Posts Tagged ‘Workplace’

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

Time Off During Adverse Weather

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Now that the weather is expected to get colder in the coming weeks there is a risk that we might find Met Eireann forecasting snow or even stormy conditions. It is a good time to think about how your organisation is going to manage adverse weather this winter and put in place the necessary policies, communicate them to staff and make plans for working schedules etc.

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

A: 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?

Q: If our place of work is closed due to bad weather, do I have to pay the employee?

A: 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. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, August 28th, 2017

brexit-update-v3There is certainly concern as to how Brexit will affect the close economic and social relationship between Ireland and the UK.

European Movement Ireland recently shared a few interesting stats:
– Dublin-London route is busiest in Europe – 4.5 million passengers in 2015 travelled across the Irish Sea;
– Exports of Irish goods to the UK in 2016 were €13.3 billion that’s down 4%, or nearly €500m from 2015;
– Exports of Irish services to the UK in 2015 were €19.8 billion, while the UK exported €12 billion in services to the UK that year.

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.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, August 21st, 2017

brexit-update-v3According to the latest Labour Market Outlook findings, over one in ten (12%) private sector firms say that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has led them to consider relocation of some or all of their business operations abroad.

Popular relocation destinations among those firms that report they are considering moving their operations overseas include the Republic of Ireland (18%), Germany (15%) and France (13%).

Almost a quarter (24%) say they will move or are considering moving operations to a country outside of the European Union. Additionally, around a third of firms (32%) that plan to relocate some or all of their operations don’t know where business activity will be re-directed.

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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.

5 Simple Tips for Successful Negotiations

Monday, August 14th, 2017

We all use our negotiation skills on a daily basis, from simple encounters we have like negotiating a fee for office supplies to more important relationships with our staff. Getting the conditions right for a positive and progressive engagement is really important in achieving a successful outcome for both parties.

Here are 5 simple steps that should make a difference:

  1. Prepare strategically for negotiations
  2. Generate top down support
  3. Influence and manage change
  4. Create and claim value at the negotiations meeting
  5. Engage as partners and not as opponents

 Prepare strategically for negotiations:

  • Set your strategy for reward – and agree this with the Senior Management Team (SMT)
  • Set ambitious targets
  • Clarify your priorities – again get input from the SMT group
  • Identify your BATNA – Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement , what can be achieved elsewhere if not at this meeting
  • Set your Walk Away Limits
  • Develop multiple bargaining packages
  • Assess the other party

 Generate top down support:

  • Identify the key stakeholders and involve them in the process
  • Establish context for the terms to be agreed and set a shared goal so that there is buy in
  • Communicate the negotiation plan and seek feedback before you get sign off
  • Maintain regular contact and communications with all of the stakeholders though out the process

Influence and manage change:

  • Link the strategy of what you need to achieve to a wider context so that there is a broader understanding of what needs to change
  • Continue to provide ongoing communications with employees through out the process and afterwards to ensure the commitment to the agreement is still there
  • Establish a shared understanding before you start the negotiations, long before you have you meeting

Create and claim value at the negotiations meeting:

  • Get all the issues on the table
  • Uncover interests and priorities
  • Be creative and identify new options and ideas
  • Link the issues and make simultaneous proposals of equitable value
  • Value the creation of trade off’s
  • Get a share of that value
  • Get the tone and atmosphere right – engage as partners

Engage as partners and not as opponents

  • Establish trust and repair any damaged relationships
  • Establish a process and timelines and make sure these are communicated to the stakeholders so that you can set expectations
  • Manage emotions and people’s problems as you progress through the process

Business professionals must know how to negotiate well to successfully close deals, avoid conflicts, and make the organisation a better place to work. Learning the right way to negotiate will lead to a successful outcome. Contact Voltedge Management to find out more about our courses on successful negotiation skills – email info@voltedge.ie or phone the office 01-5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, August 14th, 2017

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

Q: I run a call centre and have a major issue with turnover – how can I improve this and hold onto good employees?

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

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

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

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

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

News from the Courts

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Ex Employee awarded €4,000 for discrimination claim not investigated by the employer.

In a recent Labour Court hearing, a judgement was made awarding an employee €4,000 on the basis that the employer had not taken sufficient steps to address her claim that she was being discriminated against by her fellow work colleagues. She claimed that she had experienced verbal abuse over a short space of time; after having worked with the organisation for 4.5 years, she left her job less than three weeks after first telling her boss about the abuse she suffered. However her claim that she was constructively dismissed was unsuccessful.

