Posts Tagged ‘Employee’

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

It’s that time of year again, a flurry of activity between the Christmas parties and office lunches – it’s a really fun time to celebrate the year that’s been and to look forward to all that the new year holds in store.

It can also be the time where we encounter some tricky work issues, even for the most seasoned of managers. Take a few minutes to look through this best practice guide and help make sure your team and your company have a fun and enjoyable Christmas season, building on your sense of shared purpose and success and recognising the contribution and hard work from everyone.

Step 1: How can I prevent issues occurring?

  • Before a Company run or sponsored event, remind staff that they should abide by company policies – even when they are not on Company premises.
  • Ask managers to be vigilant at the event to ensure good conduct and behaviour is being observed.

Consider how you provide alcohol as an employer at a company event – there are options that can be helpful such as using a drinks voucher system instead of a free bar.

 Step 2: Do the company policies apply outside of work too?

Yes, your company policies extend to cover work related events. The most relevant policies that apply in these circumstances include: Social Media, Dignity at Work, Harassment and Bullying, Disciplinary and Grievance policies.

Step 3: What do we do if we receive a complaint?

Complaints should be dealt with in the normal manner through your grievance, disciplinary or other procedures. Dealing with any issues as quickly as possible should also help minimise potential issues.

Here are a few other important areas to think about this time of year.

Managing Public Holidays

1. Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

 An employee’s entitlement is dependent on the nature of their contract:

  • All full time employees are entitled to the public holiday regardless of length of service
  • Part time/casual employees are only entitled where they have worked at least 40 hours in the five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday.
  • What payments are employees entitled to for a public holiday?

Employees who qualify for public holiday benefit will be entitled to one of the following:

  • A paid day off on the public holiday
  • An additional day of annual leave
  • An additional day’s pay
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

It is at the employer’s discretion to decide which benefit will apply.

2. How do I calculate public holiday pay?

  • Employees who work the public holiday or who are normally rostered to work on the day the public holiday falls, then they are entitled to the equivalent pay as the last working day before the public holiday falls.
  • Employees who are not normally required to work on the day the Public holiday falls are entitled to one fifth of their weekly rate of pay.

Payment for a Public Holiday is regular payment including regular shift allowances, but not variable pay such as overtime

3. Are employees entitled to payment for a public holiday if they are leaving employment?

If an employee has worked the week ending prior to the public holiday AND they have worked for the employer for 4 continuous weeks, then they are entitled to payment for that public holiday even though their employment has finished.

3. If the public holiday falls on a weekend what do we do?

If a Public holiday falls on a weekend it does not automatically move to the following Monday as a lot of people might assume. Employers have a number of options:

  • Move the public holiday to the following Monday: The most common approach is to move the public holiday to the next working day and give employees that day off.
  • Recognise the public holiday on the day it falls: If an organisation normally works on a public holiday, the organisation can provide the following to the employee for working that day: A paid day off within a month of the public holiday, OR a day’s pay in lieu, OR an additional day’s pay.

Employers must give employees at least 14 days’ notice of how they will operate and which benefit will apply to them.

Time Off During Adverse Weather

1. If an employee cannot come to work due to bad weather, do I have to pay them?

If the organisation is open for work and the employee cannot attend, then they are not entitled to payment for that day. You can give employees the option to take a holiday day as an alternative to unpaid leave, although you cannot force them to take a holiday. Having an ‘Exceptional leave policy’ in place is good practice to cover you in the event of these occurrences.

Employers can also look at alternatives for the employee, if appropriate:

  • Can they work from home?
  • Can they perform their duties on an alternative day?

2. If our place of work is closed due to bad weather, do I have to pay employee?

Yes, if the employee is available for work then they are entitled to pay for this day, even if the premises are unable to open.

If you are unsure about what arrangements to put in place in your own business, get in touch today with one of our HR experts, and we will guide you through these topical subjects so that you too have a happy and jolly Christmas season. Contact us on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Giving Effective Feedback to Employees

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

One of the most important jobs a people manager has is to give effective feedback to their employees to enhance productivity and motivation. In this article we will give you tips to help bring your employee feedback to the next level.

1) Focus on the behaviour – NOT the person:
Can you remember a parent, friend or colleague saying, ‘You are always late’ or ‘you are hopeless at that’? Your immediate reaction is to say – ‘I’m NOT always late – yes I may be late occasionally but that’s unfair!’

