Posts Tagged ‘Workplace’

Important – Parental Leave Update

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

To ensure you are kept up to date with the latest Government legislation Voltedge is advising you of the following update to Parental Leave.

Parental leave will increase from 22 to 26 weeks effective from the 1st September 2020 per child up to the age of 12.  If a parent has already taken some or all of their previous entitlement they can still take the additional parental leave if the child is still eligible.

This is a good opportunity to review your current handbook and policies to ensure they are fully compliant with all the latest legislation. Contact Voltedge for the most up to date information and advice. Email us at or ring our office 01 525 2914.

Transitioning Back to the Workplace Webinar

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

As the country progresses through a phased re-opening of the economy and society, the return of employees to the workplace has now become a priority for many companies. In a Covid-19 environment, thoughtful preparation and planning are essential to ensure a safe and successful return to work.

The webinar, hosted by Jonathan Healy will provide expert guidance from Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby Jones, Joint Managing Directors of Voltedge, about the steps companies should implement to support the smooth transition of employees back into the workplace.  You will also hear about the range of Enterprise Ireland supports to assist you navigate this process.


Thursday 25th of June 10am – 11am

This webinar will discuss: 

  • The role of the employer in ensuring the continued health, safety and well-being of employees
  • Communicating and engaging with employees around their return to the workplace
  • Resource planning and restructuring of roles and responsibilities
  • Data privacy, security & GDPR.

Who should attend?
This webinar is open to Enterprise Ireland clients and other manufacturing and internationally traded services companies with 10 or more employees.


Podcast: Co-Managing Director Joyce Rigby-Jones chatting with Linda Ward

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Voltedge Co-Managing Director Joyce Rigby-Jones is chatting with Linda Ward, MD at Retail Renewal about how retailers can support their employees and what you need to put in place before you can open the doors to your shop.

This podcast is all about helping retailers to come to terms with the new reality of trading during a pandemic. When can you reopen? What do you have to do before you reopen? What level of turnover can I expect? When will trading be back to pre-pandemic levels? How can I make my customers and staff feel safe?

Linda: So what are the most important steps that people need to take now in terms of retailers going back trying to re-open their stores and thinking about all the things that they have to do? In relation to the staff that they employ, what are the most important steps that they need to take in that area?

Joyce: The most important thing is to look at this as a major continuity plan and put in place a plan and appoint a contact. We are advising all our clients to appoint a Covid-19 Coordinator; that person will take on the role of making sure that the organisation is in tune with what’s happening or that they’re following all the government and HSE advice that’s coming down the line. So the Coordinator is really pushing out information to the employees, keeping them on track, being a point of contact if they have any concerns.

So if an employee is worried about something, they can go directly to this person. In a small retail environment, that’s probably going to be the owner, but in some organisations is going to be a senior person who will take on that role and very much drive it. The really important thing is to make sure that employees know what they’re doing in terms of Covid-19 and how to deal with that in the workplace, and this Coordinator will drive that behaviour and remind them constantly of what is important in terms of the social distancing, the hygiene aspects but also how to deal with each other and customers, as they start going back to work. 

Linda: So before they get to that point of going back to work, what are the three steps, what is the sort of preparation that an employer can do and what sorts of things do they need to be thinking about before they open the doors and before they bring the staff back in?

Joyce: The employer has a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for their employees so it’s vital that they think about this. They should do a risk analysis, they will be putting in all the physical issues and actions that you’ve been going through with them in terms of shields of prospects but really they need to look at the risk analysis if one employee has backup support, have they kept maybe a couple of employees separate so that they are doing either shifts or having people coming in at different times so they’re not in contact with each other, and may want to look at checking their employees’ personal details – do they have their emergency contact person, have they got their correct addresses and phone numbers etc. and also they need to be looking at whether their employees have any issues with regard to coming back to work, perhaps they have an underlying illness themselves or maybe they’re living with someone they have concerns about.

The employer needs to be empathetic about this and actually understand personal situations, so we really need to be very close to employees and understand what’s going on in their personal lives. They may be delighted to come back to work or they may be quite scared so the owner/manager and the Covid-19 Coordinator, whether they’re the same person or not, they really need to be talking to them one-to-one and finding out how they’re going to come back. We have a pre-return to work questionnaire which is a questionnaire just checking if the employees are ready to come back and that they haven’t got any reason not to come back, and that is always important to check out as well. 

Linda: So that is like a questionnaire you’d give out to your employees before they come back to make sure that they’re ready and happy to come back and not suffering from any symptoms presumably? 