The main points from this case were that while the company did send her a copy of the handbook and asked for her to document the complaint so that they could deal with it as per their policy, they had not investigated the claim and failed to take action.

The judge felt that: “It is not, in the Court’s view, best practice for an employer to seek to deal with alleged infringements of the Employment Equality Act 1998 by directing employees to a basic Grievance Policy or a general Bullying Policy.”

He also added: “It is no defence for an employer who has failed to investigate complaints of the magnitude raised by the complainant in this case to seek to justify their inaction on the basis that the complaints were not presented to them in written format.”

“The Court expects an employer to be proactive and, if necessary, to take a statement of the complaint(s) from the alleged target of the discriminatory behaviour.”

Varying a WRC adjudication officer decision from 2016, the Court did find however that the employer did not have an adequate anti-discrimination policy and associated complaints procedure in place.

 

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, July 31st, 2017

brexit-update-v3Euro clearing could stay in the U.K. after Brexit, Irish central banker Philip Lane tells The Times.

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.

How to create an exciting Employee Value Proposition

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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

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

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

So how can we develop or improve our EVP?

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

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

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

Get HR Brexit Ready with Voltedge Management

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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After a successful launch in Dublin of our HR Brexit Ready programme in June with our partners, European Movement Ireland, Ronan Daly Jermyn, Fragomen, Morgan McKinley, we will be visiting Cork and London in the early Autumn, speaking to Business Leaders, HR Professionals and local decision makers from Global Organisations, providing insight and advice on all of the HR related factors that need to be managed to ensure a successful Brexit journey.

We are very interested in hearing from anyone with specific HR Brexit needs, and our team of HR experts, employment law experts, immigration and talent experts are at hand to provide support and advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Email info@voltedge.ie or ring the office (0)1 525 2914.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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.

Axonista:

Experienced Scrum Project Manager

Blue Insurance:

PPC & SEO Marketing Specialist

Joseph Walsh Studio:

Operations Manager

PCO Manufacturing:

Sales Executive – Internet and Phone Sales

Zeeko:

Psychology Researcher – Cyber Specialism for Tech Start-Up

Getting HR Brexit Ready

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Voltedge – in partnership with Fragomen (global immigration specialists), Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors and Morgan McKinley International Recruitment – held a breakfast session on Thursday 15th June. Chaired by Noelle O’Connell, Director of European Movement Ireland, the invitees were given great insight and support in their planning towards Brexit and Beyond.

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With 400,000 Irish people living and working in UK, and 114,000 UK passport holders resident in Ireland, many companies do not realise that they have potential issues looming in terms of freedom of travel, employment issues and real employee concerns over the impact of Brexit on them.

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. Placing Brexit high on the HR Agenda is critical and Voltedge listed some of the key areas businesses need to consider alongside the commercial and economic business issues:

  • Communications: Develop a communication plan for employees, to ensure they are assured of your support and guidance on all personal related issues associated with Brexit, e.g. freedom to travel, family citizenship, pensions and benefits etc.
  • Internal staff dynamic: Includes being understanding of the potential issues and risks that employees may have in relation to colleagues and their political views, Brexit opinions, nationality and citizenship issues.
  • Management Support and Capability: Managers need to fully understand the implications of Brexit and have the training and capability to support employees.
  • Data protection: It is critical that every employer understands the data protection requirements and also the associated risks and challenges that will ensue with the onset of Brexit.
  • Policies: Employers need to review their policies that are impacted by Brexit – such as ‘Diversity in the Workplace’.

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The Brexit journey is an ever changing and challenging one, 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. Ring the office 01-5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business become HR Brexit Ready.

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

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

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

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

The survey gave some very interesting findings as follows:

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

In terms of technology:

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

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

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

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

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

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You can access the actual survey here.

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Workplace Wellbeing Day

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

March 31st marked Ireland’s third National Workplace Wellbeing Day. There was an increased number of companies participating in various events in the workplace this year in both the public and private sectors.

The aim of course was to host events that improved employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace.

Recent research shows that about a ¼ of workers take the recommended level of exercise for a healthy lifestyle each week, and also indicates that companies who support and promote a healthier wellbeing for staff, enjoy greater retention and engagement from their people.

The nationwide campaign aims to help people maintain a healthy balance in their lives so that they achieve their full potential, deal with challenging situations and prioritise the important aspects of their lives, which will help them be resilient and cope better with the demands that they encounter.

The National Workplace Wellbing Day was a great reason to mark the occasion in the workplace with some healthy and fun initiatives.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, March 6th, 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.

Handling personal issues in the workplace:

Q: We have a manager who is experienced and well-regarded. However, recently he seems distracted and has been out of the office a lot, he is missing important meetings, and doesn’t seem to be managing his team well at all. Some of his team are now complaining, as they feel they are being ignored, and the workload is piling up. He has told another colleague that he is going through a rough patch and may be getting a divorce. How do I manage this?

A: Unfortunately, nearly everyone in the workforce goes through a difficult patch personally, sometimes they manage and keep it from disrupting their work, others not so much. In this case, his personal difficulties are seriously impacting on his work, and his performance.

However, given that his is a valued employee, it is important to be supportive – and he may not actually be aware of the impact of his personal difficulties on his work. Have his manager sit down with him and have a private conversation about how he is getting on – how does he feel he is doing? Does he have any issues he needs to discuss? If he is open, then you could offer counselling or refer him to your company doctor. However, it’s important for him to understand that his current behavior is having a negative impact, perhaps he needs a short period away from work to sort things out? You could offer to support his workload for a short period also to get him back to normal. Tackling issues like this early will – in nearly every case – work better for everyone.

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.

So who invited Cupid to the office

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

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

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

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

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

Managing the Probation Period

Monday, February 13th, 2017

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

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

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

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

Key points for successful probation management:

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

Length of the probation period

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

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

Summary

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

Get Help Managing Performance

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

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

 

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, February 13th, 2017

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

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

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

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

The golden rules are:

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

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

Key Trends and Challenges for HR for 2017 and Beyond

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

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

National Minimum Wage Increase

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         1st one third period

·         2nd one third period

·         3rd one third period

 

 

€6.94

€7.40

€8.33

 

 

75%

80%

90%

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

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

 Family Leave Bill

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

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

 Employee Share Schemes

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

 Post-Brexit Opportunities and Challenges for Ireland

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

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

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

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

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

Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant

Managing Mental Health

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Managers are having to manage employees with many different mental health issues and they are held responsible – we reviewed an article by Des McDermott in IRN. Des McDermott is a Barrister and previously worked as a HR Management Consultant.

The Germanwings air crash tragedy highlighted the difficulties in both knowing that, and managing, an employee who has mental health issues. The Germanwings tragedy happened on 24th march 2015 where a co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane. Andreas Lubitz had a history of depression and had delayed the renewal of his medical certificate.

1) Should a person with depression be placed in a position of high responsibility?
Depression affects more than 450,000 people in Ireland at any one time so this is an issue that is near impossible to manage. Depression is being treated much more effectively and the social stigma associated with mental disorders is removing. However, depression can lead to very serious outcomes (including suicide). Some positions need very careful medical assessment to assure the employer that there are no mental health risks.
2) Discrimination: It is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability and a wide range of mental health disorders are classified as disabilities, including stress, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Employers are obliged to make ‘reasonable accommodation’ for staff with disabilities, however an employer is not obliged to recruit, promote or retain an individual who refuses to be available to carry out the duties of the job. Also, and employer who is concerned about an employee has the right to send the individual for medical assessment.
3) Employee’s right to keep their health issues secret: Currently Irish legislation does not require a person to disclose that they have a disability. Employers are strongly advised to use the option of pre-employment medicals and medical referrals, if required, where the employee seems to be having either physical or mental difficulties or a second opinion is required.

Key points for employers:

a) Depression and mental disorders are extremely common and can be managed in many cases very well within the workplace
b) It is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability in employment
c) Employers should make ‘reasonable accommodation’ for staff with disabilities and there is help for employers both in advice and grants
d) However- no employer has to recruit, promote or retain a person in a position if they are not fully competent to do the job
e) As in 3) above an employer has the right to undertake a pre-employment medical and send an employee for a company medical assessment if concerned
f) Confidentiality is paramount
g) The right to privacy is qualified however and the employer has a duty of care to all his/her employees