For organisations that require face-to-face, on-site HR support, we provide the services listed below, which have been categorised into five distinct components. Depending on the level of your requirement, we do this by either putting HR specialist(s) ... Read More »
Monthly Archives: June 2013
In this era of increased employee litigation the Labour Court has thousands of cases waiting to be heard - In a huge number of these cases the employer will end up paying substantial sums in compensation to employees (or former employees). In a lot of instances the award will be made as a result of the employer failing to follow appropriate procedures when dealing with an employee.
Unfortunately, the onus is on the employer to prove that he or she acted in a fair manner - the motives behind his or her decisions will be scrutinised. Everything must be justified.
On a daily basis we hear of Unfair Dismissal cases succeeding - the rulings are regularly shocking... even to Irish Employment Law professionals. We see employers being forced to pay huge sums due to the occurrence of harassment/bullying - often the employer is not even aware that such an activity is taking place - yet it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that this type of situation does not arise in their workplace.
A recent example of harassment in the workplace occurred in a fast food company in Blackpool, Cork where two employees were subjected to sexual harassment by another employee.
An Equality Tribunal ruling found that a lesbian couple, who both worked for a fast food restaurant in Cork, were forced to endure obscene remarks and queries about their relationship and sexuality from another employee at the branch.
The tribunal found that management at the restaurant failed in their duty to take the appropriate steps to protect the women and consequently were instructed to pay €15,000 to the couple.
Under Irish Employment Legislation it is the duty of the employer to provide a workplace that is safe for lesbian women and gay men to be open about their sexuality.
This is something that all employers need to pay close attention to - this kind of sum could sink a small company - we heard yesterday that Ireland's economy is receding again - We know the whole area can seem like a minefield but companies simply can't afford to be careless when it comes to employee related matters. It is crucial to keep on top of the regular updates in Legislation.
Did yo know that parental leave has recently been increased from 14 to 18 weeks?
Did you know that Maternity, Adoptive and Health and Safety Benefits are taxable as of 1st July 2013?
The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) is carrying out inspections in Irish workplaces and imposing fines where employers are in breach of Irish Employment regulations.
The employer is legally required to have contracts of employment in place with all employee who have accrued 2 months' service - employers also need to have employee handbooks in place.
Without employment documentation and clear and appropriate policies and procedures in place the company is not insulated against the risk of a fine - many employers are exposed at the minute and need some guidance to ensure they are protected in the future.
We are Irish Employment Legislation specialists and are offering complimentary consultations/audits to employers in Ireland who feel that they would benefit from a meeting with one of our HR specialists.
Do not hesitate to leave us your details and we will be in touch shortly to arrange a complimentary (no-strings-attached) audit of your documentation or just a general consultation that will hopefully help your understanding of employer responsibilities. Read More »
Constructive dismissal is the term used when an employee terminates his or her employment based on the conduct of the employer. Unfair dismissal is slightly different in that unfair dismissal cases arise when the employee feels as though he or she has been dismissed by the employer on unfair grounds.
Unlike in an unfair dismissals case where dismissal is deemed to be unfair unless proven otherwise and justified by the employer - in constructive dismissal instances the onus is on the employee to prove that their resignation was based on poor employer conduct. Employees claim constructive dismissal/unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007.
If it is found that the employee has been unfairly dismissed he or she could either be awarded compensation for the loss of earnings suffered by the dismissal or could be placed back in their original role – However, this is not common practice due to the expected tension or strained relationship between employer/employee and due to the amount of time that is likely to have lapsed between the termination of the employment contract and the resolution of the case.
Typically, an employee needs to have accrued 52 weeks’ continuous service with the employer. However, it is crucial for the employer to bear in mind that 52 weeks’ continuous service is not always an essential element. Employees dismissed for trade union membership or because they are pregnant/exercise their right to parental leave, for instance, do not have to have accrued 12 months’ continuous service prior to claiming unfair/constructive dismissal under the Acts.