Joyce: Exactly. They’re confirming that to you and obviously, on an ongoing basis, you’re going to be checking this with employees but it means when they come back, you know that there is no issues and you are not going to worry about them coming back. 

Linda: And what about any sort of induction training that you need to give staff or anybody that is coming back to work in your organisation?

Joyce: It’s very important that you have a plan of action to ensure that you’re giving them all the information they need in terms of the protocol of return to work which the HSE and the have given. The NSAI also have a very detailed document which goes through this but basically, what we’re trying to do, is reinforce the safe hygiene elements of returning to work but also talking to the employee about whether they need to bring in their own lunches, whether they need to look at how they’re going to get to work because potentially they shouldn’t be using public transport and also things like how do they deal with a customer if they’re in a retail environment, perhaps if they come up too close to them, how do they actually react, what do they do about this; so it’s a practical view as well of the issues that will arise in the workplace when that employee starts back again.

Linda: It sounds like communication is going to be really really important.

Joyce: Communication is key and I think that every owner or manager should be putting a Covid-19 communication discussion on the agenda every single day, so reminding employees what they need to be doing in terms of their own hygiene and also reminding them about what they need to do if customers come in, to say what they need to say to them and also talk to them about any risks or concerns they have, so it’s really a daily issue. Owners shouldn’t assume that employees know this and understand everything; they should assume that they need to be talking to them every single day until they’re absolutely confident that this is just a natural part of our normal working life again.

And I think the other issue is just being careful about how they’re looking at other things like holidays, and this has been a big issue for many employers – what do we do about holidays? We can’t go away, we can’t go to Spain or anywhere else so all the employees who had planned their summer holidays are going to say – well I don’t want to take them because I don’t have anywhere to go. Employers need to have a plan in place that addresses this, so they need to look at potentially asking employees to maybe take a couple of days a month away and also planning for at least a five day break from work in the next few months because we all need a break away even if we are going to be sitting at home, we need that break from work. So planning holidays, looking at the number of holidays that all the employees have, do an assessment, look at what you need to do about this and then start talking to the individuals and tell them that you may not be able to carry holidays to any great extent in 2021, so they need to be aware about this.

Linda: I think that’s true. I think the last weeks have been quite intense in many ways and, just talking personally, I had planned to go away for two weeks at Easter time to see my family and I couldn’t go because I couldn’t travel so I worked through those two weeks but I really miss the break and I really feel now that I haven’t had a break since last September really. I am going to take a break in ten days time and I am going to spend it sitting in the garden reading a book but at least it will be a break from the day-to-day routine and it will be a different way of being in the same place I suppose. I think it’s quite important that people actually do take that time just to be, because it has been a really stressful time for an awful lot of people and a very worrying time; living with uncertainty is not easy. 

Joyce: I totally agree with you, and even though we sort of think – well, if I take a day off, I might just gonna sit at home – well, maybe that’s what you need to do, maybe you just need to relax and do something different; we’ll have some of the shops open again shortly and we need to really be supporting our local retailers as well so maybe we go out and go to the garden centre and do something like that. It is something an employer needs to plan and they need to be talking to the individuals about this.

The other issue that Voltedge was looking at, when we were looking at the whole Covid-19 issue was the Covid-19 Curve and this is a curve that was originally devised for people going through a bereavement or a major grief and it was developed by a lady called Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 and it shows the way we go through different phases when we’re going through a major crisis which we’re going through now, and we start off at the shock phase, which I think we all did way back in February when we heard that this virus was coming, and then we move into some sort of denial and we think it’s not really going to affect me, and then we realise that it is affecting all of us hugely, and then we end up moving into the frustration part of the curve, we maybe have never worked at home before, or maybe we’ve been laid off and we have to sit at home, we’re very worried and really concerned about what’s going to happen to our jobs. Often some people will go deep into a depressive time and feel very low, we’re missing our friends and family, we can’t see our close family and that’s been extremely difficult for employees, so again, employers need to be thinking about this.

We’ve all been through a lot of stress, we all need support, this isn’t a time for being difficult, we all have to help each other. When we’re coming out of the curve though, we’re moving into experimenting and thinking of innovative ways of how we’re going to live and deal with this uncertain world, and we’re seeing wonderful ideas coming through in the retail and other sectors where people are thinking of ways to make sure we can move forward and get used to a different reality. And we will get there, we will eventually get to a stage where this is the new normal and we will be used to it, but it’s interesting, some people will fall backwards, down the curve again, they’ll have a bad day and they’ll feel very low, and it’s up to us to understand that and bring them back up and help them move along the curve.

Linda: I can identify with that. I identify my feelings along that curve too. Just to get back to another practical thing of what retailers need to think about, what should they do if somebody comes in the shop one day and they say ‘I think I might have some symptoms, they might be Covid-19 symptoms but I’m not sure’ – what should the retailer do in that situation? 

Joyce: I think the immediate thing is to refer them to the guidelines in the HSE and they should immediately self-isolate if they think there are genuine risks of a Covid virus case. The employer should be saying to that individual ‘you need to go home, self-isolate, call your GP immediately and talk to them about what happens next’.

Linda: It also really highlights the need for social distancing and all the hygiene measures that there are advised during various protocols and how important they are, and how, if you follow them, they actually do work. There’s still a chance that, even if you have the right protocols in place within your workplace, some of your employees could still be exposed to the virus somewhere else, but if everybody did their bit in trying to keep the protocols in place, then we’re going to minimise the spread of the virus. 

Joyce: Yes and we know that there are lots of businesses that have continued to run the essential businesses and they have managed to control this really well and there is no reason why even a small employer can’t ensure that their workplace is very safe. But it is a constant reminder, it’s constant communication, and if you have a case that arises, that maybe somebody has picked up the virus somewhere else, you’ll have a plan and a risk analysis done so that if Joyce or Linda are going out sick, you have replacements, you have a back-up plan, you’re ready to run with it, so it’s all about the planning, preparation and communication.

Linda: What I’ve been taking from our conversation is the fact that communication and empathy is really important to understand where your co-worker or employee is coming from and to really reflect back to what their concerns are and make sure you address them. Empathy is needed because everybody is in a different situation. Some people might have a difficult home life or they might have a vulnerable person at home, so as an employer, you need to be aware of that and to respect that in a way that possibly pre-Covid we may not have done in quite the same way. 

Joyce: You are quite right, pre-Covid we would have been saying there are GDPR issues, for example that we shouldn’t known a lot of information, we don’t need to know information about our employees, their home lives, but actually, with Covid-19 upon us, this is the time when employers need to have enough information to ensure that they can manage the employee, support that employee, and if it means knowing a bit more about their personal lives than before, that’s what they need to be doing.

So when employees will hopefully be very open and say ‘listen I had difficulty getting into work or I am worried about a vulnerable relative’, that needs to be talked through and it needs to be looked from a risk assessment, but most employees are looking so forward to getting back to work, that it’s something they’re really happy to do and we want to facilitate that, but we have to, as employers, ensure that we are providing a safe and healthy workplace for them to return to.

Linda: And also in terms of it’s going to be safe and healthy for the customers too, because otherwise the customers are not going to come in, if they don’t feel confident that the precautions are in place, then it’s going to be difficult to attract people to come into your store.

Joyce: I think we’re seeing that already. Some stores are really excellent in terms of the way they manage their customers coming in and out and others aren’t and I believe that those stores that are really thinking through this and have good planning in place, they are the ones that are going to benefit from sales because customers will come to them first. And I know myself, even going to different supermarkets, I would be very conscious of the ones that are good and really looking after my health and safety when I go in as opposed to the ones that maybe aren’t so good.

Linda: It’s sort of bringing the whole transnational nature of retail into a very human space.

Joyce: I think so, and it will make us very different in the way that we treat employees and customers and that’s actually not a bad thing, I think it’s really good that we are knowing that we need to be looking after each other more and be much more considerate and careful and that’s a really nice thing so there are good things that will come out of this crisis. 

Listen to the podcast episode here.

The Importance of Having a HR Strategy

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020






We often think that a HR Strategy is something that only large organisations have in place, but that should not be the case. A HR Strategy is critical for all types of business – be it start up, SME or larger corporation. Many studies have shown that companies who have well defined HR practices that align with the company’s business goals achieve greater results, improved financial performance and a more engaged workforce. Companies without a clear people plan are at risk of losing or never creating a competitive advantage. 

There are many different types of HR Strategies, but fundamentally, they are all based on the same principle of ensuring that the organisation can attract, engage, motivate and retain productive employees.  The key to a successful HR Strategy is understanding your business goals and ensuring you develop a clear people plan that will help you deliver the outcomes you need to be successful.

