Posts Tagged ‘Employer’

World Mental Health Day

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Each year, the 10th of October marks World Mental Health Day.

Everyone of us goes through difficult episodes throughout our lives, and we all have different ways of dealing with our emotions and feelings. And many live with a mental health illness that is kept hidden for fear of stigma and discrimination.

Recent campaigns are trying to change how we view mental health and encourage people to seek help. We have no issue with getting regular check ups at the dentist and doctor.  Mental health should be no different, but we need to keep it checked too.

Often it’s the little things that can have an enormous impact.  Here are some little reminders to help in times of need, from yourmentalhealth.ie.

 

You can order printed poster and postcard packs at HealthPromotion.ie.  As an employer, having posters displayed in the workplace promoting awareness will encourage employees to be more open and share their issues with you if there is a culture of openness and honesty.

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Employment Status – The Importance of Getting It Right

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Employment status is increasingly important as modern working practices, such as in the ‘gig economy’, become more commonplace. Employers need to understand what their responsibilities are in this new environment, not least because of the legal risks involved if they don’t.

A worker’s employment status is not a matter of choice. It depends on the terms and conditions of the job. Usually it is clear whether an individual is employed or self-employed. If it is not obvious, the checklists below will help in deciding this.

It is important to note that the legal tests for tax (including social welfare) purposes and to determine employment rights are not the same. When looking at the criteria, you must consider the working conditions and the employment as a whole. The main question will always be whether they work ‘as a person in business on their own account’. This will help decide if the person is a free agent with economic independence from an employer.

How to determine if an individual is an employee:

While all the following factors may not apply, an individual is normally your employee if:

  • you control how, when and where the work is carried out
  • they supply labour only
  • you pay them a fixed hourly, weekly, or monthly wage
  • they cannot sub-contract their work
  • you supply the materials for the job and all equipment other than the small tools of the trade
  • they are not exposed to personal financial risk in carrying out the work
  • they do not assume any responsibility for investment and management in the business
  • they cannot profit from the management, scheduling or performance of the work
  • you set the work hours
  • they carry out work for you or your business only
  • you pay expenses to cover subsistence or travel
  • they are entitled to extra pay or time off for overtime.

 How to determine if an individual is self-employed:

While all the following factors may not apply to the job, individuals are normally self-employed if they:

  • own their own business
  • are exposed to financial risk (for example they may have to bear the cost of redoing faulty or substandard work carried out under the contract)
  • assume responsibility for investment and management in the business
  • can profit from the management, scheduling or performance of the work
  • have control over what, how, when and where the work is done and whether they do it personally
  • are free to hire other people, on their terms, to do the work which has been agreed on (i.e. they can subcontract the work)
  • can provide the same services to more than one person or business at the same time
  • provide the materials for the job or equipment and machinery necessary for the job
  • have a fixed place of business where materials or equipment can be stored
  • cost and agree a price for the job
  • provide their own insurance cover (for example, public liability cover)
  • control the hours of work in fulfilling the job obligations.

We recommend that employers conduct a review of all of their contracts for engagement of services so that they accurately establish the appropriate legal status.

Voltedge Management helps organisations develop user friendly contracts and template contracts to ensure the appropriate engagement of employees and contractors. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Are You a Family-Friendly Employer?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Businesses can establish a work environment that enable employees to effectively balance and fulfil their work and family responsibilities at the same time.

Recently I was attending a meeting with a new client in their boardroom and thought I heard a  baby’s toy being squeezed. I assumed I was imagining it until it happened again, and then I looked across the room only to see a baby sitting in a cot in the corner playing. Her mum was one of the 2 people meeting me, and she said – oh yes that is my baby – my MD (who was with us at the meeting) is very good about allowing me to bring her in if I need to.

What a difference from 5 – 10 years ago – when women could not even consider taking much time off for maternity leave – whilst now most mothers can (with holidays and unpaid leave) take up to 12 months off following the birth of a child.

In the Irish Times recently, it showed a video of the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament in New Zealand, Trevor Mallard, feeding and comforting a 6-week-old baby of one of the MPs, whilst he still managed to control the session in the House. He hopes that he is setting the right example as New Zealand already has only the second elected world leader with its  Prime Minister  Jacinta Arden who gave birth and took maternity leave – she continues to champion family friendly policies throughout her country and beyond.

How can you be family friendly and continue to run a competitive, profitable, and engaging business for employees? Here are our 5 tips:

  • Embrace the fact that your female employees are as critical to the business as males, and that preparing for maternity/paternity/parental leaves in a positive way can be a real plus for employees – who will show more loyalty and dedication if they know that you are genuine in supporting them.
  • Make sure that your policies really are family friendly and not just covering a compliance need. Even offering a parent’s return to work course can be really helpful. Give a returning mum time to re-adjust by taking a phased return, and/or by having an induction plan (as if they are new employee – 12 months out is as good as starting a new job).
  • Have social events that give families an opportunity to be involved in the workplace- this doesn’t need to be costly. Many companies offer a ‘bring your child to work day’, ‘bring your parent to work day’ (depending on what your demographics are) – or organise a fun afternoon in the summer.
  • Consider flexible working if you don’t do it already- some companies have real difficulties with this as they need consistent working hours (Call centres, manufacturing line businesses etc.) but most businesses can allow some flexibility – even if it is only in place during term-time or summer time (early/late starting – time off at lunch to collect a child etc.) A flexible employer will find that this type of benefit is far more valuable than financial increases that only get taxed.
  • Encourage work-life balance – yes of course you want your employees to work smart and hard, however if they are working excessive hours, working at home in the evenings, taking conference calls late into the night – and trying to manage family life – they won’t have the energy for both – they will become burnt out and your business will suffer. Work-life balance can mean that you have happy, reliable, and loyal employees who value the culture you have developed.

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.

Employment Contracts – Are Your Contracts Compliant?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

With recent changes in legislation, there are more requirements on employers to issue contracts in a timelier fashion and also to be careful about content and wording – we list below some of the issues to look out for:

  • Issuing a contract: Employers must now give a prospective employee either an offer letter or a full contract within 5 days of commencing the job. There are a number of basic details that must be included so if you can’t get a contract organised quickly, we suggest that you issue an offer letter with the basic legal requirements setting out the 5 core terms (Name of Employee and Employer, Address of Employer, Expected duration of contract if fixed term or temporary, Rate and Method of calculating pay and Expected normal length of working day and week) and follow up with a full contract when you have this ready
  • Fixed-term contracts: These contracts are really beneficial – particularly for SMEs who can’t either afford to take an employee permanently or have a short-term need to cover. A recent ruling however has raised an issue that is important to be aware of. If you state in the fixed-term contract that you may extend it at the end of the contract period, but that there will be contingencies to be considered before you extend the contract – such as working certain hours, or completing satisfactory service – then the fixed-term contract may be considered void, as you are imposing contingencies on future employment that hasn’t been confirmed. In a recent case in the High Court a school was told that the fixed-term contract was not valid, as they had imposed contingencies that implied a permanent contract of employment – even though a fixed-term contract was given. So, ensuring appropriate wording in fixed-term contracts is essential.
  • Fixed-purpose contracts: This is an excellent way of covering particular situations – such as maternity leave, long-term parental leave, etc. However, it is essential that the terms are clear. If you employ an individual to cover a maternity leave, they should not be placed on other tasks, or transferred into other work/positions as this will breach the terms of the contract. Again, care must be taken in the application of this contract.
  • What if you have NO contract in place? Don’t panic- you are non-compliant, and the main issue is to ensure that you resolve this. Issuing retrospective contracts is certainly better than no contract – just take care again in the wording and the detail and take advice if the employee is unhappy or unwilling to sign the contract.

Employment contracts – well written and appropriate – are both essential and very valuable for both the employer and employee -so taking the time to ensure that they are compliant, appropriate and customised to suit the business – is really worthwhile. For further information please contact Voltedge for expert advice. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

New Parental Leave Regulations and Their Impact on Employers

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

New Parental Leave Regulations effective September 1, 2019 – employees will be entitled to 22 weeks unpaid parental leave which is an additional 4 weeks on current entitlements. This will then increase by a further 4 weeks to 26 weeks from 1 September 2020.

The new Parental Leave Act also increases the maximum age of the child for whom parental leave can be taken, allowing parents to take parental leave for children up to 12 years of age – instead of  8 years.

Employees will be able to take the leave in blocks, and this is clearly stated in the legislation, however many employees reach agreement with their employers to take the leave in other forms – such as 1 day per week.

Employers need to consider what is suitable for their business, as they will need to allow for parental leave, but also enable the business to run, and small organisations may find certain types of leave too difficult (such as an employee in a Call Centre or Manufacturing taking 1 day/week). The employer must consent to leave taken in other forms as opposed to 1 or 2 blocks.

Larger companies can agree to, and manage, fragmented parental leave, so it is vital to word the parental leave policy to ensure it is both compliant with the new legislation, but also workable for the organisation.

There is no data available on the number of employees availing of parental leave as it is unpaid (unless otherwise agreed by companies), however it is clear that many females avail of further parental leave at the end of maternity leave, and again to have more time with young children.

More data will become available from November 2019 onwards, as this new scheme will provide 2 weeks paid parental leave during the first 12 months of a baby’s life – this leave will be available for either the mother or father of the child.

Voltedge supports clients in wording their policies to ensure that the policies are appropriate for the organisation, as well as ensuring compliance.

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, July 17th, 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 an employee who has said that they feel bullied – what do I do?

A: If an employee feels they are being bullied the employer needs to be pro-active and immediately talk to the individual.

Questions to be asked:  

1)            When did this start?

2)            Have you had a number of incidents and can you give me details?

3)            Have you attempted to stop the behaviour of the alleged bully and what have you done?

4)            Have you talked to anyone else about this?

If the employee answers yes to the first 3 questions the employer needs to ask the employee if they wish to make a formal complaint or if they wish to keep the issue informal. If they don’t want to make a formal complaint the employer needs to still be confident that the issue is being resolved and not continuing, or put processes/resources in place to support the individual going forward.

If they wish to make a formal complaint, the employer will need to carefully follow their Bullying Procedure, appointing an independent investigator, ensuring fairness for all parties, and communicating clearly about the process.

Q: I want to recruit an employee for a few months but I don’t know what type of contract to offer them? Can I give them a contract that doesn’t have a definite date of termination?

A: Temporary contracts need to be carefully utilised to ensure that employers and employees are very clear about their responsibilities and the type of contract being applied. There are 2 main temporary contracts:

a) Fixed Term Contract: This is a contract with a fixed duration (e.g. 6 months) which is stated clearly in the written contract. If the employee is required after the termination date of this contract, employers should issue an additional contract to the employee, don’t let the contract roll over as this may result in an employee being entitled to permanency (after 12 months).

Fixed term contracts can be renewed for up to a maximum total period of 4 years, at which time the employer will have to make the employee permanent. The employer should also notify this employee of any permanent positions that they may wish to apply for.

b) Specified Purpose Contract: This is a contract for a specified purpose with no duration. An example would be a particular project with a finite life, where the employee is solely engaged on this project and leaves once the project is completed. The critical issue is ensuring that the employee is ONLY engaged under the strict terms of the contract and is not utilised for other work.

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.