If the employer acts unreasonably towards the employee or breaches the contract of employment (or demonstrates that they no longer intend to adhere to the terms and conditions outlined therein) then the employer is at risk of a claim under the Acts.
It is important for employers to be aware of everything that occurs in their workplace as even other employees’ behaviour that goes unchecked by the employer could contribute to a constructive dismissal case.
Read More »
In a competitive job market compensation and benefits take on an even greater level of significance. Unfortunately, the management of such benefits can also take on an added level of complexity.
The HR Company takes the complexity back out. We take the guess-work out of decision making by surveying the marketplace and keeping you informed.
We take the headache out of administering compensation and benefits by providing you with a variety of specialised back-office services. These include everything from processing pension and medical plans to managing and organising your company’s Organisational Health Index.
Here is a list of some of the services we offer to assist companies with their compensation and benefits management:
•Pension/medical membership processing
•Salary survey, planning & administration
•Salary/Bonus/Stock system processing
•Company Car policy management
•Mortgage application processing
•Maternity/Parental Leave benefits
•Advise on, manage and organise annual Benefits and Expo & Health Awareness Programme
•Manage & organise company OHI
•Manage Outplacement Programme
•Tailored generation of reports & statistics
If you require guidance or support with benefit and compensation administration then look no further than The HR Company.
Read More »
We provide a virtual employment law service over the phone and on email. It entails making sure your business is compliant at all times. We issue contracts of employment, handbooks, handle disputes, issue warning letters and basically offer a 24/7 helpline. We provide an unlimited service with regard to any issues in the workplace.
We are a long established Irish owned ‘HR Compliance’ Company, specialising in Employment Law and Legislation, we are based in Sandyford, Dublin with 23 staff.
We support small to medium sized companies in ensuring that your business is compliant from an employee perspective, therefore keeping you legal. We protect you and act as your eyes and ears on all Irish Employment Law issues.
The Cost of the service is €99+vat per month up to 30 employees and thereafter €3.50 for each additional employee minimum subscription of 1 year.
There is a once off set-up administration fee of €200 +vat. This is normally issued via cheque.
In summary, we support associations by providing you with customised and personal advice on any Employment Law issues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
· We handle all Grievance Issues in the work place
· We manage all work associated with reducing working hours and any redundancies
· We interpret all employment legislation where we deliver all Disciplinary recommendations, we will even write the disciplinary letters for you. These will be customised, we do not work with samples or templates. What you will receive on email will be the final document, you will not have to make any edits or changes
· We will guarantee you are NERA compliant
Did you know? - That NERA inspectors are currently carrying out investigations to ensure that businesses are compliant with employment law legislation and that labour inspectorates have the right to request access to employment records such as, Hours of Work, Public Holiday Benefits, Annual Leave, Wage Sheets and Legally Compliant Contracts.
Non compliance can result in fines ranging from €650 to €1,900 depending on the offence with a proposal currently in place for the maximum fine to be increased to €5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months and summary conviction or a maximum fine of €250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years and indictment.
· We will answer any question of employee legislation ie what rights does an employee have under the Maternity leave act/Parental leave act/Force Majeure/Compassionate leave/Part-Time / Casual workers and their rights!
· We will manage any conflict in the organisation
· We manage Bullying & Harassment in the workplace
· We handle all Performance Issues and provide recommendations on what to do.
· Negotiation with Trade Unions
· Dealing with the LRC (Labour Relations Commission)
· We will issue all contracts of employment and email to you, these will be customised and again not samples. Every time you hire new people, you just let us know and we will have a Contract of Employment for them within 24 hrs.
· We will write an Employee Handbook specific to your business, we do not use ‘one suits all’
Your dedicated account manager is available to your for advice and support on all HR issues whenever you need to ask a question.
Why not get your HR documents audited by one of our specialists free of charge and avail of a complimentary 1:1 (no obligation) Irish Employment Legislation consultation at your premises?
In this extrememly litigious era where employees know their rights insulate your company and treat yourself to peace of mind by availing of our free consultation -
Please note all our legal documents ie Contracts of Employment and other documents are all copyright protected and will be issued in PDF format onlyRead More »
The issue of age discrimination has become a significant one in Ireland in this extremely litigious era – it is imperative that employers are very careful in all they say, write and do in relation to age if they aim to avoid a discrimination claim.
Discrimination is defined as the treatment of one person in a less favourable way than another person in a comparable situation on any of the nine specific grounds. It covers not only current and past discrimination but also discrimination that may exist in the future or is imputed to a person.
The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 prohibit discrimination in employment based on a person’s age as well as eight other grounds (gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community). The Equality Authority, in some instances, will provide assistance to individuals who feel as though they have been discriminated against in their employment.
The Equality Tribunal is charged with investigating alleged discrimination on any of the nine grounds and ensures the relevant employment legislation is implemented correctly. The Equality Tribunal can enforce a means of redress or compensation in favour of the employee.
Discrimination based on age commonly occurs at the recruitment stage and in the course of the interview and selection process. The Acts outlaw discrimination in job advertisements and therefore employers need to be extremely careful when drafting such advertisements. An employer cannot seek a “young and dynamic employee” as this excludes several candidates who are not “young” – all interested parties should have equal right to be considered for the role. Similarly, employers should not make it compulsory for applicants to provide their age or date of birth when applying for a job.
It is also frequent in the area of promotion or in redundancy scenarios. An employee cannot be made redundant in order to make way for a “younger” employee.
Employers are entitled to implement certain policies under the Acts, for instance, an employer may set a minimum age requirement (not more than 18 years of age) for potential applicants for a job. The employer can also set a compulsory retirement age but this must be clear and fair for all employees based on their role.
In relation to retirement ages an employer should have a policy in place that covers this. He or she should ensure that the compulsory retirement age is referred to in the contract of employment as well as including a very detailed description of the policy in the company handbook – employees should be required to confirm in writing that they have read and accept the employee handbook.
A Retirement Policy should, at a very minimum, confirm the age at which employees must retire. It should also include a timeline detailing what happens in the run up to the retirement date. For instance, when the employee should expect to be advised of their precise retirement date and details of who they should expect to receive this information from.
Some employers will provide that a member of the HR department meets the employee who is set to retire in order to discuss items like outstanding annual leave, handover procedures, return of company equipment, how any benefits or benefits-in-kind may be managed (a company car, for example, if applicable).
Some companies will also assist the employee who is retiring by providing a pre-retirement course in advance of their departure or by discussing pensions and other financial matters with the individual. It could benefit the employee to meet with a financial advisor in the run up to the employee’s retirement - this is something that the employer could provide. If the employee offers this the option to meet a financial advisor (or similar) it should be detailed in the employee handbook.
The effective management of the retirement process will support the employee in the final stages of their employment with the company and will protect the employer by enabling the appropriate transfer of valuable knowledge from the departing employee to the company.
Companies may offer a fixed-term contract to a person over the compulsory retirement age but there is no obligation on them to do so.
Often the Tribunal finds in favour of the employee in cases relating to discrimination in the workplace, however, one notable age related case was dismissed by the Equality Tribunal when evidence that the employer had an established policy with regard to retirement age and had included retirement age in the contract of employment was provided.
The relevant case decision number is DEC-E2012-086.
Mr. X argued that his former employer had discriminated against him on the basis of age when he was forced to retire at the age of 65. Mr. X had worked for his employer for more than 10 years prior to turning 65. Mr. X, along with his colleagues, were informed of his departure date via e-mail when an invitation to a social event to mark Mr. X’s retirement was sent out.
Mr. X did not want to retire and argued that he was being directly discriminated against on the basis of his age. The employer refuted Mr. X’s allegation and argued that the retirement age of 65 was a “clear term and condition of the contract of employment of employees and a long-standing custom and practice”.
Mr. X’s claim failed as the Tribunal found that his former employer had a “well established practice of retiring its employees” at the age of 65. In certain instances employees who were over 65 were re-engaged on fixed-term contracts for project purposes but that wasn’t the case in all circumstances and it was not the case with Mr. X.
It was an interesting determination from an employer perspective.Read More »
Lots of difficult situations present themselves for employers on a regular basis - The HR Company aims to assist employers with their challenging role by giving pratical advice on all HR related activities -
One of our consultants was asked a question by an employer about redundancy -
Unfortunately, with the recent economic climate, my business simply doesn't justify eleven employees anymore. Things have become very quiet for us and I am struggling to make ends meet. I feel I need to get down to approximately seven employees to ride-out the downturn. What is the process that I should follow in order to stay compliant in this situation?
The HR Company advice:
Many companies are finding themselves in similar situations in this economy. Initially, the owner should determine if this quiet period is one that is expected to be short term or longer term. If the quiet period is expected to be for a few weeks or months the owner should consider placing employees on reduced working hours or possibly laying off some staff for the short term.
Alternatively, if the business cannot sustain the number of employees they currently hold, then redundancies will need to be considered. All other avenues should be exhausted prior to making the decision to make positions redundant. There is a strict redundancy selection process that has to be followed when making job roles redundant. Remember that it is the role that is made redundant rather than the employee – One cannot make an employee redundant and then hire a replacement in their role the next day.
Common employer pitfall:
If a business does not engage with introducing any of these measures with employees in the correct way, the employee may leave the company (i.e. if on a short working week or on lay-off) and claim Constructive Dismissal which could see the employee awarded a large sum. If the correct redundancy process is not followed a former employee may make a claim of Unfair Dismissal or Unfair Selection for Redundancy which can run to high costs for your business in the long run.
Read More »
The HR Company aims to assist employers by giving guidance on all HR related topics - here we advise on what to do when theft is suspected in the workplace: Request for guidance from employer: I know somebody in my staff is stealing money from th... Read More »
Many businesses are at risk from within. The climate has never been more litigious. This is not just hearsay. The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) is estimated to have over 50,000
cases on its books. Our estimate is that up to 80 percent of Employers will end up paying out.
Because Employers make mistakes in how they deal with employees. You can't just call
someone into the office and tell them they're dismissed or subject to a disciplinary measure.
We've had cases where a business owner has erupted in a fit of temper and told slacking
employees to go home and never come back. That's a recipe for Employer disaster.
Some - not all, I hasten to add - employees are watching their opportunity. Ninety-nine times out of 100, it's nothing personal - they're just looking for a way to replace income caused by falling rates and hours. Job prospects are slim out there and they don't see much light at the end of the tunnel. So if they can use you to make up the shortfall, they might take the opportunity.
How do you insulate yourself from the risk of paying out thousands of euro in a claim? Here are some tips to take on board:
Be compliant. The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) is the governing body for employment rights. To be compliant, you must have all your processes in order, right from the terms and conditions onwards. The process of becoming compliant takes you through the many steps along the way. Also, compliance ensures you won't ship a painful fine from NERA.
Understand that, when it comes to employment issues, process is king. You cover yourself by following process. Document what you have done, tell people why you've done things, follow correct disciplinary procedures - those are the nuts and bolts of the matter. Many business owners ride roughshod over the whole area of procedures. They are very vulnerable.
If you don't know employment law inside out, find someone who does. It will cost you money to get the expert advice you need, but the cost of taking a chance can be multiples more. Observe the legislation.
Redundancy is a minefield if you take chances. You must remember that employees now know their rights better than ever before. They have lived through a time when friends, family and work colleagues have been laid off. They have picked up a great deal of information about their rights. We say to Employers "your employees know their rights - do you?" Some businesses are now facing into a second phase of redundancies. In that instance, you can be guaranteed that staff know their rights better than they did for the first phase. If you don't follow process, if you make a false move, it could cost you.
Redundancies are required to keep a business viable. Make your decisions based on what's best for the business - not because you want to get rid of Danny the storeman who you feel hasn't done a tap for years. Before making people redundant, look at the business overall and see what areas are suffering a downturn, what areas are picking up, and how best you should react to changed circumstances.
A Selection Matrix will help to clarify your thoughts and take the personalities out of the decision - and also
ensure that no-one can accuse you of using redundancy simply to take out people you don't like. As a business owner or manager, you are entitled to make decisions that make business sense. So establish the logic of any decision before you make it.
Read More »
Effective from 1st July 2013, anyone who has not yet paid, or started to pay, their applicable local property tax (LPT) will have the option to have it deducted from their payroll (or occupational pension) available to them. Those who fail to submit their LPT return or fail to meet the relevant payment obligations will have mandatory deduction at source from salary or pension imposed.
Employers and occupational pension providers alike will be obliged to ensure this facility is available to employees from next month.
If property owners are availing of the option to have their applicable LPT deducted at source Revenue will notify the employer/ pension provider via the P2C (employer copy of the tax credit certificate in respect of the individual employee).
The relevant sum is to be deducted from the employee’s net pay.
The employer is to commence deducting the LPT once he or she has received the relevant P2C (but not prior to July 1st 2013). The P2Cs are due to be issued to employers by mid June. The LPT to be deducted should be illustrated at the bottom of the P2C. The deductions are to be made, on a consistent basis only, over the 6 month period between July and December 2013. If the employee is paid weekly then the LPT deduction should be made weekly and if the employee is paid monthly then the deduction should be applied monthly.
For example if the LPT to be deducted is €300 then an employee who is paid weekly will see €300/26=€11.538 deducted from their weekly net salary (Any rounding should be in favour of the employee) - If an employee owing €300 is paid monthly then he or she is due to pay €300/6=€50 on a monthly basis. Any refunds of LPT will be dealt with by Revenue – Employers are not to make any refunds of this kind.
If the employer receives the P2C detailing LPT after the July payroll has run then the total LPT should be deducted from August through December - the remaining 5 month period.
Employers will have to keep a record of the applicable LPT that they deduct for Revenue and will be required to account for the figures on the Forms P30 and P35 in respect of the employees concerned. The employer will also have to record the appropriate LPT data for employees on their payslips as well as P60’s and P45s.
Where there is a Court Order on file prior to the issuance of the P2C this will take precedence over the LPT deduction. However, if the P2C is issued prior to a Court Order being made then the LPT deduction will preside. Where the Court Order and P2C are issued or made effective from the same date the Court Order takes precedence. The LPT payment, however, takes precedence over all non-statutory deductions.
The Employer/Pension provider cannot take an instruction from the employee to stop deducting LPT from his or her salary – the employer is obliged to deduct the applicable LPT until the P2C shows that no further payment is due. If an employee would like to pay the relevant tax via a different method he or she should contact the LPT Branch and make these arrangements – then the employer will be issued with an updated P2C telling them to stop the deduction from pay/pension. Similarly if the employee feels as though there is a discrepancy in the amount of LPT they are being charged he or she should discuss this with the LPT Branch and if an adjustment needs to be made to the P2C then a revised directive will be issued to the employer.
According to Revenue “Where there are shortfalls due to insufficient net salary in a particular pay period(s) the employer should adjust the amount of LPT to be deducted per pay period (for the remaining pay periods in the year) to ensure the full amount of LPT is collected by the end of the year. Once this is done, the employer will not be required to notify Revenue about the shortfall. However, employers must notify Revenue in writing (e.g. by Secure Email to employersLPT@revenue.ie) where there will be insufficient income to satisfy the employee’s full LPT liability for the year, based on the expected income for the employee.”
Revenue has established a helpline for employers and pension providers alike to assist with their queries on how this LPT deduction at source will operate.
The Employer Helpline is 1890 25 45 65.
Read More »