Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Insubordinate Worker “Shown Latitude”, Dismissal Upheld

Friday, March 15th, 2019

A former general operative at a beef processor has failed in his unfair dismissal claim, after he was fired for “serious acts of insubordination”, including ignoring an instruction from a manager to return to work after he left the production line without permission.

This case outlines the numerous issues reasonable employers face today. Implementing correct procedures enables the reasonable employer to correctly dismiss incompetent workers. Following established procedures and utilising mandatory guidelines gives both sides the right to natural justice. When dealing with an issue of an insubordinate worker –  what should a  reasonable employer do, and how they should they do it while still maintaining best practice.

An insubordinate worker is a worker who defies authority by refusing to obey orders and this may be classified as an act of gross misconduct. If found of gross misconduct the employee should be immediately suspended depending an investigation on a prima facie basis. The key point of view from the courts is not to see if it is classified as gross misconduct but to determine whether it was substantial grounds to dismiss and to measure what a reasonable employer would do in the same position.

The complainant in this case worked for the company for a total of 13 years broken service. His most recent period from 2009 to 17th November 2016 when the employee alleged received his second complaint of gross misconduct. The first on the 6th of October for a similar case. Based on November’s complaint, it is alleged that he displayed acts of insubordination towards management and disappearing from work which ultimately led to his dismissal. The employer stated during the courts proceedings that they engaged in a process in line with best practice and delivered the complainants right to natural justice.

The complainant argues this point however, on a procedural error that he had never received witness statements, when a letter stated that he had. The complainant argues the point that he simply went to the toilet while no manager was around, informing a colleague to cover for him which led to this dismissal case.

The employer stressed his implementation of best practice offering the respondent his right to representation during the investigatory meetings and  even providing an individual interpreter to aid the employee. However, he attended with no representative. The complainant’s solicitor requested a postponing of the meeting to discuss the case, which the employer granted.

During this time, the complainant claimed that the employer did not use fair procedural grounds as he failed to take any submissions from other witnesses and failed to execute a cross examination. In the complainant’s view. the dismissal was totally disproportionate, and the employer failed to interview the appropriate people and that the process was “procedurally flawed.”

The adjudication officer (AO) at the time referenced the following cases in applying the test of reasonableness. These being “Leyland UK Ltd v Swift” in which the critical element being where one employer may be reasonable, another might be different. Along with “Hennessy v Read & Write Shop LTD”, they pointed out that in holding an investigatory meeting alone was an act made by a reasonable employer.

Furthermore, the AO concluded that because the complainant left the grounds without any permission from staff, it was sufficient grounds to justify the dismissal. He also found that the employer had an established grievance and disciplinary procedure, as the complainant was given enough notice and was made aware of disciplinary meetings and of the investigation itself.

It was the complainant’s own decision not to bring a representative. It also found based on the witnesses reports that the complainant had received their statements. While not perfect, the AO concluded that the dismissal was of a sufficiently high standard and granted the case in favor of the employer thus dismissing the employee on grounds of a fair dismissal.

For further advice or information, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Friday, March 15th, 2019

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: What is the maximum hours my Employee can work in a given week?

A:  The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 states that the maximum average working week for many employees cannot exceed 48 hours. This does not mean that a working week can never exceed 48 hours; it is the average that is important. The average may be calculated over one of the following periods:

  • 4 months for most employees
  • 6 months for employees working in the security industry, hospitals, prisons, gas/electricity, airport/docks, agriculture or in businesses which have peak periods at certain times of the year (such as tourism)
  • 12 months where this has been agreed between the employer and the employees (and this must be approved by the Labour Court)

Q: Do I include time spent on breaks, if I pay my Employees for their breaks?

A: No, time spent on break is not considered working time unless the Employee is liable to be called to work on breaks.

Q: What if my Employee takes an annual leave day, do I consider that when calculating their hours?

A: No, the 48 hours of work do not include annual leave, sick leave or maternity or adoptive or parental leave.

Q: Are there exceptions to the Working Time Act?

A: Yes, It does not apply to the Gardaí, defence forces, employees who control their own working hours or family employees on farms or in private homes. Separate regulations govern the working time of trainee doctors, employees at sea and those working in mobile road transport. 

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

Voltedge Management

Changes to Critical Skills Employment Permit (Stamp 3) Holders

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

It was announced on the 6th March that the spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit (Stamp 3) holders will no longer have to apply for an independent work permit to access the Irish labour market.

Until now they could only apply for a work permit on receipt of a job offer and follow a lengthy and cumbersome process to have it approved and be eligible to work.  This is no longer the case and on entry into Ireland spouses and partners will be entitled to the same conditions as a Stamp 1 holder enabling them to take up work immediately.

 What does this mean to employers in Ireland?

Specifically in the tech sector where there are significant skills gaps and shortages employers are forced to source talent from outside of the country and the EEA.  The Critical Skills Employment Permit was designed to attract highly skilled workers to fill these vacancies and enable Irish companies to grow and expand.

The permit holder has the option to apply for immediate family reunification which makes it very attractive. Although spouses and partners have always been able to access the labour market the administration and process involved made it difficult and often prohibitive.  Therefore, these changes will now enhance the attraction and benefits of coming to Ireland on a Critical Skills.

Employment Permit for the holder and their co-dependants.  It will also provide an immediate boost to the labour market here as they will be available to work themselves immediately should they wish to.

In such a competitive talent market, Ireland needs to be seen as a great place to live, work and invest in and making changes like this is critical to ensuring our economic growth and prosperity.

If you, as an employer, are struggling with hiring highly skilled people and think your roles might be eligible for permit holders, visit the following government website for all the criteria and details.

For further advice or information, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Top 5 Tips Vital to Good Staff Absence Management

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Managing employee absences can be problematic at times for employers. It is important, however, to manage absences reasonably and fairly. In order to assist employers, we have put together our top 5 tips on managing staff absence.

Whosonleave.com have outlined important management tips to help employers dealing with absenteeism – and we outline these below:

  • Clear attendance policy

Make sure that this is easy to understand, clear and every employee can access it/has a copy. It should outline all the company’s attendance requirements, expectations and check that there aren’t any loopholes – think about the issues you have had and work through the policy to see if the policy works for you

  • Training

Training is essential – both with new hires, to bring them trough policies, and with your current employees to remind them of your expectations – it’s also a good time for them to talk about concerns/issues and raise them directly

  • Documentation

Take notes! Managers should be noting any absence, conversations on return to work, calls being made to absentees etc. Documentation is vital to understand the issues, manage them and work with the employee(s), presenting details to them if needed.

