Sunday, 13th October 2019
Developing Stories
  • The HR Company

    The HR Company

    Across Ireland and Europe we're keeping you up-to-date with the latest HR News

  • Light at the end of the tunnel

    Light at the end of the tunnel

    With over 20 Consultants, we are Ireland's choice for quality HR support

  • Understanding your needs

    Understanding your needs

    We provide Human Resource information and advice tailored specifically to your business...

  • Dedicated Service Manager

    Dedicated Service Manager

    Your very own HR expert at the end of the phone provides a cost effective solution to your HR needs...

Latest HR News

Bank Holiday Pay and Entitlements

With the October Bank Holiday weekend fast approaching we thought you might find some information on Public Holidays and the relevant employer obligations/responsibilities around pay useful!

There are nine Public Holidays in Ireland each year - they are:

Public Holidays, Bank Holiday PayNew Year's Day (1 January)

•St. Patrick's Day (17 March)

•Easter Monday (Changes every year)

•The first Monday in May, June & August

•The last Monday in October

•Christmas Day (25 December)

•St. Stephen's Day (26 December)

Here is a breakdown of the statutory outline of Public Holiday Entitlements under Irish Employment Legislation:

Did you know that employees scheduled to work on a Public Holiday are entitled to an additional day's pay for the day?

For instance, let's take “Employee A” as an example – “Employee A” works on the day the Public Holiday falls - let's say “Employee A” is a retail store employee and is required to work on St. Stephen's day as it is the first day of the store's seasonal sale - On a normal working day “Employee A” earns €100.

This means that “Employee A” is entitled to receive the usual €100 for the hours worked on the Public Holiday as well as an additional €100 - So “Employee A” receives €200 for working on the Public Holiday. If there is any ambiguity in ascertaining what an additional day's pay should
equal the employer should look at the last day worked prior to the Public Holiday.

“Employee B” represents an employee who is normally scheduled to work on a day that a Public Holiday falls but is not required to work on that day (for example - an administrative assistant in a bank who typically works 09:00-17:00 Monday – Friday, who is not required to work on
Easter Monday).

“Employee B” should receive their normal day's pay for that day as well as not being required to work on the Public Holiday. On a normal working day “Employee B” receives €200. When a Public Holiday falls “Employee B” will not be required to work on this day as the business is closed. “Employee B” will still receive their normal day’s pay.

Public holidays, Bank Holiday Pay

The one that can cause the most confusion is the case of “Employee C”

Employees who are not normally scheduled to work on the Public Holiday will receive one-fifth of their normal weekly pay for the day. “Employee C”, for instance, works Wednesday – Friday and receives €100 per day in remuneration. If a Public Holiday falls on a Tuesday, even though “Employee C” never works that day he or she still has the right to benefit from the Public
Holiday in some way.

“Employee C” is still entitled to be paid a certain amount as a benefit for the Public Holiday (one-fifth of their normal weekly pay). If this employee earns €300 per three day week (Wednesday-Friday) they are entitled to earn an additional €60 during a week where a Public Holiday falls on a Monday or Tuesday.

The above rules will apply for all Public Holidays.

Read More »

Maternity, Adoptive and other forms of leave from Employment

Paid leave of absence for mothers, whose babies are born through surrogacy arrangements, falls outside the scope of the law.

In September 2013 The European Court of Justice found that an Irish teacher (Ms. Z), whose child was born through surrogacy, did not have an automatic right to either paid Adoptive Leave or Maternity Leave from her employment.

When Ms. Z’s application for paid Adoptive Leave was denied she brought a complaint to the Equality Tribunal. The woman, who has no uterus as a result of a rare medical condition, claimed that she was discriminated against on the grounds of sex, family status and disability.

Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave

The woman was told by her employer that she could take unpaid parental leave instead of the requested Adoptive Leave; however, as the child was genetically hers and her name was on the American birth certificate, Ms. Z felt that she was being treated unfairly.

The surrogacy scenario can be a challenging one for all concerned and blurred lines surrounding what mothers are entitled to in the workplace just adds to the complexity of the situation.

The Equality Tribunal referred the case to the European Court of Justice which found that the woman did not have any automatic right to Adoptive Leave.

The legal opinion of the Advocate General stated that her differential treatment was not based on sex, family status or disability, as claimed, but instead on the “refusal of national authorities to equate her situation with that of either a woman who has given birth or an adoptive mother”.

The recent revelation, that Irish women who have babies through surrogacy arrangements are not afforded the same rights as mothers who have adopted or given birth to their babies, has highlighted the uncertainties/complexities surrounding the issue of surrogacy in both Irish and
EU law.

Adoptive Leave, Maternity Leave, Employer Responsibilities

Rights to Maternity and Adoptive Leave defined:

If an employee becomes pregnant while employed in Ireland she is entitled to take Maternity Leave. This entitlement extends to all female employees regardless of their length of service and the number of hours worked per week etc.

 

Since March 1st 2007, employees have a statutory right to 26 weeks’ Maternity Leave. A further 16 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave is available to them should they wish to take advantage of it. Employees are not obliged to avail of the entire period of leave open to them; however,
they must take a minimum of two weeks prior to the birth and at least 4 weeks after giving birth.

If the baby is born prematurely then Maternity Leave starts on the day the baby is born.

Employees are obliged to notify their employer of their wish to take Maternity Leave as soon as is reasonably practicable (not later than 4 weeks prior to the desired commencement date). Employees must produce a medical certificate confirming the expected birth date. Employers must give paid time-off for doctor/midwife recommended medical appointments for all
pregnancies and employees are also entitled to attend one set of antenatal classes during one pregnancy. The employer should be given written notice 2 weeks in advance of such appointments. Expectant fathers are also entitled to be paid by their employer while attending one set of antenatal classes.

While some do, it is important to remember that employers are not obliged to pay employees while they are on Maternity Leave. Employees who have contributed enough PRSI can apply for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Employers, who do continue to pay employee salaries during Maternity Leave, often require the employee to forward to them any
Maternity Benefit Payment from the Department of Social Protection.

Most employees do not have any right to remuneration from their employer during Additional Maternity Leave and there is no state benefit payable during this time, however, employees are still entitled to avail of this extra 16 weeks away from the workplace immediately after the conclusion of their regular Maternity Leave. It is important to note that Employees must
apply to their employer in writing 4 weeks prior to the conclusion of their Maternity Leave if they wish to avail of this Additional Maternity Leave.

Discrimination

 

Employees are protected against discrimination or loss of employment through redundancy or dismissal on grounds relating to pregnancy and Maternity Leave. Employees must give notice of their intention to return from Maternity Leave at least 4 weeks prior to doing so. Employees must return on the same terms and conditions as when they left (unless this in not reasonably
practicable).

There is an obligation on the employer to carry out a specific risk assessment for employees who are pregnant, and for those who are breastfeeding or who have just given birth, in order to assess whether there are any workplace hazards for these employees. Should this risk assessment determine that hazards (that cannot be eliminated) exist the employee will be
moved to alternative work or, if this is not feasible, the employee will be granted health and safety leave. The employee is entitled to payment from the employer in respect of the first 21 days of such health and safety leave and can apply for social welfare benefit for any period thereafter.

 

Adoptive Leave, Maternity Leave

Adoptive Leave:

When an employee is adopting a child she is entitled to a minimum of 24 consecutive weeks’ ordinary Adoptive Leave starting on the day of placement of the child. Only the adoptive mother is entitled to avail of Adoptive Leave from employment, except in the case where a male is the sole adopter. 

There is no statutory obligation on employers to provide pay to employees while they are on Adoptive Leave – some companies, however, do offer this benefit to employees. Individuals may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit from the Department of Social Protection.

Employees are also entitled to take 16 weeks' additional unpaid Adoptive Leave immediately following the period of standard Adoptive Leave. As is the case with Additional Maternity Leave, Employees must apply for the Additional Adoptive Leave in writing 4 weeks prior to the end of ordinary Adoptive Leave.  In special circumstances, for instance cases involving foreign adoption, Additional Adoptive Leave may be taken at a time not directly following the regular Adoptive Leave period.

An employee’s entitlement to Annual Leave and Public Holidays will continue to accrue as normal during Maternity Leave and Adoptive Leave.

It is essential for employers to remember that, similar to other forms of protective leave, employees are entitled to return to the role they held immediately before commencing Adoptive Leave, subject to the employee having notified the employer of the intention to return to work, not later than four weeks before the date of expected return.

Read More »

Drugs and Alcohol Free Workplace

Drug Free Workplace

 

So far as is reasonably possible, employers are legally obliged to ensure the safety and welfare at work of all employees. Likewise, employees have a responsibility to themselves and to their colleagues.  The use of alcohol and/or unauthorised drugs may disturb the safe and efficient running of a business. It can hinder the health and safety of employees within the organisation as well as the customers and other stakeholders.

 

There can be multiple negative effects of alcohol and drug use. Below illustrates just some of the adverse outcomes that can come as a result of drug and/or alcohol use:

 

  • The use of drugs or alcohol by an employee can lead to performance/productivity issues. It can make concentration very difficult for the person in question. Work related tasks can take more time and the number of mistakes can often increase, potentially costing the Company, individual concerned and other employees dearly.               

  • Another common consequence of alcohol or drug use is the loss of faculties. This may lead to an inability to properly assess danger which can, in turn, bring about higher accident levels when driving to or from work, or being more prone to having an accident or causing an accident when at work.

  • Absence from work is another likely outcome when using alcohol or drugs in an excessive or irresponsible manner. Other related lapses such as lateness and disproportionate levels of sickness, etc. are also common.

 
Health and Safety in the Workplace

 

Companies should operate a ‘zero tolerance’ policy when it comes to drugs and alcohol and
employees should not be permitted to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol under any circumstances. Employees must adhere to all medically prescribed drug instructions and if the medication is likely to cause any side effects that could impair the employee’s levels of concentration or ability to carry out his or her work then he or she should communicate this to Management.

 

If an employee’s performance or attendance at work is affected as a result of alcohol or drugs, or the employer believes the employee has been involved in any drug related action/offence, disciplinary action may be required. Dismissal may be warranted in severe circumstances.

 

It should be clearly communicated to employees that anyone involved in the unlawful possession, use, sale or manufacture of controlled substances or illicit drugs etc. on Company premises, in Company vehicles/work sites or during working time will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. They should also be referred for prosecution. 

 

Companies should also include a drug and alcohol testing policy in their employee handbook to improve their rights in these situations.

 

Smoking regulations for employees:

In line with statutory provisions companies are obliged to operate a strict smoke-free
workplace policy. Employers should make their employees fully aware that any member of staff who breaches this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. It is imperative that employers enforce the law.

 

 

Read More »

Labour Court Ends Zero-Hours Contracts For HSE Home Helps

The Labour Court has issued a recommendation giving improved terms and conditions to Home Help workers employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

 

 Labour Court, HSE, Home Help

 

The recommendation, which is binding under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, was issued on 18th September, 2013, and will affect the employment terms and conditions of approximately 10,000 workers.  It is important to note that this agreement only applies to Home Helps who are employed by the HSE. Individuals employed by private companies or not-for-profit providers are not covered by this Labour Court recommendation.

 

Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) has been campaigning since 2009 in a bid to secure adequate contracts and security of earnings for its members. The Union has welcomed the Labour Court decision which brings an end to the extensive system of zero-hour contracts. Paul Bell, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, stated that the agreement put the terms and conditions of Home Helps on a “firm and binding platform for the first time since the community service was established thirty years ago”.

 

A Zero-hours contract is a type of employment where an employee must be available for work but does not have specified or guaranteed hours or a formal roster. This can cause challenging circumstances for employees where the hours of work as well as earnings are unpredictable.

 

Home Help Contracts

 

This Labour Court agreement provides for the issuing of annualised contracts guaranteeing a minimum of seven to 10 hours of work per week for each Home Help. Caroline Jenkinson, Labour Court Deputy Chairman, explained that “the number of hours to be allocated to each person will be based on 80 per cent of their actual hours worked in the six-month reference period between October 1st, 2011, and March 31st, 2012, with a minimum guarantee of seven hours”.

 

 

In addition to welcoming the removal of the zero-hours system Mr. Bell of SIPTU applauded a HSE effort to reorganise and manage the Home Help hours on a county by county basis.

 

Those who choose not to work under the annualised hour scheme may be entitled to receive compensation of between €2,000 and €3,000 under an exit deal.

Read More »

Recent Labour Court Cases