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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

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

18
Mar 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Parent's Leave & Benefit Act 2019: Extension of Leave

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 came into effect on the 1st of November 2019 and provides for 2 weeks Parent’s Leave with protection of employment for a relevant parent in respect of a child born or adopted on or after the 1st of November 2019. The purpose of the Act is to enable the relevant parent to provide, or assist in the provision of, care to the child.


In acknowledgement of the difficulties experienced by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet has announced that parents of children born or adopted from the 1st of November 2019 can avail of an additional three weeks of Parent's leave from April 2021 and will be paid at the rate of €245 a week. The benefit is now for five week’s paid leave for each parent up to their child's 2nd birthday which can be taken as either five consecutive weeks or in smaller separate block of a minimum of 1 week duration each.

 

Currently the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 sets out the entitlements and criteria applicable to Parent’s Leave available to the relevant parent. Eligibility for Parent’s Leave depends on the employee meeting specific criteria including the following,

  • The employee’s status as a relevant parent,
  • The employee taking the leave within 52 weeks of the birth of the child or in the case of adoption, from the placement date, and,
  • The employee providing certain notice requirements.

Entitlement to leave is for a relevant parent which is:

  • A parent of the child
  • A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • The adopting parent or parents of a child
  • The spouse or civil partner of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted the child together).

Parent’s Benefit can be applied for at any time to be taken within the first 2 years the child’s life and does not need to be taken directly after maternity leave, paid or unpaid. This leave can be taken within 24 months, up to a child's second birthday or within two years following adoption. This measure will be available from April 2021 as it requires primary legislation to commence the extension of the parent’s leave and the development of the IT system to process the benefit.

Paid parent leave can be taken in addition to existing Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave, Paternity Leave and Parental Leave rights, as applicable to each "relevant" parent.

To exercise the right to Parent’s Leave, the employee must give their employer at least 6 week’s written notice of their intention to take the leave. To apply for Parent's Leave visit here.

View entitlements under Maternity Benefit and Paternity Benefit.

If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Customer Update, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Parental Leave, Staff Handbook

24
Jul 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Back to Basics - New Employees

We often get calls into the helpline requesting basic information on HR/Employment Law queries like how to deal with new starters or when should an employer invoke the disciplinary procedures, so we will look at some basic HR topics in a series of blogs starting today with new employees.


New Employees
• A new employee is required by law, under the Unfair Dismissal Act, to receive a copy of the company’s ‘Dismissal Procedures’, which are usually contained in the ‘Disciplinary/Grievance Procedures’ of the Staff or Company Handbook, within 28 days of starting work with the company.
• Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 the employer is obliged to furnish new employees within 2 months of starting, with a ‘Written Statement of ‘certain’ terms and conditions’ of their employment, also known as an ‘Employment Contract’.
• The new GDPR regulations specify that employers must provide their employees with information about what personal data they hold on them, for what purpose and how it was collected, who it may be shared with, what security measures are in place to keep it safe and what the employee’s rights are as well as other specific requirements. This is called an ‘Employee Privacy Policy’ or ‘Employee Privacy Notice’ and should be given to the employee as an addendum to their Employment Contract.

Based on these 3 pieces of legislation it would be best practice to provide your new starter with their Employment Contract, Privacy Policy and Staff/Company Handbook on their first day of work, if not before it. An employer can be fined up to 4 weeks pay for not providing the employee with their ‘Written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment’ within the 2 month timeframe, so it is best to get into the habit of furnishing the documents as soon as possible.

There is no requirement for a signature from the employee on any of these documents; however it would be prudent of an employer to request a signature from the employee or at least some form of acknowledgement or proof of the employee receiving the documents.

The new Employment Bill 2017, yet to be introduced, stipulates that a new employee should receive some details of their terms of employment within 5 days of starting with a company but it is yet to be seen whether this aspect of the Bill will get the go ahead.

Bright Contracts offers employers a simple and user-friendly system which enables them to easily create and customize all of these documents and keep an electronic record on file. To download a Free Trial click here or book an online Demo of the Bright Contracts software.

 

Bright Contracts | Thesaurus Payroll Software | BrightPay Payroll Software

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, GDPR, Staff Handbook

16
Jan 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

€15k awarded in discrimination case to pregnant employee

The Labour Court found that the sacking of a manager from Wrights of Howth’s Crabby Jo’s restaurant was tainted with discrimination and have awarded compensation of €15,000.

Background

The employee was on a 6 month probationary period when she was fired just 3 months into her employment, very shortly after informing her bosses that she was pregnant.

No issues had been raised about the employee’s performance, however poor work performance was used as the reason for her dismissal on the 15th of June. The employee felt that the atmosphere had changed completely after she had announced her pregnancy on the 8th of May, she had requested a meeting to discuss her concerns she had over this. She was given no opportunity to make any representations or defend her position and was simply informed, without warning, that her employment was terminated.

In its ruling, the court found that no issues had previously been raised about the employee’s performance prior to her notifying them that she was pregnant and she had not been subject to any disciplinary warnings or action. The court originally awarded €30,000 for discrimination based on gender, however this decision was appealed and a lesser figure of €15,000 compensation was awarded due to the manner of the dismissal and the serious lacking in adherence to the restaurant’s own disciplinary procedures.

Learning points

It is important to recognise that disciplinary procedures must be followed at all times, regardless of how simple or difficult a situation may seem to be. It can end up being a very expensive mistake for an employer. Bright Contracts has comprehensive Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, customisable to companies requirements, built into the software.

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

22
Nov 17

Posted by
Marzena Ignar

Making an Employee Redundant

Redundancy is never an easy decision for an employer to make but there may come a time when circumstances arise which leave an employer with no alternative but to declare redundancies.

A redundancy situation can often arise in the following situations:

  • an employee’s job ceases to exist
  • the employer ceases to carry on the business
  • the requirement for employees has diminished
  • an employee is not skilled for work that is to be done

In the event of a redundancy, employees are covered under Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2014, if they meet the following requirements:

  • aged 16 or over
  • have at least 2 years continuous service (104 weeks)
  • are a full-time employee insurable under PRSI class A, or PRSI Class J for a part-time employee

How to calculate Statutory Redundancy Pay

Statutory Redundancy is payable at a rate of:

  • 2 weeks’ pay for each year of service. If the period of employment is not an exact number of years, the excess days are credited as a portion of a year
  • plus one week’s pay

The term ‘pay’ refers to the employee’s current normal gross weekly pay, including average regular overtime and benefits in kind. The above, however, is based on a maximum earnings limit of €600 per week (before PAYE, PRSI & USC).

An employer may also choose to pay a redundancy payment above the statutory minimum. In such circumstances, the statutory payment element will be tax free but some of the lump sum payment may be taxable. 

Employers should ensure that a redundancy policy is included in their company handbook and that all staff are aware of the procedures in place if redundancies were to arise. 

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

Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Handbook, Staff Handbook, Wages

11
Nov 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

How to avoid harassment in the workplace

The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein n the US have created somewhat of a snowball effect worldwide with thousands of women and men speaking out about their accounts of sexual harassment and assault, many of them being work related. Allegations involving high profile individuals and people in authority have demonstrated just how widespread a problem this has become across all industries and professions and has exposed a sinister culture of silence, fear and acceptance which we must now turn on its head.

The Employment Equality Acts clearly defines sexual harassment as: forms of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

It is important for employers to ensure that harassment will not be tolerated and to portray this to their employees and clients. Employers are therefore compelled to take steps to ensure a harassment-free work environment. Effectively, organisations must set down clearly defined procedures to deal with all forms of harassment including sexual harassment.

There are a number of steps an employer can take to help prevent this type of behavior from occurring in the workplace:

A Bullying and Harassment policy 

  • to protect the dignity of employees and to encourage respect in the workplace

An Equal Opportunities policy 

  • to create a workplace which provides for Equal Opportunities for all staff

A Whistle-blowing policy 

  • to enable staff to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner.

Transparent and fair procedures throughout 

Disciplinary action

  • A sanction that is appropriate for the level of alleged harassment – to help try and change the culture of silence that has allowed harassment to become normal and protected.

Provision of on-going training 

  • At all levels within organisation

Bright Contracts has a fully customisable Staff Handbook, which includes a Bullying and Harassment Policy and also an Equality Policy and Whistleblowing Policy.

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

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Company handbook, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

3
Oct 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Be careful of age discrimination in job adverts

Age discrimination in job advertisements has become an increased issue recently and employers need to ensure they are acting lawfully under the Employment Equality Act, 1998. Such discrimination can be seen in advertisements that exclude people applying for certain roles based on their age. Specifically advertising for younger or older people not only limits your chances of finding the right candidate but also discriminates against people of certain ages and a claim can be made against you to an employment tribunal.

Ambitious Young People

Using phrases like “ambitious young people” or “youthful and energetic” straightaway excludes people from a certain age bracket to apply for these roles. These phrases clearly deter older, suitable persons from applying for such roles. With thousands of job advertisements asking for “recent graduates” it discriminates against someone who may have graduated over 10 years ago, but would also be highly suited for the position.

5+ Years’ Experience

Many young people are finding job advertisements that show clear signs of age discrimination impossible barriers to apply for these roles and getting a foot on the career ladder. If a job advertisement asks the candidate to have 5 years + experience in a particular role it could be seen as discriminating against someone who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to gain that experience as they are too young.

Learning Points

When writing a job advertisement it must be carefully written so that the criteria for the role doesn’t make it impossible for, or discourage a certain age group to apply. There are special circumstances where you may look for a particular age group to apply, and in these instances, you must have a justifiable reason or certain necessary requirements of the role and these must be clearly included in the advertisement.

For further information on how to avoid discrimination in your recruitment process please see 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, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

25
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

19
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

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