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Why employers should establish an Employee Assistance Program:

EAP Counselling at work resized 600

Employee Assistance Programs, often referred to as EAPs, are programs offered by many employers to employees to assist them in dealing with personal/delicate issues that may hinder their performance in work related activities or negatively affect their overall wellbeing.

EAPs support employees and their family members by providing services such as counselling or guidance in finding a service that will help the employee through a challenging stage or sensitive issue.


EAP professionals provide assistance to people with a broad range of problems – some examples of these are:


  • Overwhelming relationship/family issues
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug addictions
  • Bereavement
  • Emotional distress relating to illness, financial and legal concerns etc.


It is important for employers to make employees aware that the EAP is a voluntary service and that the EAP maintains the confidentiality of the individual availing of the service.


Typically the employer absorbs the costs associated with providing an EAP so it is available free of charge for the employee and his/her family members. Some companies have their own EAP and a dedicated team to deliver the relevant support to employees, however, many companies use a third party EAP provider. There is no obligation on employers to deliver such a program to employees, however, there are many benefits linked with the accessibility of an EAP to employees.


The reasons an employer should provide access to an EAP are as follows:


  • Reduced turnover
  • Improved rates of absenteeism
  • Increased levels of productivity


Having support services like this in place gives employees a sense that their happiness and wellbeing is important to the employer – they feel valued in the workplace and morale and loyalty are likely to improve. Employees are more likely to address their issues/problems if doing so is made easy and does not create an additional expense for them.


To ensure you comply with all employment legislation and to make sure your human resources issues are tackled efficiently contact The HR Company


EAP-Employee Assistance Program


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Internet Usage Policy at Work – What is appropriate in the office?

Whether it is through office computers, laptops or mobile devices, a lot of work environments have easy access to resources like the Internet these days. It is important for employers to lay down ground rules when it comes to the use of the Internet at work. Internet access is typically provided by employers for the purpose of assisting employees with their work related activities.

Internet Usage At Work resized 600

Employers should instruct employees not to use the Internet for non-work related undertakings – except in extraordinary circumstances or on the specific instruction of the manager.

An employer should reserve the right to restrict and monitor the use of Internet resources.

If observing inward and/or outward Internet traffic it is important to make employees aware of this and to let them know that the sites they visit will be recorded by management and may be used at the discretion of The Company. Employers should reserve the right to monitor by means of electronic scanning, for instance, for source and destination addresses and should scrutinise the distribution of any information through the Internet.


Here are some rules that employers should put in place in the employee handbook: 

  • Use the Internet only as needed for work or limited personal use when essential
  • Understand that The Company may be liable for what the employee does from The Company network - whether The Company is aware or not
  • Help The Company to maintain compliance with software licensing – if in doubt, the employee should ask the management team 
  • Download software, games or screensavers to your computer or to The Company network
  • Distribute Company Logins or Passwords to those who are not authorised to use them
  • Download video files such as MPEG files unless directly related to work assigned to you
  • Engage in any form of online gambling or betting
  • Use passwords or encryption keys unknown to Management
  • Obtain malicious access to Internet sites by cracking or hacking
  • Retrieve material from the Internet using Company resources which:
-              is sexually explicit, offensive, obscene or pornographic
-              is racist, sexist or which may otherwise cause offence or be construed as harassment
-              infringes someone else’s legal rights, including copyright, patent or trademark rights of any other person or organisation
-              is defamatory or attacks or denigrates any person, group or organisation
-              would cause offence on the grounds of race, colour, religion, political beliefs, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, nationality, marital status, membership of the traveller community or intending to, undergoing or having undergone treatment to change sex, or
-              is otherwise unlawful or could constitute a criminal offence or which could damage the reputation of The Company


Internet-Usage-At -Work


In order to protect The Company employers should establish policies regarding employees’ personal websites – for instance:

While an employee is entitled to create and operate a personal or commercial website employers generally prevent employees from creating one that would violate Company policies or that would compete with The Company - The employee should notify The Company of his or her external commercial activities and the existence of resources such as a personal website and these should be approved by management to ensure there is no conflict.


Employers should restrict the use of Company resources/property in the development or operation of a personal website. A policy should be put in place to prevent work on a personal website being carried out on The Company premises or on Company time as the employee is expected to devote their full working time and loyalty to The Company.


 For assistance in creating contracts of employment or employee handbooks containing policies and procedures about internet use or to help eliminate problems in the workplace while ensuring you are compliant with all employment legislation visit The HR Company and subscribe to have 24/7 access to your own personal expert HR department.

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An Employer’s Guide to Setting a Probation Period.


 Work Probation PeriodEmployment references for prospective employees should always be thoroughly vetted – however, for various reasons, they may not always give a true and present reflection of the candidate or they may reflect what the employee’s capabilities were at a different time which may not necessarily match their current skills. For this reason it is advisable for employers to employ new members based on multiple evaluations to protect themselves and to ensure not to waste any time or resources on someone who isn’t adequately equipped for the role.