A cohesive strategic approach to attracting, managing and motivating your people will provide better engaged employees and ultimately aid retention. Having an appropriate HR Strategy in place means you are saving significant costs which can include the cost of having disengaged employees in the workplace, increased sickness or absenteeism and the cost of replacing employees. These potential cost savings along with the other benefits, such as increased profits and productivity provide a strong basis for developing a robust HR Strategy.

A good HR Strategy will identify and priorities the interventions that are appropriate to the size of your organisation (small, medium or large), the phase of growth of the business, the company culture and the financial resources available.

Voltedge can help you develop a pragmatic HR Strategy that will be relevant to your business, its industry and culture and will be designed to deliver practical and cost-effective solutions for your people. Call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

So Who Invited Cupid to the Office?

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

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. 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 chat 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 Summer Party. 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 and out of work can wait till after 5pm.

For employers who are concerned about romance in the workplace, particularly where it may be unsolicited it is important to have clear company guidelines and policy in place.  If you need any advice or support on this, Voltedge can work with you on your specific issues and create appropriate interventions to help protect you and your business. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

Coronavirus – What Can Small Organisations Do to Prepare?

Monday, February 10th, 2020

With the real risk of a pandemic affecting Ireland with the coronavirus spreading across countries and borders, SMEs in Ireland will hopefully not be affected but should be aware of the risks and have a plan ready. With no vaccine as yet developed and over 16 countries now affected, Deloitte issued some excellent advice which we have developed to work for Irish SMEs:

  • Have a plan of action ready to implement:

If an employee is potentially infected and needs to be quarantined, you need to consider what to do with all your other employees. Recruiting firm, Indeed recently announced that they are asking all their employees to work from home for 14 days following a potential risk with an international employee – can you plan for this? Obviously if your business is in hospitality, retail or manufacturing this just isn’t an option. However, thinking about potential options to contain the virus is a responsibility all employers need to be thinking about and preparing for. Do you know what hospital near you is capable of providing quarantine if the need arises etc.?

  • Analyse your RISK:

Assess your potential risk – do you have international employees, employees travelling across Europe/Asia, do you have clients/customers who are based in China etc?
By undertaking a risk analysis you will have a good idea if you need a detailed plan of action, and how in depth this needs to be.

Consider your responsibilities to all your employees – your employees will expect that you are an employer who is determined to provide a safe working environment for them.

If you have business with Asia do you have distribution channels that are at risk?

  • Communicate:

Even if your risk as an organisation is VERY small, your employees will really appreciate knowing that you have considered this, and that you have a potential plan should any risk be identified. Don’t assume that your employees know you have this under control – communicate with them and keep channels of communication open.

  • Policy reviews:

Have you considered if your travel policy is sufficient  – companies need to be constantly monitoring WHO and the Department of Foreign Affairs guidelines? You may need to appoint a manager to take this responsibility on.

  • Suppliers:

Have you reviewed all your suppliers and the potential risks? You could find that a small supplier who is critical to your business is actually shipping their products from China – what is the potential impact to your business if there is a delay in your supply chain?

  • Employee Details:

Review the accuracy of your employee details – if you have international or foreign employees do you have the correct next of kin details – are their contracts and visas up to date? Do an audit to ensure that you have accurate information.

A Good Start to 2020 – How to Leverage Productivity and Increase Your Bottom Line

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

2019 saw Ireland move to a virtually full employment status – something we have not seen since the crash of 2008. This puts additional pressure on employers to attract and retain future employees, and engage with our current people, and there is the constant drive to push productivity, and compete effectively in an environment that is more diverse and changing than ever before.

5 tips to help you start 2020 in a positive and effective way

  1. Measurement: Are you measuring productivity, hours of work and general performance? Have a goal early in 2020 to do this – and/or improve on what you are doing.Employees value clear direction so putting objectives and goals in place is a win-win. Consider if you have your employees effectively utilised – are you maximising on their skills and experience? Undertake an assessment of your employees and make sure you are utilising them to their best ability.
  2. Environment: Introduce at least one green/environmentally friendly goal in 2020: All of us are more attuned and aware of the issues of global warming and the threat to our environment, and employers who embrace changes that support this are employers of choice.
  3. Productivity: One of the major issues employers struggle with is absence and time management. Take an objective to review absence and lates, and to be pro-active in managing employees (it’s normally only a small number of employees but others can become demotivated when they see abuse of this).
  4. Diversity: Aim to drive diversity in 2020 – this may be increasing female representation on the Board and/or management teams, but look at your recruitment policy and plans, diversity within your workforce (whether it is gender/race/age etc.) will be beneficial and valuable to all your employees and gives you a bigger pool of talent to attract from.
  5. Age: This is part of diversity -but we really need to plan for an ageing workforce – think about your demographics and start working on a strategy to ensure you can leverage the talent of older, more mature workers – how is this going to be achieved?

Best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2020 – Voltedge is here to help on all the above at any time. Call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

It’s January 2020 – Let’s Celebrate!!

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

A new year, a new decade – what’ s not to celebrate, we made it!

I always reflect at this time of year on what is in store for the next 12 months, what is going to happen or not happen. Magazines, newspapers and websites are full of tips, advice and wisdom to make the next 12 months the best you will ever feel, be and exist. We are constantly being told we need to make changes to our lifestyle, appearance, environment and basically how we live.  So does this mean that every previous year we have not been at our best – can we always be and do better?

Is it not better at this time of year, when it’s dark and gloomy, to look at all the positives in our lives and build on those instead of focusing on the negatives? It’s too easy to get sucked into the latest crazes, fad diets and exercise routines which are very often unsustainable and end up being discarded quickly and simply add to feelings of negativity and failure.

This year look at what’s great in your life, what is working, what makes you smile, what makes getting up in the morning less painful.  Simple things like the smile on your child’s face as they wake up,  meeting your friends for a coffee, your daily walk in the fresh air or challenges such as getting stuck into a work project,  revamping your home, planning your next holiday whatever it is saviour them, make them happen more often and importantly be grateful.

Which is what I’m going to be focusing on this year, being thankful and happy with what I have and endeavour to enhance and grow them. No unreasonable life changes, no negativity and not feeling good enough! I’m going to start a journal, a short daily one which I hope to keep up for the year. Not only will it help focus my feelings and emotions but also my time. And if nothing else will be fun to read back on in years to come.

And we have an extra day this year the 29th of February – make the most of it!! (It’s a Saturday)

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Voltedge Top HR Trends for 2020

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

The working landscape is changing at such a pace with technology advances, the rise of the millennials, societal expectations and workplace disruption that attracting and maintaining employees is becoming more of a challenge.

Voltedge has identified the following trends that we believe are the challenges that employers are increasingly facing going into this new year and decade.  Recognising them and being prepared to confront and respond is going to be core to ensuring ongoing success and growth for all businesses.

1/ Strategic Workforce Planning

This might sound daunting and something that only large corporates do however planning is essential for any business and doesn’t need to be complicated.  Essentially it is matching your business strategy and your future plans with the people you currently employ and will employ into the future.  It is a process that aligns your business needs, challenges and changes to your people strategy.

Voltedge has worked with many clients to develop a methodology to analyse the workforce to identify current and future skills gaps. This provides a clear road map for employee development and the hiring of new talent to ensure alignment with the goals of the business and ultimately the success of meeting those goals.  We get very excited when we see the results of these strategic workforce planning projects come to life over months and years.  If businesses want to retain and gain talent they must be embedding them into the organisation’s strategy and making them an integral part of it.


2/ Diversity & Inclusion

We have read and talked a lot about this over the last couple of years, however we believe this is an area that is going to become increasingly more critical for businesses to have integrated into their culture and policies.  It applies to all types of organisations and the benefits of promoting and encouraging this type of environment leads to a much happier, positive and pro-active workforce.  There are lots of ways to introduce initiatives into the workplace, not only from a legal perspective but also socially and culturally.

It can be challenging, particularly if there are individuals who are finding it difficult to embrace such diversity.  Short training courses can have a very positive impact to build awareness within the organisation such as Diversity in the Workplace and Cultural Differences.


3/ Flex Work Policies

Again not new news but increasingly flexible options are being seen as important and – for some – this is more important than salaries.  Therefore, this is not something that can be ignored if you are a business that wants to retain your employees and attract new talent. Particularly the younger upcoming cohort, the future of the workforce, are insisting on having flexibility whether that is working from home,  flexi-time, unlimited holidays or extended leave. Businesses are now having to rethink some of their terms and policies.  There is often a reluctance based on fear of introducing such policies however it is proven that they motivate the workforce and when employees are “on” they are “on”.

Employee policies and terms can be a minefield, if you are reviewing current ones or thinking of introducing new policies talk to an expert!