Similarly, when dealing with employees you need to be precise and exact – don’t generalise!
So – instead of saying ‘you are always late for meetings’ – say ‘I notice that you arrived late into our meeting today – and also our previous operations meeting last week – I’m concerned that you will miss key details and/or the team miss out on information from you – can you make sure that you get there on time going forward- it’s important, let me know if there is any reason why you cant get there on time’.

2) Feedback is your opinion and perception:
Don’t use the term ‘We think/we feel’ – this is YOUR feedback and should be only yours. For example: You might say ‘The senior management team feel that you are not pulling your weight and you need to up your performance’. This may not be true, and/or fair, the feedback should be from the employee’s direct manager only.

Only use ‘I’ and give your feedback – not someone else’s.

3) The Feedback Sandwich

You will know of the concept – Say something nice – then the bad news – and then something nice again – the sandwich approach!

This sounds like it makes sense but be careful that the important constructive feedback doesn’t get lost between the nice words – employees like to hear the good stuff and may selectively ignore the bad unless you are very clear – so don’t be a coward- you will be doing the employee a favour if they need feedback on something important even if it isn’t easy to give.

4) Be positive too!
Even though we are saying that the feedback sandwich is not a good method, don’t forget to give the positive feedback too. Recognition is very important – however do remember to recognise people immediately – don’t just wait for a performance review session.

Employees who only ever receive positive feedback may not grow and develop. Always aim for stretch targets and praise to keep them striving for better results.

5) Follow up
Giving effective feedback loses huge benefits if you don’t follow up. Has the employee taken onboard your feedbvack and made changes? Are they being successful, or do you need to help them more? Have check in dates/times planned to ensure you are following through.

Reference: Nora St-Aubin

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: We have a date booked for our company Christmas Party, what should we do to make sure employees know the behaviour that is expected of them without ruining the spirit of celebration this time of year?

A: The Christmas season is certainly a busy time for various office parties and Christmas lunches or dinners out, with work colleagues and it’s a time where employers want to extend their appreciation for the hard work and commitment of the employees during the year. But of course, these events can sometimes lead on to issues that can arise Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011, or the company Dignity at Work Policy. Employers have significant responsibilities for their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing at company events even when they are outside of the workplace, – or when the employee acts without the employer’s knowledge or approval.

It can be a good time to remind employees of the company’s various policies around code of conduct and expected behaviours. So, without dampening the spirits of the Christmas season or being the party pooper, it is good practice to circulate a note to all employees as a reminder of the importance of a shared expectation of respect and dignity at work related events, and for individual managers to follow up on this in their team meetings.

The policies that are important to communicate are:

  • Dignity at Work Policy and Code of Ethics Statement
  • Social Media in the Workplace Policy
  • Disciplinary and Grievance Policy
  • Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Timekeeping and Attendance Policy

For further advice or information on company policies, please contract our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie and she’d be delighted to brief you further.

Voltedge Management

Your Questions Answered

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Can I force an employee to retire? 

A: Most employers have a set retirement date outlined. However, even this doesn’t guarantee that you can enforce retirement – recent cases – including a recent WRC adjudication, have paid out against employers who have tried to make employees retire against their will.

Q: So – what can I do to ensure that I don’t have a problem?          

A: There is no absolute guarantee, but we identify 4 tips below which will certainly help:

  • Retirement age: Have a set and agreed retirement age in place for employees, and ensure it is clearly stated in employment contracts and the Employee Handbook
  • Categories of Staff: Have a consistent retirement age – try to avoid different retirement ages for different positions/categories/grades as this will be seen as confusing
  • Consistent Practices: Practice what you preach! If you can stand over previous consistent retirements in recent years, and you have a precedent for retirement age, you will be in a much stronger position to continue to justify your existing retirement age
  • Retirement Policy: Have a clear Retirement Policy in place which justifies the Company retirement age, and clearly outlines the process for employees and management, including notification of retirement, an appeals mechanism etc.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Your Questions Answered

Monday, September 17th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: When an employee is out on sick leave, do they accrue entitlement to annual leave and if so, for how long?

A: Yes an employee who is certified absent from work due to sick leave is entitled to accrue their entitlement annual leave, and carry that forward for a period of 15 months. This is a change to the Organisation of Working Time Act by the commencement of Section 86(1) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015? Section 86(1) amends Sections 19, 20 and 23 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The effect of the amendments is as follows:

  • Employees will accrue statutory annual leave entitlement while on certified sick leave.
  • There will be an increase in the annual leave carryover period from 6 months to 15 months for those employees who could not, due to illness, take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carryover period of 6 months after the end of the leave year.
  • On termination of employment, payment in lieu of untaken annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the leave entitlement accrued.

Q: Can I give an employee on a fixed term contract an extension to that contract if I still need them to stay on for longer than I originally wanted without them becoming a permanent employee?

A: An employee who has been employed on 2 or more continuous fixed term contracts, will deem to be employed in an open-ended contract if the total duration of those contracts exceeds 4 years. If the employee is reemployed within a 3 month period between fixed term contracts, then they will be deemed to have continuous services.

You should note also that the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 applies to most employees on fixed-term contracts. However, it does not apply to agency workers placed by a temporary work agency at the disposition of a user enterprise or to apprentices, trainees and people in publicly-funded employment schemes such as Community Employment. The Act does apply to agency workers employed directly by an employment agency.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Worker Wins Appeal Over Fixed-Term vs. Fixed-Purpose Contract

Monday, September 17th, 2018

The Labour Court has decided to over-turn and award the appeal of a clerical officer, working at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, who was wrongly assigned a contract of indefinite duration by the Work Relations Commission (WRC) earlier in the year.

The appeal has highlighted an important distinction between fixed-term and fixed-purpose contracts.

Fixed-Term

According to the SFA, a fixed term contract of employment is when the employee has a contract directly with an employer with the end outcome being one of the following; a specific end date, completion of a task or the occurrence of a specific event.

Fixed-Purpose

A fixed purpose contract is similar in that, the employee has a contract with the employer but is only employed to carry out a specific purpose, and once that specific job is completed, the contract will cease.

In this case, the WRC determined the worker had amassed a length of employment- through continuous fixed-term contracts, to be classed as a contract of indefinite duration as per the Fixed-Term Work Act 2003.

However, the Clerical Officer had been employed to work a fixed-purpose contract- to facilitate the implementation of a scheme, with no end date referred to, compared to a fixed-term contract. It was argued that the Fixed-Term Act – which covers the umbrella term of fixed/specified -purpose contract, does not mention anything to prevent a fixed-purpose contract from lasting more than the 4-year limit of a fixed-term contract. The Court stated that given the contract of employment specified a fixed-purpose, not a fixed-term, the employee did not fall under the 4-year fixed-term contract limit, and therefore, did not require a change of contract to indefinite duration.

This has raised concerns in relation to the interpretation of the fixed-term contract Law, in relation to specified-purpose contracts. This is an important benchmark – please contact Voltedge Management for further information and advice.

(FTD184 Labour Court Case)

For more details email info@voltedge.ie or call +353 1 5252914 and ask for Ingrid.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, October 16th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Do I have to pay employees who didn’t come to work or even make an effort to work from home during the hurricane weather conditions, and what about the following day too if they say they can’t travel?

A: We are very fortunate here in Ireland that extreme weather conditions are an exception, however Monday 16th October 2017 will be remembered for the devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Ophelia and sadly the tragic loss of life. As an employer, you do have a duty of care to your staff to ensure they can attend for work safely. These current weather conditions are outside anyone’s control so it is very much up to each employer to decide how to deal with this issue, just like the snow storm we had in December 2010.

Best practice suggests you offer employees the opportunity to work from home, which doesn’t require them to make any journey out in these conditions for work reasons. The Taoiseach reaffirmed in a media briefing that all public service employees would be paid for Monday 16th as their services were closed across the country, and clarified that private sector companies could decide for themselves but referenced the provision for force majeure leave in such circumstances. Our advice is to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of your staff as a priority, and I’m sure the backlog of work will be worked through by your valued employees over the coming days.

Q: I need to ask an employee to change the work she does, as part of the business is diminishing and we need her to work more on reception as our reception has become much busier.  She currently is an Administrator and does a small amount of reception work. We will now need her to do more work on reception, and we know she will not want to do this. Can she request redundancy?

A: If this is a clear business need, you have no option but to change her job content. If the job is not changing significantly (i.e. less than 50%), then you should explain the rationale and help her understand that this is a minor change in her role, and you hope that she will be happy to understand this in line with the business needs.

If the position is changing radically (i.e. over 50%) you should inform her that her current position is no longer viable, and you are now offering her an alternative position as receptionist with some administration work. If she is not prepared to take this new position, then you should state that she will be able to take redundancy.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: We have just re-designed our new Employee Handbook and updated it. We have issued it to all our employees and one employee has said she is refusing to sign the form that states she has read, understands, and agrees to abide by the handbook – what should I do?

