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Sep 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

What to be aware of when completing a reference check

As an employer, there will undoubtedly come a time that you will be asked to provide a reference check for a previous employee to their potential new employer. If you have a standout employee with plenty of praise for them, then providing their reference check may seem like a doddle, but if you have an employee that parted on bad terms the reference check can be less than straightforward.

Why you should be careful completing a reference check

You have a duty of care to provide a truthful reference check to potential employers – but this may come at a price. Be aware that you run the risk of being sued for defamation if a negative reference that was given cannot be verified. A new employer can also claim against you if an employee who you gave a great reference for turns out to be less than satisfactory.

What can you do to protect yourself?

• You are under no obligation to provide a reference check for employees. If you wish to refrain from providing reference checks you may include a policy in your staff handbook stating this.

• If you are willing to provide reference checks you may adopt a policy to keep it brief and only divulge factual information, including:

- Dates of employment
- Job title
- Relationship to the candidate
- Final Salary

• If you are happy to provide a full reference check for an employee and answer behavioral questions regarding their work ethic, attitude, timekeeping etc. ensure that all the information you provide is factual and true.

When you adopt a reference check policy that best fits your business, the key then is to be consistent. What you do for one employee you must do for all. Inconsistency could leave you wide open to a discrimination claim from a disgruntled employee. Be sure to include the policy in your staff handbook and make all employees aware of it.

Also, see…Top Tips for Reference Check Questions

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Update, SME, Staff Handbook

Sep 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

4 Reasons why contracts of employment are needed

We’ve heard all the excuses before; “I’m too busy and don’t have the time”, “It’s too expensive to implement contracts”, or “I only have four employees, I don’t need to provide employment contracts”. If you are an employer you are obliged to provide your employees with a written statement of terms of employment.

We have compiled the 4 most important reasons why contracts of employment are needed.

It is a legal requirement

Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994-2014, as an employer you must provide a written contract of employment to a new staff member no later than 2 months after their commencement. Employers must also provide employees with written disciplinary procedures, and procedures that the employer will follow when dismissing an employee, within 28 days of the employee starting. These procedures may be included in the employment contract or in the company handbook.

Protect your business against costly disputes

Having contracts of employment in place offers your business protection in the case of a dispute. A dispute can escalate to the WRC, where not having clearly documented terms of employment can really leave you wide open as an employer. If you are found not to have contracts of employment in place for your staff you will face a fine of 4 weeks’ pay per employee. In the case of a dispute, employers could face fines equating to two years remuneration - the maximum compensation award.

Protect your company against WRC inspections

Approximately 5,000 workplace inspections are carried out by the WRC every year, with 60% of them being unannounced. During a WRC inspection, the first thing they will ask to see is a copy of your contracts of employment. In 2016, 62% of employers failed to keep adequate employment records. Inspectors may issue on the spot fines for amounts up to €2,000 where they have reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed a relevant offence.

Instills confidence in you and your employees

In terms of the employer/employee relationship, the contract of employment is the most important thing you’ll ever deal with. It is the foundation stone of the employer/employee relationship. Having contracts of employment in place will clarify certain conditions for you and your employee so that both parties are aware of what is expected of them. Having contracts in place will also instill confidence in you, knowing that you are doing everything you can do to protect yourself and your business in any situation that may arise.

It is never too late to put contracts of employment in place. Read our blog “How can I introduce contracts to existing employees?” and follow our 4 simple steps here.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, NERA, Pay/Wage, Sick Leave/Absence Management, SME, Staff Handbook, Wages

Sep 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

The dangers of dismissing an employee during probation

Recruitment is tricky, and with any new hire there is an element of risk involved; will they work out, is their experience what they say it is, will they fit-in with the team? In the unfortunate instances where things do not work out, it can be problematic for an employer, particularly a small employer. 

A Common Misconception

A common misconception is that if an employee is on probation and things are not working out, that they can be dismissed without regard. This is not the case and can leave employers wide open to a claim against them. There are a number of employment cases that illustrate this and serve as good case studies for employers. In the case of Glenpatrick Water Coolers Limited v. a worker, the Labour Court recommended that the employer pay €6,500 to an employee who was unfairly dismissed whilst on probation. Whilst the Court recognised the inclusion in the contract that normal disciplinary procedures did not apply during the probationary period, the court insisted that fair procedures must still apply. More significantly, an engineer was awarded €33,400 having been dismissed 2 months into his probation period. In both of the above cases, the courts highlighted the employer's’ total failure to adhere to the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary procedures.

Be Aware

Whilst an employee is not protected by the Unfair Dismissals Act until they have accrued one year's’ service, claims for unfair dismissal can be brought under the Industrial Relations Act. Employers should be aware that although dismissal during probation is possible, it does not give employers a free-hand to act as they please. Fair procedures and natural justice should always be respected.

To view our full Essential Guide to Managing Probation click here

To view our Sample Probation Letters click here

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, SME, Staff Handbook

Jun 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

5 essential steps when hiring new employees

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has revealed that unemployment levels have dropped to 6.4% from 8.4% in May 2016 making Ireland the 6th most competitive economy in the world. The CSO statistical release also revealed that the number of persons on the live register is the lowest number recorded, seasonally adjusted since 2008. If you’re a business owner that’s in a fortuitous position to be taking on new staff we applaud you, although it is no easy task. We have compiled 5 key steps to remember when hiring new employees.

1) Advertise

Employment and equality legislation is applicable the moment you post a job advert, therefore be sure to avoid discriminatory descriptions that may exclude a particular group of people from applying. Once you have a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the role you will be able to create a clear job description and person specification, listing the skills and knowledge that you require. Remember, a well-defined job description is essential for attracting the most qualified candidates. For more information click here

2) Interviews

During an interview, we want to obtain important information from the candidate and also build a friendly rapport. Hiring the wrong person can be a very costly mistake for any company so determining whether they’ll be a good fit for the company is important. To ensure your questions don’t find you guilty of discrimination be sure to avoid questions relating to age, marital and family status, gender, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation, race, membership of the travelling community, or any physical attributes of the candidate. For more information click here

3) Contracts of Employment

Every employee who works for your business must receive a written contract of employment no later than 2 months after their commencement. If you do not issue your employees with a written contract you are putting yourself at risk of 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. Take time to ensure that the contracts of employment contain sufficient clauses to govern the working relationship between you and your employees. For more information click here

4) Staff Handbooks

Whether you employ 1, 10 or over 100 staff, having an employee handbook is an essential way to communicate policies and procedures with staff without the contract of employment getting too long-winded. Issuing a comprehensive staff handbook is vital for not only setting clear boundaries in the employment relationship but also in protecting your business if a claim was ever brought against you. For more information click here

5) Induction

You have spent a lot of time and money on a vigorous recruitment process so be sure not to miss the very important final step, the induction. A structured induction programme welcomes your new employee, gives them an objective view of your company, your culture and work ethic. This will allow them to better integrate into the workplace which in turn will help boost staff retention rates. Your new employee will decide quickly if they feel at home and if they go through a well-planned induction program they are more likely to remain at your company. For more information click here.

BrightPay - Payroll Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, SME, Staff Handbook

Nov 13

Posted by
Ann Tighe

€27,300: The Average Cost of Workplace Accidents to Employers

Last year €22m in total in Ireland was paid out in compensation for workplace accidents. For a small business with limited cash reserves, compensating an injured employee can be the difference between survival and insolvency.

There are practical steps that businesses can take to protect themselves and their employees, since most workplace injuries are preventable.

Slips, trips and falls are the largest cause of accidents in all sectors.  Last year they accounted for 33pc of all claims.

One in five of those slips or trips resulted in employees missing a month of work, or more. 25% of all workplaces surveyed by HSA inspectors had not carried out a Slip, Trip and Fall risk assessment.

Prevention can only be achieved by employers leading the way on risk management through robust health and safety initiatives.

Steps to assist in avoiding avoidable accidents:

  • Nominate one person per shift to take charge of cleaning up spills as it creates a chain of responsibility 
  • Erect caution signs in the event of a spill              - Clean up spills immediately and prevent access to the wet surface
  • Fit mats with weights in areas of high footfall
  • Good Lighting and clear identification of ground level changes like unexpected steps are vital.

Proper management of Workplace Safety and Health contribute to long-term commercial success and profitability!

BrightPay - Payroll Software

Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Health & Safety, SME

Sep 13

Posted by
Audrey Mooney


Very few things in life are free so why not avail of a free event to help your business. If you own or manage a small business or are thinking of starting your own business you should visit to register as places are limited.

Attendees will:

  • Meet with representatives from a number of State Offices & Agencies
  • Get information & advice
  • Find out ways to save your business money
  • Receive support to help you in your business

Speakers on the day will include representatives from National Employment Rights Authority, Companies Registration Office, Department of Social Protection, Enterprise Ireland, Revenue as well as many others. Please see the eflyer for full details -

Free Admission

Printworks Conference Centre, Dublin Castle

22nd October 2013 8.30am to 2.30pm

Initiative of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation

Posted in SME

Aug 13

Posted by
Gerri McGinley

New Funding for Irish Employers

The Government has developed a Microfinance Fund to assist start-up and growing enterprises across all sectors with 10 or less employees. Loans of €25,000 are available to companies  considered to be commercially viable even though they may not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by commercial banks. Applicants will have to demonstrate that they have been refused credit by a commercial lending institution before their application is considered.

The new fund will generate €90 million in new lending to 5,500 micro enterprises which will support 7,700 new jobs. Borrowers will pay a commercial interest rate. For more information see

Bright Contracts – Employment contracts and handbooks
BrightPay – Payroll Software

Posted in SME, Start-up