Posts Tagged ‘Employees’

What Are the Recent Changes to Irish Immigration Regarding Ukrainian Nationals?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

In response to the war in the Ukraine the Irish government has reacted quickly to assist in the crisis enabling people to enter the country under new guidelines.  For all the details and up to date information visit https://www.corporatecare.ie/irish-immigration-update-2/

Voltedge supports these changes and #standswithukraine.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

Why You Should Celebrate Pancake Tuesday in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

1. It brings people together.

Celebrating Pancake Tuesday together builds camaraderie and creates a more positive environment. And the great news: happiness is contagious.

2. Celebrating one moment affects many.

Having positive interactions at work broadens our thinking. They create memories of laughter, personal stories and team work.

3. It’s relatively cheap and it works.

Recognition, encouragement and rewards are proven to boost workplace morale and productivity. 69% of employees said they would work harder if they were better recognized by their managers and peers.

4. Set bigger and better goals.

 Just a little bit of downtime to celebrate with pancakes gives you the mental space to think big.

5. Confidence.

Being recognised either as an individual or as a collective team with a celebration such as pancakes in work, allows you to take stock of your unique talents and what it took to overcome the challenges that landed you in celebration mode.

 

We have included some links to our favourite recipes below!

https://www.fionasfoodforlife.ie/banana-blueberry-pancakes

http://www.cookingisfun.ie/ballymaloe-cookery-school/simply-delicious-pancakes

https://www.happypearcourses.com/pancakes

https://www.odlums.ie/recipes/traditional-pancakes/

https://donalskehan.com/recipes/pancakes-three-ways/

 

Have a “flipping” great day!

7 Things You Can Do Today to Give Your Remote Teams Social Support

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Loneliness is bad for your health – according to some research, it’s as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Even if you’re taking steps to help your remote workers prevent burnout, adapt to the virtual world of work and balance work and family obligations, living and working under the same roof for an extended period of time can make it difficult not to feel lonely.

Here are a few practical things you can do to help your remote employees build strong social ties, experience connection and avoid loneliness.

Why is social interaction and support important in the workplace?

Research shows that social support — family and friends you can count on, as well as other close relationships — can cushion us against a variety of worries, including workplace stress, that can compromise health.

We have identified key aspects of workplace culture that influence how socially connected and supported employees feel and contribute to greater employee well-being and mental health:

  • Work relationships are meaningful
  • Management is approachable
  • People cooperate with each other
  • Interactions between colleagues are caring
  • People feel they “belong” to a group
  • People believe they have each other’s backs
  • There is a sense of fun
  • Special events are celebrated

How do you develop these areas of your company culture?

1. Encourage acts of kindness

In a recent study of people experiencing social isolation, researchers found that feelings of social isolation coincided with an increase in circulation of immature immune cells that travel to the brain and promote anxiety.

The same study showed that “asking lonely people to be kind to others has significantly reduced the offer’s feelings of loneliness.” Other similar studies have shown that such acts also improve mental well-being.

The good news gets better. The same evidence tells us that online acts of kindness – such as donating to a crowdfunding campaign – can be just as beneficial as face-to-face acts of generosity.  There are more ways to engage employees in giving while working remotely:

  • Get your team involved in a virtual charity event
  • Encourage peer-to-peer thank you notes
  • Start a gratitude activity, inviting all employees to send one-to-one e-cards of appreciation to colleagues.

2. Unleash your Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led committees that promote a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with the organisations they serve.

ERGs are built on cooperation and shared interest, and naturally bring people together. For members, they create a sense of group belonging that builds strong social bonds.

One way to tap into the potential of your ERGs is to task them with designing social activities.

3. Celebrate special events in creative ways

Celebrating accomplishments is more important than ever. While some organisations have sophisticated recognition programs, the most valued form of recognition is often the simplest and most personal.

Some ideas to celebrate with your remote workforce:

  • Invite a senior leader to your team video call to speak about the accomplishments of those involved.
  • DIY cocktail kits or pizza boxes or cupcake treats delivered to employees’ homes for a team meeting toast or celebration.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note in the post to the employees’ family telling them just how much the employee is appreciated.
  • Treat an employee to takeout/home delivery from a restaurant in their area to celebrate the accomplishment, while also supporting their community.

4. Instigate informal interactions

In the socially close physical office, people chat to colleagues at desks or gather in the kitchen for an informal chat. These exchanges often bring employees from across teams together and give junior team members an opportunity to connect with their senior colleagues, and listen and observe the various chats and conversations that take place in this setting.

You can still foster these candid interactions without a physical office. One easy way to do this is to set up casual meetings:

  • Virtual coffee dates
  • Opt-in meetings with no agenda
  • Walk and talk team calls – where everyone is out for a walk and join a team call for 10 minutes

To encourage extra connection, you can make these gatherings cross-departmental.

5. Create space at the top of meetings

Without the incidental chat that comes with sharing a physical office, small but crucial bits of social interaction are lost.

When working remotely, it’s tempting to jump right into meeting agendas, but if you want to encourage these interactions, you need to set the example for your teams and make time for personal, non-work related conversation in your meetings. Carving out this time also gives your people the chance to air any stresses they might be carrying, and this will give you an insight into the well-being of your team colleagues.

Making space in meetings for employees to clear their minds is an effective way to show that you care and create social support.

6. Make time for fun

When you can, it’s important to infuse a little fun into your co-workers’ day, because team members who laugh together grow closer together, and laughter is know to be a de-stresser.

Here are a few simple ways you can inject some fun into the workday even while working at a distance:

Create online channels for non-work banter, focused on topics like pets, kids, or artistic interests.

  • Invite a performance artist, like a musician or poet, to give a virtual performance
  • Swirl and sip over a virtual wine tasting
  • Take Trivia Night and Bingo online
  • Startup a book club and get together virtually
  • Join one of the online museum or gallery virtual tours together

7. Check in on a 1:1 level

Supporting employee well-being works best when individualised. When employees get one-to-one support, they feel seen and valued,  plus as a leader, you become better equipped to respond to their personal needs. How will you know if someone’s language of appreciation is “words of affirmation” without taking the time to get to know them on a personal level?

One example is to connect employees affected by COVID-19 with a “buddy” to:

  • Check in on them
  • Keep their spirits up
  • Offer encouragement
  • Sharing strengthens us all

Remote working is here to stay and we all want to make it a successful experience especially as we move froward post Covid restrictions and start to have a little more freedom and the ability to create better remote working environments for our people.

What is discrimination in the workplace and what can we do to prevent it?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Employment equality is essential in every workplace.

Failing to treat your employees fairly can lead to serious consequences, such as resignations or even costly claims in the Workplace Relations Commission.

Additionally – an open, harmonious workplace that values equality and diversity will ensure a much happier and productive work environment.

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace is where one person is treated less favourabley than another person.. Employment equality legislation sets out nine grounds for discrimination in Ireland.

  • Gender
  • Civil status.
  • Family status.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Religious beliefs.
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Membership of the Traveller community.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 is the primary anti-discrimination act in Ireland. This act prohibits discrimination under the above nine specific grounds.

Under employment equality legislation, your business must adhere to the specific anti-discrimination provisions set out in the statute. This means that not all forms of discrimination are covered under the employment equality acts.

Part-time and fixed-term employees also have legal protections from discrimination under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 and the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003, respectively.

Types of discrimination

There are different types of discrimination and some types of discrimination are harder to identify than others. There are several types that may happen, sometimes unintentionally.

Direct discrimination tends to be easier to identify as it will involve a clear case of different treatment.

Direct: When an individual receives blatant different treatment based on any of the nine grounds.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy that appears to treat all employees equally in fact excludes certain people from accessing employment or enjoying employment rights that others enjoy.

Indirect: This is a practice or policy that accidentally treats an individual less favourably.

So familiarising yourself with these to ensure you have policies in place that celebrate diversity and encourage fairness between colleagues will ensure that you are not at risk of discrimination.

If  discrimination occurs, it can result in a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission — legal costs, management time and a negative reputation for your business are the potential risks and costs that you may incur.

There is also positive discrimination where a business shows favourable treatment towards a minority group within one of the nine grounds. Positive discrimination generally consists of employers taking steps that promote equality for all their employees. Employers have no legal obligation to implement positive anti-discrimination measures.

How to Prevent Workplace Discrimination?

Here are a few tips we suggest to prevent workplace discrimination:

  1. Develop a written policy that clearly defines the company policies and procedures.

Creating a clearly written policy is the first step toward preventing discrimination at work. This is just one of the reasons it is important to develop an employee handbook. Every handbook should include a policy on discrimination that every employee receives and signs an acknowledgment of receipt. Your policy should cover a broad range of potential discriminatory acts and include a protocol that outlines how discrimination complaints are submitted, handled, and resolved.

  1. Establish a consistent process for resolving discrimination issues.

Resolving issues quickly and fairly is incredibly important—even if your business isn’t in legal jeopardy, a lingering workplace discrimination issue can lead to losing trust and credibility with your employees. Consistency in how you address and resolve issues shows that you expect everyone to be treated fairly and by the same standards regarding discrimination. While there is no single “right” procedure for workplace discrimination, it is important to establish a process that fits your organisation’s size, structure, and resources.

  1. Continually educate employees on their role in preventing discrimination.

For most businesses, addressing the issue in the employee handbook and onboarding process isn’t enough. It is important to ensure that employees are aware of your policies and procedures and know how to report allegations. It is also recommended that you conduct a separate or enhanced program for supervisory or managerial employees, as they are often your first line of defence in preventing workplace discrimination.

Our Team at Voltedge Management is here to help, we frequently run Dignity at Work workshops with our clients – for management teams and teams of employees. We also advise on policies and practices to ensure employers are compliant with the law and that there are good processes internally to support an open, harmonious workplace that values equality and diversity. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

Tips for SMART Goal Setting to Kick Off the New Year

Friday, January 14th, 2022

This is an ideal time to get your team onboard and focused on what’s important for the year ahead. Setting SMART goals will help align employees with the company objectives and targets.

January is a great time to start talking to employees about the ambitions and priorities for the year ahead. It’s also a powerful way to energise and empower your team to understand fully the opportunity, the trust and control you are giving them to deliver and why they are important to organisation.

Giving employees sight of the company/department/team goals and creating opportunities to come together to map out opportunities for collaboration with others, define individual responsibilities, as well as explore areas for development and support so people can achieve success and perform to their potential.

Why set goals:

  • To deliver business performance
  • To stretch and challenge individuals
  • To link an individual’s performance to the achievements of higher business goals
  • To provide a means for measuring progress
  • To focus behaviours
  • To motivate and develop the individual

Clearly scripted and defined SMART goals agreed between an employee and their manager, will give a greater sense of clarity and ownership as to the performance standard needed to be successful. Making the goals SMART means the feedback conversations will be more meaningful and honest for both the employee and the manager.

SMART Goals

Specific in language

Measurable in quantifiable terms

Achievable with a reasonable effort

Results oriented, not activity oriented

Time bound

Remember, if a goal cannot be measured, attainment can never be known. What gets measured gets done!

Measurement checklist

  • Are the goals realistic?
  • Can each goal be assessed individually?
  • Has personal bias been avoided?
  • Have circumstances beyond anyone’s control been considered?
  • Can evidence be provided to support performance rating for each goal?
  • Has objectivity been maximised?

Providing ongoing and regular feedback through coaching conversations is very important and can be the difference between effective performance achievement and mis-communication between the employee and manager.

Objectives of giving feedback

  • Positive feedback
  • Reinforces achievements
  • Motivates the individual
  • Acknowledges effort
  • Development feedback
  • Gives the individual an opportunity to change their behaviour
  • Helps resolve issues before they escalate to bigger problems

Guidelines for giving feedback:

  • Check your motivation for giving someone feedback.
  • Give feedback as immediately as possible.
  • Respect people’s needs for private discussions.
  • Be honest and upfront.
  • Recognise the positive aspects of a person’s performance.
  • Focus on specific performance examples, relating to things which actually happened in people’s jobs.
  • Make your discussions two way, ask questions, check reactions etc.
  • Vary your style according to the needs of the individual and situation.
  • Focus on helping to move someone’s performance forward.
  • Be tentative about information which is not completely clear.

Our team of skilled and experienced HR Consultants are available to discuss any related matter that this article highlights for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

What employment changes are effective from January 2022?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

COVID-19 Update

Because of the large numbers of COVID 19 cases, the Government advice on testing and how to manage the close contacts situation is evolving and our advice is to continue to check our updates and also the HSA news feeds.

As of today 5th January 2022, the rules on testing is as follows:

1.If you have COVID-19 symptoms:

  • are aged between 4 and 39 then you should self-isolate immediately. You should take regular antigen tests instead of booking a PCR test. If you have a positive antigen test – then you should book a PCR test to confirm that you are COVID-19 positive. If you have repeated negative antigen tests you should still self-isolate for 48 hours after your symptoms have gone
  • if you are over 40 years old you should seek a PCR test as soon as you display symptoms of COVID-19
  • children aged 3 or under should be booked for a PCR test as soon as they display symptoms of COVID-19
  • if you are a healthcare worker then you should still book a PCR test as soon as you show any symptoms of COVID-19

2. If you have an underlying condition which puts you at higher risk of severe disease (or if you have a clinical concern) then you should contact your GP and be advised as to what is appropriate.

Claiming Covid Benefit of €350.00 per week

You can apply for the Covid-19 enhanced Illness Benefit if you:

  • Are suspected of having Covid-19 and are told by a doctor or the HSE to self-isolate or restrict your movements or
  • Are diagnosed with Covid-19.

To qualify for the payment you must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 66.
  • Have a medical certificate called a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from a doctor or have a text or letter notification from the HSE to support your application.
  • Be confined to your home or a medical facility.
  • Be employed in at least one of the 4 weeks before your medical certification and have a current contract of employment, if you are an employee.
  • Have worked immediately before your medical certification and will have reckonable income in the current contribution year, if you are self-employed.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP is an employment right, which is due to come into effect over the next few months, where employees are entitled to claim 3 payable sick days.

Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110. The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16.

From 2023, the number of days will rise to 5 days and 7 days in 2024, and eventually by 2025, employers will be required to cover the cost of 10 sick days per year for all employees, either part time or full time, temporary or permanent, once the employee has completed at least 6 month’s service with the employer, their eligibility is established once they can provide a medical certificate.

Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions. In regard to the requirement of a doctor’s cert, employers can “choose” to trust their employees and not require one but that it is “reasonable” to include it in the Statutory requirement.

More information can be found here.

National minimum wage

The National minimum wage is increased from the 1st of January by 30 cent from €10.20 to €10.50 per hour.

More information can be found here.

What do I do if my employee cannot attend work due to adverse weather?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Employers have various options to consider when deciding how to treat the periods of time when employees are unavailable for work due to extreme weather or other natural events.

The company’s approach should ideally be clarified beforehand in a policy or, in the absence of one, discussed with the employees as the situation arises. It is critical that managers are urgently informed of the organisation’s position, so that consistency operates.

The importance of having an up to date emergency weather policy either in the company handbook or employment contracts cannot be over emphasised.

The following points should be considered for the policy:

  1. Where an employee has the capacity to carry out his or her work from home for the duration of the disruption, this should be agreed with his or her line manager. This will not be feasible for a number of roles where the employee’s presence is required.
  2. Where an employee cannot attend and cannot carry out his or her normal duties, the options of annual leave or unpaid time off should be presented. Daily approval of this should be required.
  3. Where employees arrive late or leave early, whilst some flexibility may be provided, employers may need to consider paid leave where the employees will work up the time missed at a later date, preferably within one month of the occurrence. This is usually more feasible in companies that already operate a flexi-time system. Alternatively, the option of unpaid leave or annual leave (broken into hours) may be considered.
  4. Should an employee be on annual leave when a weather-related event occurs and is unable to return to work due to travel restrictions, employers may use a pragmatic approach and allow the employee to extend their annual leave or authorise unpaid leave during this time.
  5. In the case of schools or crèches closing, an emergency leave situation may result for some staff. This does not fall under the legal definition of force majeure leave. Where the employee is unable to make alternative arrangements, annual leave or unpaid leave could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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?

 

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

Paid Sick Leave – What you need to know as an employer

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Workers to get at least 10 days paid sick leave phased in between January 2022 and 2025.

 

  • The government’s statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in January 2022, rising to five days payable in 2023 and seven days payable in 2024.

 

  • Employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year in 2025. The statutory days a minimum level of sick pay a company must provide but they have the freedom to offer more.

 

  • Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110. The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16.

 

  • An employee will have to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay paid by the employer and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.

 

  • Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions.

 

  • In regard to the requirement of a doctor’s cert, employers can “choose” to trust their employees and not require one but that it is “reasonable” to include it in the Statutory requirement.

 

  • The legislation will expressly state that this does not prevent employers offering better terms or stop unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement, including agreements already in place.

 

  • The new sick pay legislation follows similar measures already introduced to enhance employment rights including paternity benefit, parental leave benefit, enhanced maternity benefit, treatment benefit, and the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed.

Transition Back to the Workplace with Voltedge Management

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Are you worried about how your employees are going to navigate the transition to the workplace? You are not alone.

Creating a plan to return to the workplace is essential for any business to transition and continue to succeed. Organisations need to ensure their employees feel safe and assured that their well-being will be considered and protected.

Our experts at Voltedge Management can support you to build a structured and phased approach to transition back to a flexible workplace. For further advice or guidance, please contact us at info@voltedge.ie or ring our office at 01 525 2914.

Return to the Workplace Vaccine Protocol – Do you know what is required for your workplace?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

So many employers are unsure of the current vaccine protocol for employees returning to the workplace, do you know what is required for your workplace?

Voltedge has created a comprehensive guide addressing these questions.

 

Contact us at info@voltedge.ie to receive your copy.

 

Can I change my employees’ terms & conditions when they are working remotely?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Can I change my employees’ terms & conditions when they are working remotely?

Permanent or temporary changes to terms and conditions of an employee’s contract can occur:

  • With the employee’s consent.
  • Without the employee’s consent, but in reliance upon a contractual provision allowing for changes of the contract, such as a variation or mobility clause.

Variations with Employee Consent

The provisions of an employment contract most affected by the impact of COVID-19 relate to remuneration, working hours and location of work.  Remuneration and working hours are fundamental terms of any employment contract (as is work location but to a lesser degree).  It is a general principle of contract law that the terms of a contract cannot be altered without the agreement of both parties, meaning that unilateral alterations of these provisions by an employer would generally amount to a breach of contract.

Employers must also consider the statutory protections afforded to employees.  Reducing an employee’s pay and without consent may also expose employers to claims under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 before the Workplace Relations Commission, or employees may resign and claim constructive dismissal.

To implement a valid reduction in pay or working hours, without the risk of legal challenge, employee consent or agreement should be sought.  In practical terms this should involve communicating with employees regarding the financial impact of COVID-19 on the business, outlining the rationale behind the proposed changes and consulting with the employees well in advance of the proposed changes to obtain the necessary agreement to reduce pay or working hours.

Once consent or agreement has been obtained, employers should record the agreed variation to the terms and conditions in writing.  This can be done by way of a side letter or addition to the contract which must be provided to the employee no later than one month after the change takes effect.

Variations Through Reliance on Terms of Contract:  Flexibility and Variation Clauses

Many employment contracts include a flexibility or variation clause that aims to allow employers to vary the terms and conditions of employment without any input from an employee.  While the existence of such a clause in an employment contract may be of some comfort if changes are proposed, it should not be relied upon in isolation to impose changes without consultation.  The Irish Courts, while accepting, that in certain circumstances alterations to terms and conditions are necessary for commercial effectiveness, have consistently held that such clauses must be exercised reasonably. It is generally accepted that such clauses are intended to permit minor non-material changes, which do not relate to core terms, such as updates to reflect changes in law or statute or a change in a work practice. Imposing pay cuts, even of a temporary nature, without consultation or consent, by reliance on such clauses is unlikely to be viewed by a Court as reasonable.

Variations: Mobility Clauses

With remote working, or some form of hybrid arrangement between home and workplace set to continue, many employers have already taken steps to reduce the capacity of their physical workplace.  Reliance on a mobility clause post lockdown to relocate employees to work from home permanently, or, to introduce a hybrid working arrangement where employees are opposed to such changes is not without risk of legal challenge.

In order to successfully rely on a mobility clause to introduce significant changes to a work location, employers should provide employees with as much notice as possible of the proposed change, provide detail on the commercial rationale for the proposed changes and afford the employees an opportunity to make representations in respect of the changes before introducing such measures.

Can Employees Who Refuse to Accept Changes to Terms and Conditions be Lawfully Dismissed?

Section 6.1 of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977-2015 (the Acts) provides that dismissals are deemed to be unfair for the purpose of the Acts unless “having regard to all the circumstances, there are substantial grounds justifying the dismissal”. Can a dismissal for refusal to accept material changes to terms and conditions, which an employer claims are essential to the survival of a business, qualify as “substantial grounds” so as to make the dismissal lawful?

The commercial rationale and full effect of the proposed changes should be sufficiently and clearly explained to employees.  Given the importance of fair procedures in the Irish context, it is likely that the procedural fairness followed by an employer in seeking to introduce changes to fundamental terms of the contract will be critical.

Consideration should be given to the extent to which the burden of the proposed changes is being shared between management and employees below management level.  Ideally any changes should be across the board and not targeted at lower paid employees or middle management while senior management remain unaffected. Targeting specific groups of employees can also lead to potential discrimination claims and should be avoided.

Key Takeaway: Engage and Consult

To avoid potential claims, employers who propose to implement changes to employee terms and conditions, on a permanent or temporary basis, should consider putting in place arrangements to engage and consult with them in advance.  Where agreement cannot be reached, evidence of reasonableness, consultation and negotiation by the employer will be critical in successfully defending any legal challenges that may ensue.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Emerging through Covid-19 Guide: Remote and Blended Working

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Developed by Voltedge Management HR consultants and Enterprise Ireland, the Emerging through Covid-19 Guide provides an overview of flexible, hybrid and remote working models and provides insights on how companies can manage these new ways of working to suit their business needs.

Please click HERE to download the guide.

Probation – I have an employee who is being promoted; can I put them on probation?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

I have an employee who is being promoted; can I put them on probation?

Probation is a period of time at the start of employment, usually the first 6 months, where the employer assesses the new joiner’s suitability for the role and if they should be appointed to permanent employment.

When an employee is moving roles or being promoted within the organisation, probation cannot operate in the same way as it would for a new joiner and therefore any issues that may arise must be dealt with in a different way. An employee with less than one years’ service does not have the same protection under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977.

This is an issue that often arises with internal moves, as unsuccessful recruitment with internal candidates is much more tricky than dealing with an external candidate who has little employment law protection.

The employer needs to consider the length of the employee’s service under the unfair dismissal act.

3.—(1) This Act shall not apply in relation to the dismissal of an employee during a period starting with the commencement of the employment when he is on probation or undergoing training—

  • if his contract of employment is in writing, the duration of the probation or training is 1 year or less and is specified in the contract, or
  • if his contract of employment was made before the commencement of this Act and was not in writing and the duration of the probation or training is 1 year or less

An employee with more than 1 year’s continuous service has protection against unfair dismissal and therefore cannot be put on a probationary period in the same way as a new external recruit.

However, although existing employees cannot be put on the same kind of probationary period as new starters, this does not mean that their development in their new role cannot be monitored, and regular review meetings and monitoring are still a good idea. If an employee is promoted, it is logical to assume they are a valued and dedicated member of the organisation. If they are now not performing as expected in their new role, it would be worth the manager discussing with them what has gone wrong and giving them an opportunity to improve.

It is potentially possible for new roles to be on a trial period, but that would need to have been made clear from the outset. If the employer uses a trial period they need to make it clear how long the trial period is, and what happens if either party feels the trial period has been unsuccessful. For example, the employer could specify that the person would return to their previous role. It is important to give this careful consideration, because often the previous role will have been filled, or the employee may not want to move back to their previous position.

In situations where an employee has been redeployed as an alternative to redundancy there is a statutory 4-week trial period (under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967), and if the trial is unsuccessful, the employee can leave and still get their redundancy payment. This statutory period can be extended by agreement between the parties, but that would need to be carefully documented.

If there is no trial period in place (and assuming the employee has no interest in going back to their old role) then it would be a question of going through a performance management process with the employee in their new role, i.e., setting clear objectives and review periods, and after a reasonable opportunity to improve, issuing a series of warnings eventually culminating in dismissal. Alternatively, the employer could take advice about the option of offering the employee a Settlement Agreement, as they may be able to reach an amicable settlement which could be more cost-effective than months of management time spent on performance management.

Key Takeaways: It is crucial that employers set expectations prior to the employees’ commencement in the role. The employer should provide clear goals, give constructive feedback, and have an open and frequent channel of communication. For any future internal moves, it would be worth getting a clear trial period in place. This should be included in the terms when an existing employee is offered a new position within the organisation.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

What is Sickness Presenteeism? What are the Implications?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

What is Sickness Presenteeism? What are the Implications?

The dramatic rise in working from home as a result of the pandemic looks likely to become a permanent feature for many organisations, at least for part of the week. But while this brings many benefits to both employees and employers, it’s also likely to lead to an increase in working while ill. In the long term, this is not good for employees’ health and will require companies to actively encourage their employees to take time off when ill.

Working from home allows employees to balance caring responsibilities and other non-work commitments with work demands, as well as reducing commute times and decreasing job-related stress. The benefits to organisations include increased productivity and a greater flexibility from employees to meet employer needs such as conference calls outside core office hours.

Employees who work from home also tend to take fewer sick days than those who are office based. Many actually appreciate the ability to work from home while ill, as it allows them to keep on top of their workload, while avoiding the strain of commuting to the office or working a full day. It also prevents workers spreading contagious illnesses to their colleagues – something at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment.

So working with a mild illness is not necessarily a bad thing. Known as “sickness presenteeism”, the decision is influenced by a number of factors. These include your company’s sickness absence policies (and how they are applied by managers), the employee’s financial pressures, whether there is paid sick leave, high workloads, tight deadlines and job insecurity.

Voluntary sickness presenteeism can have other positive benefits. If an employee has a chronic or long-term condition and wants to work despite their illness, supportive working arrangements such as flexible working or homeworking can help employees stay in the workforce and aids retention for the employer.

But if employees feel pressured to go to work despite being ill, research suggests it can have negative consequences for both the employee and the company.

A number of longitudinal studies, where researchers collected data from the same workers over a period of time,  found that working while sick can increase the risks of poor health in the future. It also increased the risk of workers having to take more time off due to sickness 18 months later.

Sickness presenteeism also has consequences for mental health. Research shows that if someone had worked while ill in the previous three months, their psychological well-being had been negatively affected. Some employees also felt down or irritable or found it hard to make decisions.

For some, this lasted another two months. Meanwhile, other research has found that working whilst sick increased the risk of depression two years later, even though the workers were not depressed at the first measurement point.

Role of the Employer

Companies generally want to keep employee absence due to sickness as low as possible, as obviously there is a knock-on effect on productivity, efficiencies and profit. Presenteeism (where the employee turns up but is not fully functioning – due to illness or other reasons) is often viewed positively if the alternative is sick leave, as employees will get some work done and their role will not need to be covered by co-workers.

Working at home makes it harder for managers to determine when employees are ill – so they are less likely to tell people to take sick leave. In order to keep sick employees from working, companies need to actively encourage employees to take time away from work.

As an employer, we also have a responsibility to ensure that genuinely ill employees are NOT attending work (wherever that work is) as there may be insurance implications – so this must also be considered when dealing with ‘vague, mild illnesses’. With any serious illness, it is very important that the employer ensures that the employee is not working.

A recent study found that workers diagnosed with acute respiratory illness or influenza during the 2017-18 influenza season were more likely to carry on working if they could work from home than those without the option. Perhaps not surprisingly, workers who received paid leave worked fewer days while ill.

A key aspect of research into sickness presenteeism is that often the seriousness of the illness is unknown. In many cases, employees can still work with minor illnesses (such as colds etc.) and it will not harm their health in the long term. But workers and employers need to be aware of the potential health risk of working through health conditions that require rest and time to recover.

Companies who concentrate on controlling sickness absence in the short term may be encouraging sickness presenteeism in the longer term and risk prolonging an illness or making a health condition worse. Just because we can work from home when we are ill, it doesn’t always mean that we should.

Key takeaways for employers:

Encourage employees to take the necessary time off when ill.   If an employee takes the decision to work from home while ill, check in with them to ensure they are not putting undue strain or pressure on themselves and make sure there is flexibility with their work schedules and deadlines.

Lead by example – managers in particular should show that it is acceptable to take the needed time off to recuperate from illness.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Why is it important to have an OOTO message while on Annual Leave?

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

The importance of having an OOTO during annual leave.

Holidays and time away from work are a necessity in order to be able to unplug and recharge. As research often tells us, disconnecting from work, office politics, and even checking email can ultimately help us to lead a more productive life. The Right to Disconnect gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours, including the right to not respond immediately to emails, telephone calls or other messages.

Too often employees feel the tension of knowing they need to take a break but  fear that their time away will just lead to more work when they get back. While many factors play into this tension, there are small ways one can alleviate the stress of the return to work after taking annual leave.

One step to making annual leave more productive is placing a fitting out of the office (OOTO) email that establishes well-defined boundaries for time away from the workplace. OOTO messages that are written carefully and effectively can be a useful implementation that leads employees to establishing healthier work-life boundaries and working relationships. These little autoresponders built into our emails can give us the opportunity to make social contacts with teammates, customers, and retailers.

An OOTO message allows the employee to have peace of mind while they are away. Simultaneously it provides clear information, guidance, and expectations to clients. An OOTO message prohibits clients sending repeat emails with no reply, and no explanation. An OOTO is a courtesy to those trying to reach the employee and a deterrent to a build-up of unnecessary emails which may overwhelm the employee of their return to work.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

What should companies look at when considering implementing a four-day work week?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

To know if a four-day work week is right for your organisation there are many advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Communication with your employees will be crucial throughout the process and its very important to scope out what a four-day week means for your organisation.

For many, they are looking at how pre-existing arrangement and contracted hour’s between the employer and employee can be worked and completed over a 4-day period rather than a 5-day period.

Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages companies are experiencing.

Advantages

  • Reduced costs

A four-day week can cut costs for everyone.

The obvious one is that, given the office would be closed for one extra day a week, running costs would see a significant drop.

Additionally, employees would be paying less to commute and would see cut costs in expenses like lunch and coffees during the day, too.

  • Happier employees

Having a three-day weekend leaves employees with more free time. Not many people will complain about that.

Having more time to do the things you love increases overall happiness and can help to increase loyalty to a company – it’s a win-win.

  • Increase in productivity levels

Discontent staff tend to distract their co-workers. The general theory behind a shorter week is that happier, more fulfilled employees are therefore more focused on their job when actually in the workplace.

Studies have found that 78% of employees could more effectively balance their work and home life. This was compared to 54% prior to the experiment.

  • Recruitment and retention

In the age of the millennial, being able to offer a more flexible work pattern is definitely a perk that persuades employees to stay at a company.

Knowing they’ll be getting a three-day weekend is one that keeps employees motivated week-on-week. It’s still a relatively rare offering and can be a great way to get the best talent through the door – and keep them engaged, too.

Disadvantages

  • It doesn’t suit every business model

Unfortunately, a four-day week model doesn’t suit every business. It’s an option that is only viable for companies who can re-adapt their whole business to a new way of working.

Adopting a different way of working is a big step, so you’ll need to consider whether or not a four-day week is right for your company. As mentioned communication will be vital during this stage. Ask your employees for their input and include them in the decision making process.

  • Longer hours and work-related stress

In reality, most employees on a four day week will most likely be expected to work the same number of hours, but in four days instead of five. In this case, shifts might be extended to 10 hours.

Longer days could have a significant effect on your employees’ stress levels and therefore their overall wellbeing and productivity.

  • Skipping Workdays Benefits Your Competition

The very possibility that an entire workday is now cut out from your schedule will seem extremely appealing to your competition. If they do not follow the trend themselves, they now have an entire day that they can dedicate to outperforming your organisation.

They may choose to contact your key clients and customers on a day where they won’t be able to get in touch with your employees.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Designing the workplace of the future – A new guide for all employers

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

The world of work was shaken to its core in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Ireland and hundreds of thousands of Irish workers had to suddenly work from home.

The slow and steady drive towards digitalisation accelerated sharply, and virtual meeting programmes such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams became commonplace. Now, 15 months on, and with the vaccination programme well underway, employers can begin to think about a return to the workplace – hopefully permanently. But the many lessons learned during the pandemic has had both employers and employees thinking about the future workplace – will we ever go back to the way it was? And do we want to?

Voltedge Management, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, have produced a new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work, which aims to help business owners think about the positives and negatives from the last 15 months and to use these to build a sustainable business model for the future. With many employees welcoming the idea of remote working into the future, either full-time or for part of the week, is it time for employers to recognise the positives of remote working and tie it into their company policy on a permanent basis? And if so, how can they make it sustainable?

“This is a follow-on from last year’s Covid-19 employer guide; last year we looked at the health and safety aspects of returning to work, while the theme of this year’s guide is around the future of work,” explains Karen Hernández, Senior Executive, Client Management Development at Enterprise Ireland. “During Covid, the workplace has changed, the nature of work has changed for a lot of people, and what employees expect from their employers has changed. Our aim is for all companies to be prepared to put in place the right structures and practices that suit their business needs and also the needs of their employees.

“A large portion of our client base experienced the need to rush into remote working when Covid-19 hit Ireland in 2020. There have been some advantages and opportunities associated with this; some businesses found they’re as productive, if not more productive when working remotely. This guide aims to help companies take what’s worked well over the last 15 months and create some sustainable practices and processes that work for everybody.”

The guide was developed in partnership with Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones of Voltedge, a highly regarded HR consultancy based in Dublin. “The objective with the guide is that it gives you a framework to start developing your own plan for the return to the office,” explains Fredericka. “All organisations are going to have their own dynamic, their own set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Our aim was to identify key pillars for organisations to use to develop structure and a suitable framework for their business.”

The importance of asking questions

A huge emphasis is placed on the need for communication with employees when making these decisions. “Employers need to engage with and actively listen to their employees, while also driving their business forward,” says Joyce. “This is intended as a broad guide, where employers can pick and choose the relevant pieces to them.”

“It’s very important that employees feel that they’re being heard,” adds Fredericka. “However, decisions need to be made based on a number of factors, and employee input is just one of those factors. Obviously it’s really important to manage expectations and sometimes it’s just down to how you ask the questions. Give them some context from a business point of view. It’s not just about the employees’ wish-list, it’s also about creating a sustainable workplace for the future.”

Managing remote workers

Many employers are looking at keeping some sort of remote or flexible working practices in place – and offering this flexibility can be very positive when it comes to attracting talent. “Almost two-thirds of our client base are saying they find it hard to attract, engage and retain talent,” says Karen. “Companies need to consult and stay close to their employees and ask them what they want – and include aspects like flexibility as part of a value proposition to attract candidates.

“Many companies that we are working with are looking at some sort of hybrid model, where employees combine time working in the office and time spent working remotely, at home or in co-working spaces. There are huge upsides, such as accessing skills from different parts of the country that they never would have before – offering remote, flexible or hybrid working is attractive to employees.

However, this can be difficult to manage, and companies need to consider what works for the team as a whole as well as what’s right for individuals within those teams.”

“There’s a big need for management support and training, especially for middle and line managers and supervisors who are dealing with a remote workforce,” explains Joyce. “It’s difficult for them, but it’s important that they get it right. Ensuring your managers are confident in what they do, and in their engagement with their teams. We are hearing that companies are looking to bring their employees into the office more, but it’s about getting that blend right between remote working and the office. One aspect that we emphasised in the guide is the need to make sure you are not discriminating against employees who are not in the office environment.”

Identifying and managing issues such as burn-out and isolation is essential if companies are to offer some sort of remote working policy. “Companies that have regular check-ins and meetings with staff and use different methods of communication, such as video calls, emails and direct messaging are more likely to keep employees engaged when working remotely.  It’s also important for employees to have individual focus time, where they are able to detach from colleagues and concentrate on getting their work done without interruption”, says Karen.  “Long term, we don’t know enough about hybrid working for a definite ‘best practice’ but instead companies should pilot different ways of working – for instance, we have some companies who are trialling a ‘team days’ concept – having the whole team in for certain days of the week, then for the rest of the week, they’re working from home.”

Piloting the new workplace

The aim of the guide is to pose those broad questions that will help employers in every sector decide on the right workplace for the future of their business – but there is no need to rush into a decision. “The biggest challenge for employers is making the decision as to how you’re going to handle this working environment,” says Joyce. “Are you going to fully return, are you going for a hybrid, can you facilitate a full return in the workspace that you have? Employers need to make very big decisions, and very strategic, long-term decisions, so we’re suggesting that they talk to their employees about what they want and then piloting whatever they plan to do before they make any strategic decisions that will impact on the business going forward.”

Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how we work – but now is the time to use what we have learned since March 2020 to create a more inclusive, sustainable business model, one that pushes the business forward while creating a culture that values employees and their health and wellbeing more than ever before. This can only be a positive thing.

To download the guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19 – The future of work’click here.

What do I do if employees don’t like the new workplace layout and their workstation set-up?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

What do I do if employees don’t like the new workplace layout and their workstation set-up?

When you are planning your new workplace, get the views and inputs from your employees early on so that they feel consulted and that their voice is heard. Continuous communication is key. Consider the logistics of the workplace both from an operational perspective as well as from an employee experience viewpoint. Make sure that employees are involved at all stages of the planning process and that they know what to expect when they return to the workplace. Regular meetings and updates about the new workplace layout could be a useful tool here. Remember that creating stimulating and pleasant workplaces will contribute to how employees work and how they perform.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Watch Webinar Recording ‘Tips For Employers Managing Remote Workers’ with Fredericka Sheppard

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

In case you missed the webinar ‘Tips For Employers Managing Remote Workers’ with Voltedge Co-Founder and Managing Director Fredericka Sheppard, in partnership with AccountantOnline, you can access the recording on the link below.

Some of us are experiencing working from home for the first time so there are still some considerations we need to make. Isolation, distractions, and lack of supervision are a real concern for some employees, and as a business owner, it may be your responsibility to promote a good remote working culture.

We recognise that many businesses are managing (newly) remote employees and so, this webinar will help you address your challenges with managing remote workers and highlight the opportunities within your organisation. The webinar provides tips and best practices to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.

Topics Covered

1) Remote Working – what does that really mean for companies

2) Employer responsibilities and the need to build a good Remote Working Culture

3) Addressing Diversity & Inclusion in a virtual workplace

4) A review of the expected regulations on the Right to Disconnect and the Right to request to Work Remotely

5) Challenges and opportunities for companies and managers

6) Developing your own toolkit for a remote working strategy

Click HERE to watch the recording.

As an employer can I insist that an employee returns to the workplace if they do not want to?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

As an employer can I insist that an employee returns to the workplace if they do not want to?

Firstly they will need to complete the Return to Work form where they can state if they have a valid reason not to return, such as a vulnerable relative living with them or a health condition that would make them at risk.

You will then need to discuss this with the employee to understand any potential risks and what action might be taken to minimise these. It would be advised at this point to carry out a full risk assessment and, if necessary, consult with a medical professional, before making any decision.

As an employer, you are obliged to provide a safe working environment that complies with government health and safety regulations and in doing so the current advice is that you can ask an employee to return to the workplace on that basis.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Voltedge and Enterprise Ireland ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’ Guide

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Voltedge and Enterprise Ireland are delighted to share with you our new guide, ‘Emerging Through Covid-19: The future of work’. The guide is intended for all Irish businesses that are preparing for a new chapter in how we work, as we move towards a post-Covid-19 era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How has Covid-19 impacted the world of work? How might the introduction of hybrid or fully remote teams change the way you do business? What new skills will you need to attract, motivate and engage your employees?

The guide considers these and other topics related to how Covid-19 will affect the work environment in the future, as well as covering many of the questions that employers and employees will have.

Sections in the guide include:

  • Leadership at a time of transition
  • The evolving workplace for the future
  • Remote and blended working
  • Employee health and well-being
  • Resource planning in a virtual world

The ‘Emerging Through Covid-19’ guide also includes an FAQ section, a risk assessment template, and a suggested audit and employee surveys to help employers in their approach to this new landscape of work.

Click here to download your copy of the guide today.

Workers to get at least 10 days paid sick leave phased in between now and 2025

Sunday, May 30th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Workers to get at least 10 days paid sick leave phased in between now and 2025. What you need to know as an employer.

 

  1. The government’s statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in 2022, rising to five days payable in 2023 and seven days payable in 2024.
  2. Employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year in 2025. The statutory days a minimum level of sick pay a company must provide but they have the freedom to offer more.
  3. Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110. The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16.
  4. An employee will have to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay, and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.
  5. Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions.
  6. In regard to the requirement that a doctor’s cert, employers can “choose” to trust their employees and not require one but that it is “reasonable” to include it in the Statutory requirement.
  7. The legislation will expressly state that this does not prevent employers offering better terms or stop unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement, including agreements already in place.
  8. The new sick pay legislation follows similar measures already introduced to enhance employment rights including paternity benefit, parental leave benefit, enhanced maternity benefit, treatment benefit, and the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

The Right to Disconnect

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

What does the new code of practice for employers and employees on the right to disconnect which came into effect on 1st April 2021 include?

  • The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.
  • The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect, for example, by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours.
  • The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Are you aware of the New Code of Practice for Bullying in the Workplace?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Are you aware of the New Code of Practice for Bullying in the Workplace?

The New Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work was recently published by the Workplace Relations Commission and the Health and Safety Authority. There are a number of changes and employers should ensure these changes are reflected in their policies and in the appropriate training for their staff.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Is Good Friday a public holiday in Ireland?

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Is Good Friday a bank holiday in Ireland?

Good Friday is a traditional day of rest, but not a public holiday. While some schools and businesses close on that day or close earlier than normal, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day. Public transport services generally run to their usual timetables, but travellers should check these carefully.

Good Friday is a traditional day of rest, but not a public holiday. While some schools and businesses close on that day or close earlier than normal, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day. Public transport services generally run to their usual timetables, but travellers should check these carefully. Some companies give Good Friday as a company paid day but outside of that, it is officially considered a working day. However in the UK and NI, it is a Public/Bank Holiday.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.

Voltedge CMD Fredericka Sheppard talks about the importance of switching off on The Business RTÉ Radio 1 RTE

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Liam Geraghty and Voltedge Co-Managing Director Fredericka Sheppard talk about the importance of switching off on The Business RTÉ Radio 1 RTE.

“All the services show that productivity has been up during #Covid19 but it’s not sustainable long term. Establishing some good practices where you’re actually giving employees permission but also actively encouraging them to take time off, step away from their work station, make sure that they have sufficient rest time and that they’re taking their annual leave will enable people to come back refreshed, with more creativity and a clearer mind.”

Listen to more tips from Fredericka Sheppard here.

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, September 20th, 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: Can we reduce our employees’ salaries?

Although most companies in our sector seem to be doing well, we have a lot of direct competitors and our sales have deteriorated badly in the last 12 months. The senior management team has taken a 20% cut in salary, and we have a senior sales manager who is paid a very high salary who refuses to do the same. Can we enforce a 20% pay reduction on his salary?

A: If the employee has a contract stating his salary and conditions, you are effectively breaching his legal entitlement. The best way to approach this is to consult with him, outline all the facts, and state that you are looking for him to work with you during this difficult phase which is hopefully short-term.

If he still refuses to co-operate, you could look at cutting out his sales commission/bonus, as this should not be part of his contract of employment, and may not be legally binding.

Make sure that you have looked at ALL the options, such as part-time working, offering career breaks, sabbaticals, offering flexible working, looking at your business pricing structures, your overheads. Your operational structure may also need to be reviewed to ensure that you have the best competencies and skills to deliver results in the business.

Q: We have received a couple of grievance complaints about employees being treated unfairly during the performance management process – they say that they are being given very negative feedback which is unfair and unjustified.

A: Giving feedback is vitally important, however too much negative feedback will only de-motivate any employee. If the employee needs to improve, they need to know the areas of improvement, but also have at least a couple of positive comments to keep them motivated. Constructive feedback is a major managerial skill that needs to be utilised carefully and effectively. Management development and training on performance management and motivation is essential.

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

Monday, August 14th, 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: I run a call centre and have a major issue with turnover – how can I improve this and hold onto good employees?

A:  Call centres – by their nature – tend to have a high turnover. However, good employers can at least extend the length of service by tending to the little things – such as caring when an employee has a sick relative, contacting them if they are out sick and asking how they are, celebrating a big customer win with small things – chocolates, pizza, a night out. Have you thought about celebrating each person’s birthday with a card from the CEO, offering flexibility in as much as you can in a call centre schedule. Sometimes employees feel they have no control over their day as they are sitting on the phone for a very strict amount of time. Offer a slot of time to achievers where they can take time out to take a break or get involved in a cross-functional project.

Q: My recent employee focus survey says that the senior management team are disengaged – what can I do about it?

A: This is a frequent issue in medium and large organisations, and the senior management team are always so busy that this may not be a priority.

Make sure that the senior managers are getting coffees and having meals with employees in their canteen or locally. Ensure that they are introduced to all new starters – where practicable. Look at the meetings that a senior manager can attend intermittently. Consider breakfast sessions where they have breakfast or lunch with a cross section of employees. Ensure that the senior management team have a rota to visit satellite offices and engage with employees.

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.

How to create an exciting Employee Value Proposition

Monday, July 17th, 2017

With the war on talent heating up all the time, and the lowest level of unemployment in Ireland since 2008, employers are all keen to ensure that they can attract, retain and continue to hold on to their employees.

So how can you ensure that your EVP is working for you and why should you be concerned about EVP?

An effective EVP that drives employee commitment and advocacy behaviour will also have a direct and profound impact on the loyalty of our customers.

So how can we develop or improve our EVP?

  1. Job satisfaction: Look at how you are measuring, challenging and rewarding (not just financial!) your people. Have you a good career progression plan in place or – if you are a small employer – a good development plan which includes training? Ensure that even the most mundane jobs have opportunity for change/development.
  2. Employer Brand: Does your employer brand extend to your recruitment, your corporate social responsibility and your business strategy? Ensure that you are offering potential employees and current employees the emotional attachment to your brand and your business.
  3. Managers: Employees invariably leave their managers and not their job/company. Make sure that your managers are well trained, supported and understand that their actions have a profound effect on each employee’s retention and their satisfaction in their job. Managers are the key to retention and engagement.
  4. Company policies: Are you able to offer flexible working, flexible benefits, training and development? Are there other policies and benefits that you can consider that will engage and retain your employees? Think about what individuals need/want that will bind them to your company.

EVP is not a one stop solution – it’s a strategic and operational approach to your employees and your business.

Contact Voltedge for a more comprehensive review of your EVP to find out how it can help your retention and employee engagement. Email info@voltedge.ie or ring the office (0)1 525 2914.

HR Practices in Ireland – are we keeping up with technology?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

CIPD Ireland recently undertook a survey of HR Practices in Ireland to see how the profession is responding to a changing and challenging workplace. This was timely given the increased difficulty in recruiting, retaining and engaging existing employees, and using HR analytics to drive business results.

The survey had 938 respondents, 61% in the private sector and 35% in the public sector, 4% were non-government organisations.

The survey gave some very interesting findings as follows:

  • 78% of companies in the public and private sector experienced skills shortages in the past 12 months. With unemployment dropping to 6.4% attracting and retaining employees is critical for business growth in Ireland.

In terms of technology:

  • 60% stated that they were using outdated/inflexible HR systems.
  • 35% stated that they had a lack of analytics and insight into workforce data
  • 35% had little or no opportunity to access analytics expertise.

This is very insightful given that 36% of all respondents state that their top priorities over the next 2 years are as follows:

  • 36% recruiting and resourcing
  • 37% culture change
  • 37% performance management
  • 54% employee engagement

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To ensure growth in the talent pipeline, respondents stated the following:

  • 46% are investing in their employer brand
  • 57% are increasing development opportunities
  • 63% are upskilling existing workforce

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You can access the actual survey here.

So who invited Cupid to the office

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Whether you are feeling lovesick or entirely sick of love, February 14th is here again and St Valentine is no stranger to the many expressions of love and romance we find in the workplace.

We’ve all witnessed the delivery of a bouquet of red roses or a dozen heart shaped balloons, maybe not to us but to a work colleague – and the aftermath of the giggles or embarrassment that follows, but when it’s a co-worker who embraces the opportunity to express their undying affection for you – it can get a little more complicated than you’d bargained. The workplace can be the beginning of many long and endearing romantic relationships but discretion and privacy is always a good policy when it comes to sharing details with our work colleagues.

That’s not to say of course, that we can’t show our romantic side, or gossip about your plans after work, it’s just a good idea to keep it in perspective and consider your environment and your colleagues who may not be the lovesick romantic you are this time of year. Of course Valentine’s Day does offer colleagues an opportunity to organise a charity fundraiser or the social committee’s “work station themed” event to add a little fun and light humour to the office, it can be very entertaining and suitably romantic.

Our advice is that the usual good practice applies on Valentine’s day as it does for other special events at work such as the Christmas party and secret Santa etc. Managers don’t really want to have to discuss matters of love and romance with you, so it’s a good policy to stick to work and your performance at work.

Managing the Probation Period

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Most permanent contracts of employment provide for a probationary period, usually of six months in duration. The purpose of the probation period is to allow the employer a fixed period of time to evaluate the suitability of the new employee for their role based on performance and behaviour.

Probation periods can often be misunderstood, especially when it comes to the need to terminate employment during the probationary, or extended probationary, period – termination during this period remains a tricky subject for employers.

It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. However, employers do need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures.

Employee with less than one years’ service are not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015, however, they are covered by the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 (as amended) and The Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2011 and may pursue a claim through these avenues if they feel a dismissal was wrongful or in breach of their equality rights.

Key points for successful probation management:

  • Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires
  • Ensure you have clearly set out the length of time for the probation period and that the probation can be extended, and for how long.
  • Include in the contract that employment is subject to a probation period, how long and how long it can be extended by.
  • Have procedures on how you will manage issues during the probation period – specifying that you will implement an abridged version of your disciplinary procedures during this period or have a separate probation procedure.
  • Have regular review points during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards.
  • Whatever your defined procedures are, ensure you apply and follow them fairly during the probation period, this may well come under scrutiny if it is being looked at by the Courts. The Labour Court has awarded damages to the employee due lack of fair process, even though the dismissal is deemed to be justified.
  • Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations.
  • Manage the probation process in a timely manner – if the period of probation passes and you have not confirmed anything with the employee, it may be too late to commence probation procedures a month or so after the probation end date.

Length of the probation period

Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months. For certain employment types, that may require a longer period of training or assessment, the initial probation period can be for 9 months with an option to extend by a further 2 months. Equally, for roles that may require an employee to be effective more quickly, a shorter probation period could be implemented.

Care should be taken where the period of probation, or extended probation, is longer than six months as, once contractual notice is added to the period of notice, dismissals in these cases could come within the scope of the Unfair Dismissals Acts and the employer may have to justify a dismissal under those Acts. Employees come under the protection of these acts once their 12 months’ service is completed.

Summary

It is crucial that you have the correct procedures in place for managing the probation period and that probation is clearly outlined in the contract of employment. Having a good starting point with clear expectations of what performance and conduct is required during this period, the support and training that will be provided and the mechanism that will be used to assess outcomes will make for easier resolution of issues, should they arise, at the point of review. In all cases where a dismissal occurs employers must ensure they give due regard to general principles of natural justice and provide employees with a fair process.

Get Help Managing Performance

We have developed a very practical workshop for managers on “Effective Management of the Probation Period” which just might be the toolkit you need to get a better outcome from your new employees. Contact us on 01 525 2914 or info@voltedge.ie to request some additional information on our range of services to help your performance management skills.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

 

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, February 13th, 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: I have a new employee who is on a 6-month probation – she is an administrator. She is not really working out -can I just give her 1 weeks’ notice and tell her to leave?

A: There is a pre-conceived notion that probation allows employers to terminate an employee who is on probation for little or no reason and that there is no come-back.

Unfortunately, this is not true, and we are seeing more and more cases (mainly brought under the discrimination legislation) where aggrieved ex-employees have said that they were not treated fairly during their probation period.

The golden rules are:

  • Have a clear probation clause in the contract, giving the option to extend probation up to a maximum of 11 months. The probation should allow for a one week notice period during the probation time.
  • Have a good job description so that the employee fully understands the job they are supposed to be doing.
  • Meet the employee at least every 2 weeks during the probation period to review how they are getting on, talk about any issues, clarify if the employee is not doing the work expected/or not doing the work well enough, and give them objectives to improve.
  • If the employee is not suitable, make sure that they understand that their probation performance is not reaching an acceptable level, and that they may not pass probation. When informing them that they are unsuccessful and that you are giving them notice, be very clear about the reasons and that you have supported them through the process.
  • And finally, treat the employee fairly and be supportive. This can be a challenging time for the employee, and with your support, most new employees will make the grade.

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.