A: If you are not making any significant changes it is surprising that she is not agreeing to sign it. We would suggest that you sit down and talk to her and ask her why she has a problem with this. Does she have a genuine concern about a policy – if so, what is it – can you resolve the issue? Does she have some other grievance that she has not discussed?

If she is just being belligerent, we would suggest that you ask her politely one last time, and if she refuses, ask her to confirm verbally that she has read the handbook, then write a note to her personnel file stating this. However, we would advise that there must be an underlying issue, so suggest you keep talking to her to understand her issue(s).

Q: With Brexit looming, we want to check if all our sales employees have Irish or EU passports – we are a sales organisation and we frequently expect our sales guys to travel to UK, Europe and further so having a passport that is easy to get into countries with is essential. What should we do about this?

A: What about having a ‘Bring your passport to work’ day? Inform your employees that it is important to have details of their passports when they are travelling (in case they lose their passport, become ill or there are any problems abroad). If any employee is unhappy with doing this, talk to them and explain why it is important for you as the employer to have a copy of their passport. If they have a passport that may cause difficulties in the future after Brexit – at least you can then have a plan to deal with this.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Key Trends and Challenges for HR for 2017 and Beyond

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

As we embark on a new year we know that 2017 is going to be as interesting and exciting as 2016 was! In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the key trends and challenges in HR for 2017 and beyond, including highlighting some forthcoming legislative changes to watch out for.

National Minimum Wage Increase

With effect from 1 January 2017, the national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee was increased to from €9.15 to €9.25 per hour.

The national minimum wage applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees, except the following categories of employees who are excluded from its provisions:

  • close relatives of the employer, such as a spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother and sister;
  • apprentices within the meaning of the Industrial Training Act 1967 and Labour Services Act 1987.

An experienced adult employee, for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act, is an employee who has an employment of any kind, in any 2 years, over the age of 18.

The following is a table detailing the national minimum wage for experienced adult employees and the sub-minimum rates for young people and certain trainees:

Category Minimum hourly rate of pay % of minimum wage
Experienced adult worker €9.25 100%
Aged under 18 €6.48 70%
First year from date of first employment aged over 18 €7.40 80%
Second year from date of first employment aged over 18 €8.33 90%
Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours:

·         1st one third period

·         2nd one third period

·         3rd one third period

 

 

€6.94

€7.40

€8.33

 

 

75%

80%

90%

Note: each one third period must be at least one month and no more than one year.

Employers need to be very aware of their obligation to pay the National Minimum Wage. During 2016 the Workplace Relations Commission investigated a large number of cases of underpayment of the National Minimum Wage. It is important to note that a claim under the National Minimum Wage Act can go back 6 years. It is also possible for the employee to bring claims under the Organisation of Working Time Act in respect of holiday pay and public holiday pay.

 Family Leave Bill

The government is drafting a Bill which will consolidate, with amendments, all existing family leave legislation including maternity, parental, adoptive and carers’ leave.

In early 2016, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform invited stakeholder groups to make submissions to participate in and respond to the framing of the proposed legislation. Given the timescales, the resulting legislation will potentially be introduced during 2017.

 Employee Share Schemes

Following the recent public consultation on the issue of share-based remuneration, Minister Michael Noonan announced, as part of Budget 2017, his intention to develop a new, SME-focused, share-based incentive scheme which would be introduced in Budget 2018. The introduction of any such incentive will be subject to it having received approval from the European Commission under state aid rules. Any resulting initiative will be welcome as employee share incentive schemes are an effective way of offering tax savings to employees, encouraging employee participation and retaining staff.

 Post-Brexit Opportunities and Challenges for Ireland

In a historic referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. Since then, many have been wondering what the impact of Brexit will be for Ireland. One of the major upsides for Ireland in 2017 will be the opportunity for jobs growth as more organisations look to set up European hubs in Ireland.

For Irish businesses that are exporting to the UK, exchange rate volatility will be their key immediate challenge. Since the Brexit referendum result Sterling has fallen by 18% against the Euro. This fall in Sterling will increase the cost of Irish exports to the UK and will mean increased competition in the form of British imports.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on the 25th May 2018, replacing the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive. The GDPR introduces significant changes to European data protection law, in particular severe financial penalties for non-compliance. It is important that companies start preparing in 2017 for the introduction of these new rules. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has issued useful guidance on how to prepare for the GDPR and the document can be viewed here.

Get advice on Employment & Labour Laws in Ireland. Contact us now at 01-5252914 for any advice.

Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant