s Benefit if they wish.

Adoptive Leave
Under the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005, an adopting mother or sole male adoptive parent, in employment, is entitled to 24 weeks of adoptive leave from work which begins on the day of the child’s placement. Under the Act, the adoptive parent can apply for an adoptive benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection. The enactment of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 amends the Adoptive Leave Acts to enable adoptive couples to choose which parent may avail of adoptive leave therefore removing the assumption that the adopting mother is the primary caregiver.

As part of this entitlement, an additional 16 weeks leave is available to the adoptive parent but is not covered for state benefit. While employers are not obliged to pay employees who are on Adoptive Leave more favourable arrangements can be put in place.

What does this mean for employers?

There are now several options available to parents for leave which include the above, such as maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave. Employees are fully covered by employment legislation while availing of any of these leave options and are therefore subject to the same protections and cannot be penalised in any way. Employers should review their contracts of employment and the appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that the recent changes have been applied and communicated to all employees at the earliest opportunity.

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Posted in Bright Contracts News, Employment Law, News, Parental Leave

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