  • Reward good attendance

We all know that it’s good to reward good behaviour instead of punishing for bad behaviour all the time. So, make sure that employees with good attendance/time records are acknowledged. This doesn’t need to be a regular reward, sometimes the best rewards are a manager’s comment saying thanks, or a voucher out of the blue.

  • Be consistent!

Managers need to apply policies consistently – any gaps will be picked up and abused! Ensure managers are trained and updated, take them through examples of how they need to manage absentees to ensure consistency, and talk about informal versus formal approaches – as these can often be major areas of inconsistency.

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

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

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: How can I fairly let an employee go during probation when they are clearly not working out?

A: There are a few steps you need to take before you notify an employee that their employment will be terminated fairly.

  • Firstly, clearly outline the issues you are having with the new employee. Is it performance, conduct, behaviour, timekeeping or something else that is proving a problem and is prompting you to question if they are a good fit.
  • Secondly, once you are clear that there is an issue, and you understand fully what it is – avoid making a long list of everything. You need to be fair, it needs to be reasonable, and you need to sit down and discuss it with the individual – so be realistic.
  • Ensure the employee is familiar with the probation management process – how you will engage with them during that period and how you will raise any issues or matters that need to be address.
  • Invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue – clearly set out what it is, when it happened, give a copy of the probation policy, grievance policy, disciplinary policy and maybe even the equality policy. This is not a disciplinary meeting so you don’t have to extend to them the opportunity to attend with a colleague or representation, at this stage it is an internal matter that is directly between the manager and the employee.
  • At the meeting discuss the issue at hand, what it is, the impact it is having on the business/team, what it is you want them to do about it – agree a corrective action or a PIP performance improvement plan. Give them very clear outlined guidelines of what it is you need them to do and the time frame and the standard that they need to achieve etc. It’s also important that you tell them the sanction of their performance or conduct or timekeeping etc improving, so they should be clear at the end of the meeting what it is you need them to do, by when, the quality and what next steps will be if that is not achieved. You may need to consider further training, on the job coaching,  or some other kind of intervention that is reasonable in assisting the new employee reach the required standard at this early stage of their employment.
  • If the problem continues then you may need to call them to a disciplinary meeting, or you may need to hold an investigation etc. If you are inviting them to a disciplinary meeting, ensure you follow good practice and your company policy – don’t skip stages that you have in your policy – due process is really important. Document everything, make sure the employee knows exactly what it is you will be speaking to them, allow them the opportunity to bring a colleague or a representative to the meeting, give them every opportunity to express their views, to account for themselves, etc. Don’t pass judgement until you have allowed them the opportunity to speak and put forward their side. You may need to get someone neutral to conduct an investigation if it’s not possible to assess the accuracy or exact circumstances that have taken place – remember disciplinary action or dismissal is a serious matter and it should not be taken lightly.
  • Once you know the outcome of the disciplinary meeting or the investigation, decide on the appropriate course of action that is proportionate to the incident. It could be that you decide to give them a new project to work on from start to finish, or you clarify the expected timekeeping, or you outline appropriate conduct etc. Give the individual an reasonable time to prove themselves and to correct the matter.
  • If it continues, then use your policy to manage it – but don’t rush to dismiss, as it might be considered unfair. Follow you policy, give them a chance to appeal your decision if necessary and make sure you have someone in an objective position there to hear the appeal and reach an appropriate decision.

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

Voltedge Management

The Lunch “Break” – Tips for Employers

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

How do your employees spend their lunch breaks? At their desks clogging up keyboards with crumbs, catching up on the headlines, emails and working? Sound familiar? It’s not really what a lunch “break” is supposed to be.

Back in the day when the Internet, let alone computers, didn’t exist or at least sit on everyone’s desks it was very common for people to go home for their lunch. Yikes, imagine taking the time to go home, eat a meal, maybe catch up on a few things in the house, chat to anyone else who was home for lunch and then go back to work feeling like you’ve had a real break ready to tackle the afternoon shift.  And if it wasn’t home you were going to it was certainly to a canteen, café or quite possibly the pub for an hour.  Nowadays employees might still get out, but it is most likely to pick up a takeaway, run errands and tick things off their never-ending to-do lists. Doesn’t sound like much of a “break”!

So, what can employers do to help their employees take a real break and come back to their desks feeling energised, productive and motivated for the afternoon, which quite possibly will stretch into the evening?

Get them to leave their desks! 

  • Have a “no-eat” at the desk policy, providing of course you have an alternative space for employees to go and eat.  This will promote social engagement and interaction with colleagues which turn will promote the sharing of information, ideas and issues that otherwise are not nurtured or vocalised.  Often the best ideas come from a “water cooler” chat rather than the boardroom.
  • A great way to get employees engaging and away from their work stations is to provide Lunch Byte Sessions. Run a series of one-hour modules on self-development topics such as How to be successful, Personal Branding, Body Language or Wellbeing. Or invite the employees themselves to do a presentation on a day in the life of Me.  Often referred to as Brown Bag lunches, the employer provides the food, which is an added incentive to attend.
  • Encourage your employees to get some fresh air, even if it is a ten minute trot around the block. Unplugging for those ten minutes and having head space alone or a chat with a colleague along with that burst of energy is a great stress-buster. Incentivise them to clock up “foot miles” which can be used to redeem a voucher, a free lunch or even towards time off.
  • Have you a quiet space where your employees can take a power nap? We all know tired people can be grumpy, irritable and unproductive!  It is proven that a quick 15-20 minute nap during the day can have huge benefits.  It will increase concentration and memory performance, making employees more productive, reducing stress levels and improving moods. In many countries such as Spain, Italy, Japan and China afternoon naps are a normal part of the daily culture.

We are recognising and understanding that the fast pace of our 24/7 always on lives can take its toll on our wellbeing. Employers have a duty of care to mind their employees.  It’s a win-win initiative, as happy, engaged, awake employees are far more productive and motivated.

It’s not called a Lunch “Break” for no reason!

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Flynn O’Driscoll

Corporate Associate/Senior Associate

Legal Executive

Litigation Solicitor

Novi

Onsite Technical Support Engineer

PCO Manufacturing

Quality Manager

ThinScale 

Social Media & Communications Specialist

Voltedge

Tech Recruiter (Contract)

 

Other

Office Manager

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit and employment rights: Key questions answered 

  1. What is the current status of negotiations?

A draft agreement on the UK’s departure from the EU, along with a political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship, was endorsed by the EU27 on 25 November 2018, but has yet to be ratified by the UK. The UK Parliament is scheduled to vote on the draft agreement in the week of 14 January 2019.  The below guidance is subject to the caveat that these documents have yet to be fully ratified.

  1. What are the key dates in the Brexit process?
  • 21-22 March 2019 – The last European Council with UK participation
  • 29 March 2019 – The date on which the UK is scheduled to withdraw from the EU
  1. Can Brexit be delayed or cancelled?

Yes, an extension to the Brexit process is possible, but would require the unanimous support of all the remaining EU Member States. The European Parliament elections in May complicate matters, as the UK would be required to field candidates if they had not yet left the EU. The UK can also cancel Brexit by withdrawing its Article 50 request (i.e. the request to leave the EU) and maintain its EU membership on its current terms.

  1. Will there be a transition period?

As part of the withdrawal agreement, a ‘status quo’ transition period up to 31 December 2020 has been agreed to facilitate an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The draft agreement provides for a single extension of the transition period, potentially until the end of 2022. Any decision to extend the transition period must be taken before 1 July 2020. Save for certain exceptions, EU law will generally be applicable to and in the UK during the transition period.

  1. How will the withdrawal agreement affect the processing of personal of data?

EU law relating to the processing of personal data will apply in the UK in respect of any processing of personal data of individuals entitled to the protection of EU law, where the data (a) was processed under EU law in the UK before the end of the transition period or (b) is processed in the UK after the end of the transition period on the basis of the draft agreement. This is unless an adequacy decision (as has been made for third countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland in the past) is made by the EU Commission with respect to the protection of personal data in the UK.

Click here to read the rest of the questions.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Voltedge Management

The New Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 – Q&A

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

 

In what has been described as one of the most significant pieces of employment law in a generation – The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that is scheduled to come into force on 4th March 2019 is one to look out for. The new legislation aims to strengthen the regulation of precarious and casual Employment.

Speaking to the importance of the Bill, Minister Doherty said:

“I am delighted to reach this stage for one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation and, crucially, to have introduced legislation that will profoundly improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. In a changing world, this reform ensures that the legal protections for all workers will match the conditions experienced by a modern workforce and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of workers.”

The main provisions of the bill are:

  • Under the legislation, zero hours contracts will be banned except in situations of “genuine casual employment” (work done in emergency situations or short-term relief work to cover routine absences for the Employer). This is likely to have a big impact for industries where casual or a-typical contracts are more common, like tourism, retail, healthcare, fast food and hospitality in particular.
  • Employers must give employees basic terms of employment with 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of employment commencing. The Bill introduces criminal liability for failure to provide the written statement of core terms within one month of employment commencing.
  • Banded Hours provisions: Consider requests from employees to be put in a ‘band of hours’ that reflects the actual hours worked as opposed to the contracted hours. This will impact any employer who employs part-time or variable hours employees. There will be a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work whereby they will be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12-month reference period;
  • A new minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work. This is a new minimum payment to be paid to employees who are not required to work on a certain week or who work less than 25% of their weekly contractual hours in a particular week
  • Strong anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.

Who will the new legislation impact?  It will impact all Employers because one of the provisions is a requirement to issue core terms of employment within FIVE days of an employee starting work. If you normally issue contracts after commencement of employment, ensure that from next March you do so within 5 days of commencement of the employee’s employment. Note: This new obligation is in addition to Section 3 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 which requires an employer to provide a written statement to an employee outlining 15 core terms of employment within two months of commencing employment.

The five core terms of employment are as follows:

  1. Full name of the Employer and Employee
  2. Address or principal place of business of the Employer within the State
  3. Fixed – Term/ specified purpose contracts- expected duration /expiry date
  4. Rate or method of calculation of employee’s remuneration and pay reference period for purpose of National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  5. Number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work (a) per normal working day and (b) per normal working week

Q&A

Q: Do I have to re-issue contracts of employment to existing staff?

A: No, it is not necessary to re-issue contracts of employment for existing staff but be advised that those who do not have written statements of employment which conform to the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 as amended may request a statement of terms of employment and that statement will need to be compliant with the new legislation.

Q: Are “as and when required” contracts still permitted?

A: So-called “as and when required” arrangements (where employees may refuse without consequence hours of work offered by the employer) will still be a permitted form of employment relationship once the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) legislation comes into effect.

Q: What penalties am I likely to face if I am in breach of the legislation?

A: The Bill will also bring strong penalties for employers who do not comply with its provisions. These include:

  • Awards to employees who are not issued with the core employment terms in writing within 5 days of starting employment
  • Fines of up to €5,000 
  • Anti-penalisation awards of up to two years’ salary
  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Imprisonment of up to 12 months
  • Potential for personal liability for senior employees and directors where they have consented or connived in non-compliance in respect of certain offences

For further advice or information, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Flynn O’Driscoll

Corporate Associate/Senior Associate

Legal Company Secretarial Trainee

Legal Executive

Litigation Solicitor

MACE Promotions

Sales Administrator/Internal Accounts Executive

ThinScale 

Social Media & Communications Specialist

Other

Administrator/Receptionist

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

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

Q: Can I let my new hire go during their probation period if they aren’t working out?

A: It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. Employers need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures throughout the probationary period.

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

Q: How long should a probation period be?

A: Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months.

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.

Q: What can I do to make sure I successfully manage the probation period?

A: Make sure you have regular review points with the new employee during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards. Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations. Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires so that they fully understand it from the outset.

For further advice or information on company policies, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Summary of Employment Law Changes 2018

Monday, December 17th, 2018

and What to Watch Out For in 2019

2018  saw a  number of significant changes to employment law for employers . In this summary, we review some of the highlights of the year and examine what these mean for employers for the year ahead.

January

On 1st January 2018  the Mediation Act 2017 came into force  and many would argue that there has been very little written on its  on its relationship and impact to current employment law. One of the main reasons for this is the exemption under Section 3(1)(b) of the Act to disputes that fall under the functions of or being investigated by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) including disputes under Part 4 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015. The application of the act will however impact claims outside of the WRC such as bullying, contact and gender discrimination and hence employers and employees would be prudent to use mediation in the first instance of dispute resolution.

February

With the centenary of the Women’s right to vote, and Iceland’s historic decision to make gender pay differences illegal in Jan 2018,  gender equality has received significant media attention this year.  In response to a Eurostat 2015 statistic which highlighted  the gender pay gap for Ireland at 13.9%, The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commissions Bill 2017 was proposed and passed by the Seanad in Oct 2017. Known as the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill  2017, this report gives power to the commission to require organisations that have 50 employees or more to report on the gender pay gap within their business. With this in mind and as gender discrimination is often a basis for claims in the WRC, employers may see disparities in gender treatment and pay claims more likely in 2019.

March

The high profile case of Cox Vs RTÉ 2018 in the WRC brought significant attention to the ongoing subject of age discrimination and compulsory retirement. Currently Irish law allows for mandatory retirement ages in contracts and policies within certain stipulations. This is a considered a contentious issue by many, primarily driven by the widening pension pay gap as the state increases the traditional pension retirement age from 65 to 68.

The Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill 2016 is an opposition led Private Members’ Bill and if implemented as it is currently drafted, would have the effect of restricting an employer’s ability to contractually impose a mandatory retirement age. In the interim , employers are advised to ensure that there is consistency and a definitiveness about pension wording in employee contracts and all of the supporting documentation around it such as  pension scheme details, employee handbook, and internal policies and procedures to defend potential claims.

April

The issue of sexual harassment has received unpreceded media attention thanks primarily to the #me-too and #timesup social media campaigns which levelled a number of allegations of sexual misconduct at a number of high profile individuals. These movements have given women and men across the globe the much needed opportunity to speak out against sexual harassment in their workplace. This ‘fightback’ approach was evidenced recently by The Equality commission in Northern Ireland which released statistics indicating that there has been a 31% increase in sexual harassment complaints over the last 5 years. Employers are advised to take this opportunity to review their sexual harassment and diversity policies  and ensuring that training to create awareness and understanding of these policies is provided and  promotes  that a culture where victims can come forward without fear of victimisation

May

The much publicised GDPR ( General Data Protection Regulation) 2018 came into effect on 25th May. This regulation presents significant changes to the way employers gather, retain and process personal data. While  the focus on GDPR has certainly decreased in recent months, the Government’s announcement of a   dramatic increase in funding for the OPDC from  €1.6 million in 2011 to €15.4 million in 2019 indicates that this will increase the number of audits completed by the OPDC in 2019/20.

For employers, GDPR requires the creation of a number of mandatory policies and procedures. All employee handbooks, policies and procedures issued prior to this date referring to the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2003 should now  reflect changes. Employers should also ensure that their employee handbook references a summary of the changes and directs users to their comprehensive policies such as data breach and destruction policies and data subject rights and access request policies .

June

The Parental leave (amendment bill) 2017 was passed by the Dáil on 13th June and is now currently at second stage within the Seanad. If enacted, it will come into effect within three months of its passing. This bill extends the duration and applicability of Parental leave from 18 working weeks to 26 weeks in respect of each child and increases the qualifying age limit from 8 years currently to 12 years ( or 16 years of age where the child has a disability or long-term illness). Parents who have availed of Parental leave to date will be eligible to avail of the additional 8 weeks once enacted into law. However, given that the bill has not been established into law employers should continue to process Parental Leave requests as current law dictates while ensuring that  preparations should be set in motion to  allow for the implementation of the new entitlements in 2019.

July

Following review, The Low Pay Commission announced that it was recommending an increase to the minimum wage  from €9.55 to €9.80 which was accepted in principal by the government. This increase, which is the 3rd Increase since the minimum wage was implemented will come into effect on 1st Jan 2019.

August

In recent years technological advances have led to a changing environment where remote working is becoming both increasingly accessible and popular. While requests for flexible working arrangements are becoming more common, the balance between ‘flexible working’ and  available for work  ‘24 x 7’was highlighted in a decision by the labour court to award a business executive €7,500  over repeated breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act.

Described by law experts as “ground-breaking”, in this case (Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Company v Grainne O’Hara [2018]), the court found that Ms O Hara was being required to deal with out-of-hours work emails, including some after midnight, that led to work in excess of 48 hours a week. A key feature of this case was the failure of the employer to produced documented evidence to dispute the claim. With this in mind employers are reminded to ensure that accurate records of working hours are being maintained

September

Inherent bias in recruitment and selection can have a detrimental impact on a company’s brand, finances, culture and ability to hire and retain the best staff. There was extensive news coverage this month of  a recent job advert published on a  public recruitment website by a Dublin Based oil firm which stated ‘Persons with young children need not apply’. While  this advertisement is blatantly discriminate and fortunately rare, employers are reminded of the important of addressing bias in their selection process. Employers are urged to ensure that ‘equal opportunities’ policies in place within companies are implemented in all aspects of the organisation, including employees recruitment and selection process

October

Revenue announce that The Pay As You Earn ( or Paye) system first introduced in 1960 will be moving to ‘real time’ in an effort to ‘proactively assist taxpayers in their revenue obligations’.  This represents a fundamental change for employers to the way current process employee tax payments and comes into effect on 1st Jan 2019. Employers and payroll administrators  are advised to become aware of these changes to ensure legal tax compliance and are holding a number of information seminars. Details of these seminars can be found on the Revenue website.

November

The focus on mental health in the workplace dominated much of the headlines this month with the publication of a report  from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) research, funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), that has  found job stress among employees doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015. Employees from the health sector were found to have the highest levels of stress ( 18%) followed closely by public administration (16%) and manufacturing (14%). The Occupational  groups most likely to experience stress were technical/associate professional( 20%) , professionals (16%) and managers (14%).

Several International studies have  shown that job stress is linked to poor physical and mental health and to negative impacts for firms through absenteeism, increased job turnover and reduced morale. This report follows the recent decision by the High Courts to award the  plaintiff, Ms Hurley in Hurley Vs An Post [2018] €161,133 (including €50 K for pain and suffering) for her employers failure to address ongoing bullying and harassment in a meaningful way. This is an  important reminder for all employers in regard to the duty of care owed to employees. Employers can be held liable for an employee’s bullying of a colleague which can result in mental health problems in accordance with section 8 of the Health and Safety at work Act 2005. Employers are therefore reminded of the importance to have appropriate policies and procedures in effect to deal with these types of issues  and ensure that training is provided.

December

The Employment (Miscellaneous provisions) Bill 2017 passed by Dáil Eireann in July this year made significant process  this month having completed its final stage in Seanad. This Bill forms part of the Government’s proposals to tackle zero hour contracts and uncertain working conditions. This bill described as “one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation” by Regina Doherty, Minister for  Employment Affairs and Social Protection will have significant impact for employers in sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism where the use of flexible working arrangements is widespread.

Aspects of the bill include  the requirement for employers to provide new hires with a written statement of core terms of employment within five days of starting employment and makes it a criminal offence for employers to incorrectly designate employees as ‘self-employed’.  The bill will also prohibit zero hour contracts “except in situations of genuine casual employment” or when they are used to provide cover “in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence”. Pending final review by the Dáil, it is anticipated that this Bill will become law in March 2019 and employers are urged to review existing arrangements for employees ensuring correct employment status and avoidance of potential criminal conviction.

So as you can see there are a number of changes taking effect from January 1st 2019. For further information on any employment law matters, contact us at info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01-525 2914.

Jacqui Sykes, HR Consultant 

Managing the Christmas Period

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

The Christmas period can pose tricky issues to even the most seasoned of managers. Here we cover the key areas that employers might be faced with:

Do our policies apply outside of work?

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

 How can I prevent issues occurring?

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

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

What do we do if we receive a complaint?

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

Managing Public Holidays

Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

 An employee’s entitlement is dependent on the nature of their contact;

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

 What payments are employees entitled to for a public holiday?

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

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

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

How do I calculate public holiday pay? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Off During Adverse Weather

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 employee?

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

If you are unsure about what arrangements to put in place in your own business, get in touch today with our team of HR experts.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

Tips for Good Probation Management

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

It’s well known that probations extended past 12 months run the risk of redress under the Unfair Dismissals Acts. However, employers also need to be aware that employees can have redress from day one of employment under section 20 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969, or indeed the Employment Equality Acts where reasons for termination are discriminatory in the employee’s view.

Essentially, probation is a time to assess a new hire’s suitability. Employers who view probation management as a natural extension to the hiring process, who communicate well and who deftly demonstrate fair process can save themselves costly headaches in the long run.

  1. Align Expectations

Ensure you align expectations early by including a robust probation clause in the contract of employment. The clause should cover, at a minimum, the purpose of probation as being time to assess the employees’ suitability, the duration of the probation period, that probation review meetings will take place, that the employee can pass or fail prior to the end of the probation period, that the probation period can be extended, that probation can be paused in the event of absence, and that the full rigours of the disciplinary procedure do not apply during probation.

  1. Communication

Be clear and up front early on about what is expected of the employee in their role by agreeing objectives (ideally SMART). Do not wait to the end of the probation period to discuss any shortcomings. Be fair to the employee by meeting them early to address any suitability or performance concerns, affording them opportunity to improve and following up afterwards giving them clear and balanced feedback. Ensure that they are aware that these meetings are all probation review meetings. Communication early and throughout the probation period is key, not solely at the end of it.

  1. Follow Fair Process

Ensure that you give the employee very clear feedback on any suitability concerns you have identified,  giving them adequate and reasonable time to improve. Provide them with the assurance that you will support during this time however be clear with them that non improvements puts them at risk of their employment being terminated.

  1. Keep a Record

Simple crafted email communications sent immediately following a meeting can support the employee’s understanding of the issue at hand, thus reducing the chance of matters being different in the employee’s view either now or at a future date, whilst also providing you opportunity to provide clarity of process and document an all-important paper trail of fair process in the event this needs to be demonstrated at a future date.

Sarah Treacy, HR Associate

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

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

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

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

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

The policies that are important to communicate are:

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

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

Voltedge Management

Food for Thought

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

This common expression has been around since the late 1800’s taking the idea of digestion from the stomach and transferring it to the brain. Having used this expression recently it got me thinking, no pun intended, on the effects of food on our mind and subsequently productivity and performance.

We are all familiar with the daily cycle of peaks and slumps, and although we often attribute them to food – I am hungry or I am too full – we don’t think about why exactly they are happening. Different types of food react differently with our bodies and therefore the type of fuel we put into ourselves will have varying results. Premium fuel equals premium performance! 

What we eat is almost all converted to glucose which in turn provides energy to our brain to keep it alert. When glucose is running low, we become hungry and find it difficult to concentrate and pay attention.  So, we eat! Very often our choice of food at this point is what will give us that much needed burst of energy the quickest – sugary, processed, calorie ridden, high fat – we all know the drill. And yes, they will give an immediate feeling of satiation, but it won’t last. The sugar crash that will inevitably come will make you feel weak, confused, anxious and the high calorie high fat foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy, all contributing to poor performance and productivity.

The solution

Not allowing your energy levels to dip so low that you are not making informed healthy eating choices. Snacking (yes snacking which I’m quite fond of, my colleagues all know where my hidden goody drawer is, which I have to say does have several healthy options and not just the ubiquitous pack of biscuits), stops you from those big highs and dips and keeps the brain in a constant active, creative and productive state.

Food choices are the key ingredient to better performance with fruit and veg ranking high on the table. Research has shown that eating them throughout the day is great for the mind and the body. The British Journal of Health Psychology carried out a hugely interesting study where participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviours over a period of 13 days. Afterwards, researchers examined the way peoples’ food choices influenced their daily experiences. It concluded that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

The reason for this is they contain vital nutrients that promote the production of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement.  Additionally, they provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.

What action can employers take:

  1. Have a supply of healthy snacks available for employees to eat throughout the day to maintain their energy levels.
  2. Encourage employees to make healthy lunch choices by having posters displayed in the kitchen area.
  3. If you’re buying lunch in have healthy options available and order early before employees are too hungry to make informed choices.

Here are some of the health choices you should be aiming to have in that goody drawer, kitchen cupboard, boardroom table and lunchbox:

Blueberries
These berries have a great combination of antioxidants and a high amount of gallic acid, which can protect our brain from degeneration and oxidative stress and boost our focus and memory.

Almonds

These tasty nuts are rich in healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, and plant protein. They support healthy brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

Whole grains

They will help you stay mentally alert all day long. Eat wholegrain cereals, rice, granary bread.

Pumpkin seeds

The seeds are rich in zinc which is vital for improving memory and thinking skills.

Dark chocolate

This is rich in flavonoids that increase blood flow to the brain. It can boost memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.

Green tea

This contains theanine that can help you with focus and concentration.

Spinach
These greens contain a lot of antioxidants and can help improve learning capacity.

Broccoli
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your thinking and boost your focus.

Sunflower seeds

They are considered to be an essential source of fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins and are a great food to fight fatigue and help you stay productive.

Food for thought indeed!!

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Your Questions Answered

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

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

Q: Can I force an employee to retire? 

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Dental Nurse

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

PCO Manufacturing

Quality Assurance Analyst

Olivia Buckley International

Event Designer

SDL Exhibitions

Business Development Executive

Marketing Executive

The Benefits of Working Remotely

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

More employees want to work remotely, and employers are beginning to recognise the benefits.

Increasingly we hear people discuss the importance of work/life balance which is no surprise as companies try to maximise performance, while improvements in technology have created around the clock accessibility for employees.  It’s no wonder that people cite flexible working hours and remote working as important benefits to help them capitalise on their time.  They do not want to be desk bound Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, which very often is counterproductive anyway to their working environment if dealing with different time zones, out of hours activity and such like, and importantly doesn’t allow for many daily life events and activities.

70% of employees say flexible/remote working would make a job more attractive to them. 

Remote Working refers to any type of work that is performed outside of a traditional office or workplace. More and more people are choosing to work from home, if not every day then at least for part of their week, and some choose to work from co-working office spaces. This saves them valuable time as well as sparing them from commuting stress.

Currently there are 216,000 employees working remotely in Ireland and this figure is continually increasing.  As we approach full employment, employers will need to look at ways to encourage staff retention and incentivise the on-boarding of new talent.  The housing crisis is driving more people out of the cities and instead these people face a lengthy and costly commute.

Improvements in technology have made the employee more accessible wherever they are. Software that provides face to face meetings for multiple users in various locations, such as Skype which has become a normal part of any work day, saves a business on commute time and costs.  Office365, Dropbox, SharePoint and many others allow employees the same access from a remote location as they would have in their office.

Abodoo is a new global platform, created by Irish couple Vanessa Tierney and Ben Wainwright, a technology company that is at the forefront of encouraging SmartWorking.  In a recent interview with Silicon Republic, Vanessa Tierney is quoted as saying that “Dell, for example, has set a goal of having 50pc of its workforce working remotely by 2020. Cisco makes $277m annually in productivity savings by allowing remote working. And, here in Ireland, the likes of Shopify and Amazon all have substantial home-working teams.”

In a study conducted by YouGov, only 45% of employees said they get to work the hours that best suit them.  Of employees that are offered flexible working hours, 82% said it made them feel more positive about their job, while 79% said it was a reason to stay with their employer for longer.

Two thirds of managers say that remote workers are more productive. 30% of remote workers say they work more efficiently due to fewer distractions.  And 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels.  So, as this is a win situation for everyone, it’s a good idea for businesses who are not already allowing remote working to consider how to introduce it.  Businesses save on overheads, fewer desks, space and resources being required.

The Irish Independent reported recently that Kefron who employ more than 150 people in Ireland and the UK have enhanced their data storage, security and remote working capabilities.  Cork firm, Teamwork, estimates that 23% of its employees work remotely.

The roll-out of the National Broadband Plan will have a huge impact on the availability of high-speed broadband thereby making remote working an option for many more employees once their employers support it.

Roslyn Keogh, Project Manager

News from the Courts – WRC awards €30,000 to employee with epilepsy

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

A solicitor who requested to work from home one day per week has been awarded €30,000. The employee suffers from epilepsy and had made the case that working one day at home would help her stress and fatigue, the employee’s epilepsy caused seizures at times which were unpredictable.

The employee’s neurologist had also given medical advice that stated that stress and fatigue can cause epileptic attacks, and that reasonable accommodation of her request to work from home should help her condition.

The employer maintained that working from home would be incompatible with the employee’s “frontline” job functions. The employee argued that her work was of a preparatory nature and that she had huge autonomy in her role.

In awarding the sum of €30,000 to the employee, the Adjudicating Officer stated that the company appeared rigid in its approach and did not take into consideration the potential improvement the time at home might have to her health. The Company also did not take into account the neurologist’s report which was received after the initial rejection of the request.

This ruling emphasises an employer’s need to seriously consider employees with disabilities and attempt to facilitate them – where possible and within the constraints of the business. (ADJ-00011821)

Voltedge Management

Your Questions Answered

Monday, September 17th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge Management

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

Monday, September 17th, 2018

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

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

Fixed-Term

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

Fixed-Purpose

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

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

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

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

(FTD184 Labour Court Case)

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

News from the Courts – Paddy Power Loses Case

Monday, September 17th, 2018

The Workplace Relations Commission has found the Bookmakers to be in breach of the Working Time Act 1997, as it was found that employees were working over the legal 4 hour and 30 minutes, without taking 15-minute breaks.

The employer had used an electronic sales system, which kept a somewhat reliable record of employee’s activity on the till, and when they were off it. It was argued that the employer did not ensure the employees received statutory breaks, and that inactivity on the till could not count as a break.

The employees also stated they often had to deal with customers during their given break times, meaning they did not get uninterrupted breaks set out under Law.

Submissions from Paddy Power declared staff were encouraged to take breaks at quieter times and offered a flexible regime, to take personal-paid time off if they wished. However, the WRC did not agree that the system in place accurately measured break times, and that the flexible leave did not mean the employer was abiding by the 15-minute break rule for shifts more than 4 hours 30 minutes.

A clock- in, or similar system, was not used at the Paddy Power facility in question, which may have helped to prevent this breach from occurring.

It is important for employers to remember that it is there responsibility to ensure employees take their statutory breaks, and that these should be uninterrupted and taken in full.

(ADJ-00012077/12079/12080 WRC)

Talent & Recruitment

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Dental Nurse

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

PCO Manufacturing

Commercial Director

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Other

Inhouse Recruiter

Property Administrator

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, August 27th, 2018

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

Q: My team work really well together but recently I have had two complaints about one member who is not pulling their weight. I don’t feel it is a major issue.

A: As a manager you have a duty of care to all your reports, and if there is a perception about an employee not being productive in the team, then this needs to be dealt with. We suggest that you meet the individuals who have complained, understand the context, and then deal with the issue either as a genuine complaint to be followed up with the individual or explain the context and that the individual is not effective due to other issues (possibly outside of the individual’s scope).

Q: I have had a complaint of harassment made by a junior staff member about one of my managers – I don’t think it is justified and was hoping it might ‘die down’.

A: You have a responsibility to the employee but also to the manager if they are being accused of inappropriate behaviour. You should review your policies and procedures and firstly approach this as an informal issue. In the first instance you need to decide whether there is a genuine issue here – if the employee perceives that there is an issue you must follow up on it.

Hopefully you can resolve it by talking to the employee who made the complaint and resolving it either by getting the two people to talk, or by facilitating a discussion. If not, you may need to move to a formal process.

Q: An employee has complained that they are not getting enough breaks and that their eyesight is affected by sitting at a computer screen all day. We do enforce breaks and expect employees to manage their time so I don’t see this as an issue.