An applicant’s Curriculum Vitae and the resulting interview can tell an employer a lot about the potential new employee - it is not uncommon, however, to ask shortlisted candidates to perform competency-based assessments or aptitude tests so that the employer can acquire a full picture of the candidate and determine whether or not he or she is the right fit for the vacancy. In certain instances it is advisable for employers to hire new members on a probationary period of 3 or 6 months or something along those lines – this is becoming more and more prevalent.


This probationary period does not prejudice the company’s right to dismiss in accordance with the notice provisions contained in the employee’s individual statement of main terms of employment, or without notice for reasons of gross misconduct, should this be necessary.


Probation Performance Assessment Form



This period should be used by the employer to fully assess the employee’s work performance and suitability and if the work performance is not up to the required standard or the employee is considered to be unsuitable the employer should either take swift remedial action or terminate the employment, without recourse to the disciplinary procedure.


At the end of the probationary period the employee should again be reassessed. If he or she has not reached the required standard the employer should, at their discretion, either extend the probationary period in order that remedial action can be taken or terminate the contract of employment.


The probationary period should not in any case exceed eleven months in total.  The employee should receive notice of the company’s intention to extend the probationary period before or at the end of the initial 6 month probationary period. 


A clause should allow that any continuous period of absence of four weeks or more would suspend the probationary period until the employee’s return to work.


To avoid any risk of discrimination a policy, like the probationary period outlined above, should be fair and consistent and should apply to all new employees throughout the company.  In disciplinary proceedings, when dealing with employees on probationary periods, progressive steps can be skipped but it is a common misconception that fair procedures and natural justice need not be adhered to during the probationary period.


The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1997-2007 will not apply to the dismissal of an employee during a period at the beginning of employment when he/she is on probation or undergoing training provided that:


  • the contract of employment is in writing
  • the duration of probation or training is one year or less and is specified in the contract

It is important to bear in mind that this exclusion from the Acts will not apply if the dismissal results from trade union membership or activity, pregnancy related matters, or entitlements under the maternity protection, parental leave, adoptive leave and carer's leave legislation.


For assistance in creating contracts of employment or employee handbooks containing policies and procedures and to ensure you are compliant with all employment legislation visit The HR Company and subscribe to have 24/7 access to your own personal HR department - all your HR needs could be at your finger tips.



Probationary Period in Work

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Uniforms, General Workwear and Dress Code Queries Answered

uniforms-workwear-dress code-uniformEmployees in many companies are required by management to wear a uniform or expressed work attire while carrying out their work responsibilities or while present in the workplace. There are many reasons why employees are obliged to wear a uniform -


  • A uniform is important in some industries from a Health and Safety perspective
  • Wearing a uniform can create a sense of pride/comfort/unity among employees
  • Uniforms maintain the company’s corporate image and are a branding opportunity
  • Uniforms assist in the efficient identification of employees which is helpful to customers, other employees, suppliers and stakeholders in general.


The “uniform” requirements may be a simple guide – for instance “All employees must wear black while carrying out their duties” or employees may simply have a name tag attached to their own clothing.


In many workplaces a specific uniform is not mandatory; however, compliance with the company’s dress code may be compulsory and will be enforced by the employer or management.


Employees will often come into contact with clients and suppliers and consequently it is in the best interest of the company that they present themselves in a professional manner with regards to appearance and standards of dress. It is essential that overall hygiene and grooming are maintained.


Where uniforms are not provided or required, employees should wear clothes appropriate to the job responsibilities - Naturally a mechanic will wear a different form of clothing than an office worker.  


Where possible work attire should be kept clean and tidy at all times.


Suit-Dress Code-Workwear-Uniform


Some employers will restrict employees in terms of what jewellery is allowed as well as items like tattoos – If a company has guidelines in relation to matters such as work attire the relevant policies should be included in the employee handbook and this should be made available to all employees on the commencement of their employment.


Some employers will provide uniforms for employees when they commence employment. In some instances the cost of the uniform will be deducted from the employees pay. Rules in terms of the maintenance of the uniform vary from company to company.


Some companies will request that employees launder their own uniforms at their own expense or at the expense of the company. Medical professionals, for instance, must always have sanitized work attire.


It is important that employers do not request that their employees wear inappropriate uniforms or uniforms that are not comfortable or practical for the work that is being completed.


Suitable footwear and clothing that is warm enough for the working conditions is essential.


According to health and safety guidelines an employer must communicate any risks to the employee that would require them to wear protective equipment. The employer should provide the relevant protective equipment such as protective hard hats, metal topped shoes, eyewear and gloves etc.  Where necessary the employer should also provide training on how to use the protective gear. 


It is the duty of the employee to take reasonable care for his/her own safety and to use any protective equipment supplied. Radiologists should wear lead coated aprons, for instance, to avoid unnecessary amounts of radiation penetrating their bodies during x-rays.


The protective equipment should be provided free of charge to employees if it is intended for use at the workplace only. Where possible, the employee should be provided with their own personal equipment rather than having to share this with other employees.


For assistance in creating contracts of employment or employee handbooks containing policies and procedures about dress code/uniforms and much more and to ensure you are compliant with all employment legislation visit The HR Company and subscribe to have 24/7 access to your own personal expert HR department.


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Recent Labour Court Cases