4/ Learning and Development

We provide many of our clients with learning and development workshops which are designed around the specific needs of the organisation.  This is so important, as most of us know rolling out generic training to tick a box does not work.  With the Irish talent market squeezed, holding onto good employees is increasingly more difficult.  Offering clear career paths and opportunities will help retain them and supporting their progression with relevant training will not only add benefit to the growth of the business but will motivate and embed the employee into the business strategy and future.  An empowered and engaged employee is productive and loyal.

These are just four areas that will be talking points for all businesses this coming year.  We will be bringing you more as the year goes on and can give you advice and support on any of these to ensure you are prepared. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Contractor loses unfair dismissal case claiming employment rights

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

In a recent adjudication (IRN November 2019) an IT Consultant lost his case of unfair dismissal – he had claimed that he was an employee and had developed a ‘continuous employment’ with the company.

This IT consultant had been working with this company supplying services as an independent contractor commencing in 1998 but claimed that – over time – ‘the relationship morphed into a contract of service’. He was their main IT person when he started providing services, but the business changed and grew, and by 2002, the services he was offering were full-time and he claimed that he was an integral part of the business.

In defence, the company stated that the individual had never been offered a contract of employment, and that they ceased his contract for services in August 2016.

The contractor stated that he took the same Christmas holidays as all the staff and gave all his available working time to the company. He did not sub-contract his work to anyone else, apart from one occasion, and he dealt with issues when he was away and/or on holidays.

He also stated that the cost of a training course was re-reimbursed by the company.

The Company argued that they always paid the individual on the basis of his invoices, and that he was registered for VAT. He had no entitlement to holidays/leave, and that he provided the same service to more than one business. He was not involved in team meetings (although he claimed that he was their main IT person), and never stated that he was an employee, until his services were terminated.

He was also paid a higher rate than any employee and had his own laptop and mobile phone.

The Adjudicator found that this was not a clear case as ‘each employment situation differs, and each case has to be dealt with on the basis of its particular merits, having regard to existing case law’.

In reaching her decision the Adjudicator stated that one of the points that was important was that the individual was paid ‘considerably more’ than the other IT personnel working as employees, and also he was registered for VAT, even thought this was at the request of the respondent. The adjudicator did not accept that there were such changes of significance that fundamentally altered the relationship between the parties.

This is a very interesting case highlighting the need to be very careful in determining a contract for services with a service provider versus a contract of service with an employee.

Voltedge can provide advice and support to employers in working through similar issues. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Looking Ahead to 2020

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

With 2019 drawing to a close, take a moment to look back over what was achieved throughout the year. Were targets met, were they set correctly to begin with? Did your organisation fulfil its commitments to its stakeholders? What were the key learnings around talent?

As the December festivities take hold, take the time to step back and reset. 2020 is a New Year and with it comes unlimited opportunity. Time to set new goals, both personally and within your organisation.

The CIPD HR Practices in Ireland survey 2019 is a valuable document that focuses our attention on the pain points of 2019 and the emerging issues that organisations will face in 2020 and beyond.

The top organisational priorities over the next two years:

  • Talent management
  • Increasing agility/flexibility
  • Leadership development
  • Managing performance

The top HR priorities over the next two years:

  • Employee engagement
  • Coaching for line managers
  • Recruiting and resourcing
  • Culture change

A staggering 84% of organisations experienced skill shortages in the past year, with 43% experiencing voluntary employee turnover. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.8% in November 2019 to remain at the lowest level in almost 13 years, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

As a result, retention and engagement of employees is top of the agenda in 2020.

The survey suggests key strategies for sourcing candidates and growing the talent pipeline:

  • Social media and company website
  • Offering flexible working
  • International recruitment
  • Investment in employer brand
  • Succession planning
  • Offer cross -functional experiences
  • Increasing development opportunities

Finally, well-being at work. Consider how you can help protect your own well-being and also the well-being of those around you in your organisation. Take the time to practice small changes in 2020, that could help improve your own or a colleague’s well-being. Cases of work-related stress are on the rise, particularly related to workload and ineffective management styles. Promoting a culture of work life balance and openness in your organisation can be one way to make positive steps, but can you think of others?

Kate Siberry, Human Resources Consultant

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

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

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

Step 1: How can I prevent issues occurring?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managing Public Holidays

1. Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

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

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

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

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

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

2. How do I calculate public holiday pay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Off During Adverse Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voltedge Management

Are You Suffering from Busy Syndrome?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Today everyone is busy! When you ask someone how they are, they invariably will answer busy. This doesn’t give you any insight into how they are actually feeling because they are probably too busy to spend the time talking to you to tell you. We live our lives in a constant state of doing and if we’re not doing we feel we should be doing so we find something to do. And then we’re exhausted and complain that we’ve so much to do and not enough time – an endless cycle or should I say sprint!

Is all this busyness actually productive and healthy?

We’re on constantly, feeling like we have to react and respond to every message, email and request instantly. This means we are not focusing on ourselves and our own goals and plans and therefore our own productivity is lessened.  It also means we are not spending enough time doing the things we really want to or with the people we really care about. We jump from one activity to the next in the workplace, at home and often they are only half completed as a result which leads to more stress and dissatisfaction.

“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” ~ Tim Ferriss

So, what can we do to help cure this syndrome?

 1/ Have a plan and priorities

Write down all the things you have to do, or think you have to both in and out of work and ask yourself:

  • What would happen if I didn’t do it?
  • Does it need to be done today, tomorrow, this week/month/year?
  • Am I doing it for me or someone else?
  • What is the outcome of my doing it?

And then cut your list of the items that really don’t matter and prioritise the things that do. Make a plan to complete them in a timeframe and continue to build the list so you are always focusing on the stuff that matters. Include time out, walks in the park, cinema trips, meeting up with friends and family as these are things that will really put a smile on your face.

2/ Be aware of time

Value time and you are less likely to spend it in mindless busyness. Be conscious of how you are spending it, you will never get it back so don’t waste it. This mindset is difficult to learn but once you learn to treasure it you will start to live it fully.

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Simple things like reading while waiting for appointments or sitting in a queue, listening to audiobooks or podcasts in the car or while cleaning the house, getting out for a walk or a workout at lunchtime – get creative with time and you will get more done.

 3/ Apply the 80-20 rule

The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Find out where your 20% should be focused, which efforts and activities are yielding 80% of your desired outcomes and making you happy and which 20% are causing your problems and unhappiness. If you can identify these, you can begin to eliminate your inefficiencies and build on your strengths.

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

4/ Empower yourself

We often complain about being too busy, we become a victim to it and it then becomes a mindset.  We need to make a conscious decision to break that pattern and make changes, empower yourself.

5/ Rest and Sleep

With our 24/7 lifestyles and always on culture, sleep is becoming a luxury for many people.  We all know how important it is, how we can’t function mentally, physically and emotionally to our full capacity without it.  Don’t let your busy schedule impede on a good night’s sleep.  Turn off the phone, say no and rest.  Your time awake will be much more productive.

And especially at this time of year with end of year targets, social events, the intense pressure to create the most perfect Christmas along with all the other things we feel we need to be doing, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what’s important.

Next time you are asked how you are don’t say Busy answer with how you are actually feeling!

If you need help with time management, goal setting or planning contact Voltedge on 01 5252914 or email to find out about our learning and development courses.

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

World Mental Health Day

Monday, October 14th, 2019

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

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

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

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


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

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Employment Status – The Importance of Getting It Right

Monday, October 14th, 2019

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

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

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

How to determine if an individual is an employee:

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

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

 How to determine if an individual is self-employed:

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

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

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

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

What Are Employers Really Concerned About For The Year Ahead?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019


The Voltedge Management team of HR Consultants, Associates and support staff had a most enjoyable afternoon in the company of the CIPD Ireland Director Mary Connaughton at our recent Quarterly Off Site. It was a great opportunity for our team to discuss and explore the broad range of People Management topics that are coming up as particular important for companies.

Our team of experienced HR Professionals working across all sectors with both Irish and International clients get to see first-hand, the drivers and enablers that are so key to business success. We recognise the challenges experienced by leaders and people managers, and their need to juggle the commercial and talent management requirements while at the same time build high performing teams across all areas of the business.

This CIPD briefing and analysis of their 2019 survey was a very timely and worthwhile opportunity as Voltedge maps out our plans for the final quarter of 2019 and review of our range of services including Recruitment Management, Onboarding & Engagement, HR Compliance & Best Practice, Wellbeing & Healthy Workplaces and Management & Leadership Development.

And as we get ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for 2020, this event provided us with the chance to really look and reflect on what it really is that employers and companies are concerned about for the year ahead.

The results of the CIPD HR Practices in Ireland 2019 survey threw up some very topical agenda items that we also witnessed in the support needs of our clients. Topics such as Skills & Retention, Gender Pay Gap, Diversity and Inclusion, requests for more Flexible Working models, Health Wellbeing and Mental Health etc.

Here are a few of the highlights worth looking at again and building into your plans for 2020.

























This is a good time to look at planning and budgeting for the future needs of your talent. Remember to get in touch and talk to any one of our experienced HR Specialists to assist you map out your requirements and align your people strategy with your business strategy. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, October 1st, 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 an intern and how should they be treated in the work context?

A: In the absence of any definite guidelines, the terms and conditions of internships vary considerably from business to business. However, all employers need to be aware that, depending on the circumstances of the internship and the actual nature of the engagement/work being undertaken, there is a risk that the intern may be found to be an employee. As a rule of thumb, a genuine internship will generally be for a relatively short period of time and the intern will be engaged mostly to “observe/train” rather than actually work.

QDo I need to give my intern a contract, seeing as they are not an employee?

A: When engaging an intern, ensure you have a written agreement with the intern, setting out the terms of the internship. This document should state the parties’ expectations of the internship and set out certain basic terms around training, mentoring and feedback. This document should confirm that the purpose of the internship is to give the intern an opportunity to learn about the business and should confirm that the intern is not an employee.

Q: Should the intern be given any other documents when they start?

A: Yes, the intern should be made aware of the company’s policies and procedures handbook that will be applicable during the placement. For example, the intern should be made aware of the organisation’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment policies. Similarly, they should confirm that they will abide by the organisation’s requirements with respect to confidential information. The employer should note that the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 apply to all parties in the workplace, and not just employees.


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 or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

The Art of Resilience

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Resilience can be defined as our ability to bounce back from set-backs and to cope with a difficult or stressful time.  It is often believed that we are inherently resilient or not so, however resilience is an active process and can be developed.  Everyone is different, we react and respond in different ways to traumatic and stressful events in our lives.

In the workplace, the more resilient people will be better able to deal with the demands placed on them, heavy workloads, challenging environments and change.  The less resilient often struggle with these which manifests itself as stress, ill health both physically and mentally and the inability to perform to their highest potential.

There are lots of ways to develop resilience and create habits that will increase the ability to perform under pressure both in the workplace and in life in general.  Step forward and deal with your problems and meet the demands of daily living, and also step back to rest and reenergise yourself.

Here are some ways to help build resilience and cope better with the stresses of life:

Don’t overthink it – what’s the worst thing that can happen is a good question to ask yourself when faced with something traumatic, stressful and out of your comfort zone.  There is always something worse and you have probably overcome worse in the past.

Stay connected – Relationships with friends, colleagues and family should be nurtured. Don’t withdraw when things are tough, talk and accept help from those close to you.

Set new goals – Develop realistic life goals for guidance and a sense of purpose. Do things that bring meaning to your life, creating one that feels good on the inside not one that just looks good on the outside.

Look after your health – Exercise regularly, eat well and sleep! Taking better care of your health will make you more confident, agile and fit – both inside and out.

Practice optimism – Make your thinking work for you, a positive outlook will help make you more resilient by focusing on the good rather than the bad.

Celebrate success – At the end of every day take some time to review what went well and give yourself a pat on the back. This helps train the mind to look for success rather than dwelling on negativity.

Express your emotions – Have open channels to express your feelings and emotions and ease tension. Mediation, keeping a journal, talking – are all ways of taking control and acknowledging how you are.

Be imperfect – We all have flaws and imperfections, accept them and work with them.

Learn lessons – Let go of asking “why me?” and instead focus on the positive lessons you can learn from your experience.

Learn from experience – Instead of focusing on the “why me?” focus on the positive lessons learnt.

Laugh – It is the best medicine!

Voltedge Management delivers Resilience Workshops to organisations providing an opportunity to develop and understand the need for resilience in a team and demonstrates the benefits to the business. Just email us on or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

B2B Networking HR Seminar Presented by Voltedge Management

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019


Save the Date: B2B Networking HR Seminar presented by Voltedge Management

Date: Tuesday 17th September 2019

Venue: IADT Campus, Deansgrange 

Time:  6.00pm – 8:00pm

Some of the subjects covered in this seminar will be: new developments in case-law and dealing with social media, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace effectively.

If you wish to book a spot, please email

Are You a Family-Friendly Employer?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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 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 or ring the office (0)1 525 2914.

Get HR Brexit Ready with Voltedge Management

Monday, July 17th, 2017












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 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.


Experienced Scrum Project Manager

Blue Insurance:

PPC & SEO Marketing Specialist

Joseph Walsh Studio:

Operations Manager

PCO Manufacturing:

Sales Executive – Internet and Phone Sales


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.












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’.












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 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


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









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 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 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.


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 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 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











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