A: As an employer, you are required, under the Safety and Health regulations, to provide sufficient breaks (outlined in the Working Time Acts) and to also ensure that equipment is suitable and not causing any health issues. We suggest that you check that this employee is taking breaks regularly, and also offer them the opportunity to go for an eye test (which can be covered as a benefit when employees are paying PRSI). Here is a checklist to work from:

  • Carry out an analysis or risk assessment of employee workstations
  • Provide information to employees in relation to measures which have been implemented
  • Provide training to employees in the use of workstations before commencing work with display screen equipment and whenever the organisation of the workstation is modified
  • Perform a further analysis or risk assessment where an employee transfers to a new workstation or significant new work equipment, change of equipment or new technology is introduced
  • Ensure that the provision of an appropriate eye and eyesight test is made available to every relevant employee

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

Voltedge Management

Is This the Job I Applied For?

Monday, August 27th, 2018

 

Hays Ireland recently published a report which said that 46% of employees who left a role within 12 months did so because the role did not meet their expectations.

The Hays survey of 1,800 workers showed that many specified that the job descriptions were misleading, the application process was poor; at interview stage they were not interviewed by their line manager, their interviewer was not prepared for the interview, the process and communication through the process was poor and then once on-board the promised training was not provided.  Another survey by Robert Walters found similar results in that 70% of workers believe they were misled at induction stage about the company culture.

Hays has said that 74% of employers plan to recruit in 2018, and of those 68% intend recruiting for permanent positions.  Given the considerable amount of effort it takes to find good candidates in the current market, the cost in terms of time and budget, why are companies not being smarter about their recruitment and on-boarding process?  This is a ‘lose-lose’ situation for both the employer and the employee.  Why not look for the person who is both a good match for and who also wants the role?  In the Robert Walters survey 61% of respondents said once ‘on-board’ they found that their responsibilities did not match the job description.

Focus on clear and simple job descriptions

Employers need to focus on writing clear and simple job descriptions, prioritising the tasks expected of the candidate on a daily basis.  If an employer is seeking a Data Entry Administrator, then state this clearly and explain that this is 90% of what the person’s time will be spent on. By making the role appear different or more complex they are potentially putting off a candidate who is genuinely seeking a Data Entry Administrator position and instead are hiring people who will be disappointed.

Examine the interview process

Next, employers need to examine the interview process.  First impressions count for the candidate as well as the employer. 64% of respondents to the Hays Ireland survey stated that they got a poor impression of an organisation at early interview stage because the organisation seemed unwelcoming.  Company culture is playing an increasing role in candidates’ decision making about joining an organisation.  So, what impression does your organisation give to visitors amongst whom are potential employees?

Some of these statistics do not come as a surprise to me personally, as someone who recently changed job and spent a number of months becoming a little wiser to the recruitment process.  I have first-hand experience of some of these issues.  I am pleased to say that since joining Voltedge Management I have observed how our HR Consultants guide and advise our clients in this regard so that they can avoid the pitfalls.

Roslyn Keogh, Project Manager

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Blue Insurance

Customer Service Executive

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

Senior HR Business Consultant

Other

Property Administrator

Sales Account Manager

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, July 16th, 2018

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

Q: As this period of hot weather continues, what are my responsibilities as an employer?

A: The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 does not set out a maximum temperature for the workplace, only a minimum. However, there is an onus on employers to ensure the safety of their staff so it is important to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace and exercise a common sense approach.

Q: What steps can I take to ensure the health and safety of my staff?

A: Think about shade and those employees who work directly beside windows. Rearranging furniture away from direct sunlight through windows can help. Glass does not protect against all of the suns rays. Think about additional fans in areas with no airflow and most importantly, encourage employees to stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water throughout the working day is vital. Encourage water breaks and allow for employees to get fresh air, stop overheating.

Q:  How can I keep staff motivated during periods of very hot weather?

A: As heat rises, so can absenteeism, commutes to work and a long day in a hot office can have an effect on employee motivation.  Think about relaxing the dress code, no ties, restrictive clothing, suit jackets or blazers. Turn off unnecessary lights, if the sun is streaming in, remember lights generate additional heat so turn some off. Be very mindful of those that work outside, ensuring both protection against the sun and also appropriate rest breaks for physical activity levels.

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

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

AYLIEN

Data and Search Engineer

Blue Insurance

Customer Service Executive

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (Part Time)

Family Support Worker

Respite Services and General Administrator

National Head of Services

PCO Manufacturing

General Operative

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

Senior HR Business Consultant

Other

Junior Account Manager

Property Administrator

Sales Account Manager

 

News from the Courts – Dismissal of Employee Deemed Unfair

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Dismissal of employee who over-dosed on prescription drugs deemed unfair

A recent case, reported in IRN, where a general operative was sent home from work and subsequently dismissed, has been ruled by the Adjudication Officer (AO) of the Workplace Relations Commission to be unfair – due to lack of transparency and failure to follow a fair investigation and a lack of procedure before dismissal.

This employee arrived at work in an unsafe condition, and he didn’t tell his manager that he had taken his drugs over shorter periods than prescribed. Because of this, he was unfit for work. The employee had an injury and was taking prescribed medication for this injury. A decision to send the employee home was only taken after 2 hours in work, after returning from 18 weeks of sick leave.

The General Manager instigated a disciplinary investigation; however, no notes were provided to the employee and his union representative for the meetings held with witnesses, and some of the employee’s evidence was disregarded. Also, other incidents were included in the General Manager’s statement. The union representative was ‘in effect’ disregarded in the process, and the AO stated that the employee is entitled to a reasonable level of representation (citing the Lyons v Longford Westmeath ETB ruling).

The AO ruled that it was not good enough to just hold a disciplinary hearing and a subsequent appeal – and the employee was awarded half of his actual losses of €28,675.

This case again re-emphasises the necessity to follow best practice when undertaking a disciplinary investigation and to ensure transparency and fairness at all times, with the view that the employee is innocent until proven guilty.

News from the Courts – “Reasonable Care” in a Health & Safety Claim by an Employee

Monday, June 18th, 2018

In a recent case an employee issued proceedings against his employer for an accident that occurred during the course of their job. The incident arose when the employee fell and injured his back, while taking a shortcut down a steep slope on his way back from doing a routine check of the reservoir manhole. There was an alternative route to reach the manhole with little or no incline, only 10 or 15 metres away, fact that was highlighted by the employer in their defence.

The employee in question had been with the organisation for some time and referenced other similar incidents of employees who had also slipped at the same area. However, there was no record of these having been reported to the company.

During the hearing there was no evidence found that suggested the company had required the employee to use the steep route, as well as a number of inconsistencies regarding medical examinations of the employee which brought the extent of his injuries into question.

The findings focused section s13 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and made reference to a similar case where the same legal principles could be applied i.e. the application of common sense principles as to what amounts to reasonable care. The conclusion was that the employee had simply failed to take reasonable care for his own safety.

Voltedge Management can offer support, advice and independent investigators if required.  Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call the office on 01 5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, June 18th, 2018

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

Q: Am I legally required to provide a reference to an ex-employee?
A: No, there is no general requirement in law or legislation that you must provide a reference. If you do provide a reference, you have a duty of care to both the subject of the reference and to anyone that might rely on it.

Q: By when must you legally provide an employee with their written terms of employment?
A: The Terms of Employment (information) Acts 1994-2014 provide that an Employer is obliged to provide an Employee with a written statement of terms of Employment within the first two months of commencement of employment.

Q: What happens if changes are made to the particulars contained in the written statement?
A: An employer must notify an employee of any changes to the particulars within one month after the change takes effect. It should be noted that this does not entitle an employer to unilaterally change the terms in the statement, and of course any changes must be agreed with the individual.

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

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, May 14th, 2018

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

Q: When should I report an accident at work to the HSA?

A: The HSA must be notified of all: 1) fatal work-related accidents 2) accidents causing injury that result in the person carrying out work being absent from work or being unable to carry out his/her normal duties, for more than three consecutive days 3) accidents caused as a result of work or work activity, which result in a person who is not at work (a member of the public), suffering a fatal injury or an injury that requires hospital treatment or the attention of a doctor.

Q: When I am calculating three consecutive days, do I consider the weekend?

A: Yes, weekends and other normal days off (such as holidays) are included when calculating the period of absence following an accident.

Q: What is the Health and Safety Authorities’ role in relation to bullying?

A: Bullying has been identified as a safety issue, which means that when an HSA inspector is carrying out a workplace inspection, he/she will examine a business’s safety statement to ensure that the issue of bullying is dealt with. The HSA may also investigate a bullying claim in the workplace.

Q: Do we have to have a trained first aider in the business?

A: Yes. Employers are required by law to designate occupational first-aiders at the workplace as are necessary. The number depends on the size of the business and the findings of a risk assessment. You can find out how many are required in your Business here.

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.

Kate Siberry, HR Executive, Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, April 16th, 2018

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

With the summer (hopefully) and the May bank holiday approaching soon, here are some questions and answers to consider:

Q: Can an employee request a two-week unbroken leave period?

A: Yes, provided they have worked for at least 8 months they are entitled to an unbroken period of 2 weeks’ annual leave.

Q:  What happens if an employee is sick on a public holiday?

A: If you are a fulltime worker who is on certified sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to benefit for the public holiday you missed. If you are a part-time worker on certified sick leave during a public holiday, you would be entitled to time off work for the public holiday provided you worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the previous 5-week period.

However, you are not entitled to the public holiday if you are absent from work immediately before the public holiday and you have been off work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or accident, or for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident.

Q: If an employee comes back from their annual leave and produces a sick cert from their doctor what do I do?

A: If an employee becomes ill during their annual leave and provides a medical cert for the days they were ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. You cannot require an employee to take annual leave for a certified period of illness.

Q: If an employee is off work on certified sick days, are they still accruing annual leave days?

A: An amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 2015 made changes to how statutory annual leave is managed when an employee is on certified sick leave. These changes took effect on 1 August 2015 and include:

  • An employee’s annual statutory leave entitlement continues to build up during a period of certified sick leave.
  • An employee, who due to illness cannot take annual leave during the relevant leave year or the normal carryover period of 6 months, is entitled to an extended carryover period of 15 months after the leave year to take their accrued annual leave.
  • If an employee leaves their job they are entitled to payment in lieu for any annual leave that accrued and was untaken as a result of illness. This payment in lieu only applies if you leave your employment up to 15 months after the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued.

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.

Kate Siberry, HR Executive, Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Monday, January 15th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are on a hiring drive in Frankfurt as global investment banks race to establish new headquarters inside the European Union in time for Brexit.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

News from the Courts: Employee awarded €8,000 for not being allowed an interpreter during grievance hearing

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

A Latvian employee was awarded €8,000 by the WRC as her employer repeatedly refused to allow an interpreter during a grievance process. The employee had claimed they were victimised and harassed by her manager as he had been aggressive towards her one morning in December 2014 over the tidiness of her work area, and had shouted at her several times, which she reported, had shocked her and left her very stressed. The WRC found that while she was not harassed he did highlight that the company’s policy not to allow an interpreter demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the requirements of the [Employment Equality] Acts.

Even at her appeal, she was again denied the use of an interpreter even though she had written to her employer, with the assistance of her interpreter, expressing her disappointment and stating her fear that she “would not be able to explain herself clearly at the meetings and that she would not be able to understand the process and its terminology fully and therefore needed the assistance of an interpreter.
She did acknowledge that she could communicate in English in general terms with no problems but that a grievance process was not the same as daily communications in the work place, as it would involve specific terminology.

While her union representative could not speak Latvian, the employer maintained they had been able to fully represent her at each stage of this process to ensure she had a fair hearing of her grievance, but at the same time had written to her to indicate that she had literacy problems in relation to spoken and written English, and they required her to take a literacy test. The employer indicated that if the result of this test was found to be low, it reserved the right to terminate her contract of employment.

The WRC AO pointed out the contradictory position of the employer, on one hand it doubted her English ability to the point it required her to take a literacy test, and on the other hand maintained her English was sufficient to participate in the grievance process despite her repeated requests for allowing an interpreter.

While employers have a right to enforce a policy of one common language in the workplace, this was not the issue in this case. Preventing an interpreter attend to a grievance procedure regardless of the English ability of the worker, places a non-Irish worker at a significant disadvantage and is indirectly discriminatory. The WRC awarded the complainant €8,000 for the effects of race discrimination, but did not find she was victimised or harassed.

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.

Managing the Christmas Period

Monday, December 5th, 2016

The Christmas period can pose tricky issues to even the most seasoned of managers. Here we cover the key areas that employers might be faced with:

Managing the Christmas Party 

Do our policies apply outside of work?

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

 How can I prevent issues occurring?

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

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

What do we do if we receive a complaint?

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

Managing Public Holidays

Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

 An employee’s entitlement is dependent on the nature of their contact;

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

 What payments are employees entitled to for a public holiday?

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

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

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

How do I calculate public holiday pay? 

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

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

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

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

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

If a Public holiday falls on a weekend it does not automatically move to the following Monday as a lot of people might assume (or Tuesday in the case of Christmas this year). Employers have a number of options:

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

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

Time Off During Adverse Weather

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 lave 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 employee?

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

If you are unsure about what arrangements to put in place in your own business, get in touch today with our team of HR experts.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant