If you are an employer you are in danger of leaving yourself wide open to expensive claims by your employees should you fail to follow some basic but essential steps in your employment relationship with your employees.
In addition to settling successful claims brought by employees you also run the risk of fines and other sanctions from the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) which has a dedicated unit, the Prosecution Services Unit, which can refer cases to the Chief State Solicitors Office for prosecution.
There is a wide body of employment legislation in force in Ireland which can be confusing, complex, and impenetrable for many employers.
In addition some industries have their own industry specific agreements called registered employment agreements (REA) and minimum wage rates. It is worth noting that these registered employment agreements are binding on all parties once registered with the Labour Court.
Minimum requirements in employment law
1. Written statement of certain terms and conditions of employment
This statement must be given to the employee within two months of commencing employment. The relevant act is the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 which sets out the basic information that an employee is entitled to be given in writing about their contract of employment
2. Written statement of pay
3. The minimum wage
There are exceptions to the minimum wage in Ireland of €8.65 per hour but most adults will be entitled to it; in addition certain industries have their own higher minimum wage.
4. Maximum hours worked
Employers must keep records of hours worked by employees to ensure compliance with the maximum working week average of 48 hours which may be calculated over a 4, 6 or 12 month period depending on the industry
5. Working time and breaks
The breaks to which employees are entitled are set out in the Organization of Working Time Act, 1997. Currently break entitlements are 15 minutes per four and a half hours work and a 30 minute break for six hours worked.
6. Holiday entitlements
Holiday entitlements are also covered in the Organization of Working Time Act, 1997. In general full time workers are entitled to four paid weeks holidays per year with part timers being entitled to similar holidays on a pro rata basis depending on hours worked which equates to one third of a week per month worked.
7. Minimum notice of termination of employment
The minimum notice periods are set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2001 and depend on the length of service with the minimum regardless of service being 1 week.
Employers Obligations to Employees
Employment rights for employees in Ireland are provided for by a very extensive range of legislation, statutory instrument, regulation, EU directive, and decided decisions in the courts.
These rights fall under a wide range of headings such as
- information that needs to be provided by the employers after the commencement of employment under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994
- termination of employment
- working time
- health and safety law
- grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures
- changing the contract of employment
- payment of wages
- rest periods
- statutory periods of leave such as maternity leave
- equality and anti discrimination laws
- and so forth.
It is advisable for employers to consult a legal professional in relation to their obligations as employers because it is very easy to transgress and infringe the employees’ rights. This page will give you a list of articles covering many of the main issues and common problems that arise in the employment relationship. However it is not an exhaustive list and if a problem arises in the workplace do seek professional advice or contact NERA.
For small business and entrepreneurs in Ireland, it is critical that they are aware of the law covering termination of employment and safety in the workplace for employees.
Our sister site, http://EmploymentRightsIreland.com, has more comprehensive information about employment law in Ireland.
Termination of employment covers such areas as redundancy, dismissal, unfair dismissal and the procedures that must be employed by the employer. Some vital areas to consider before offering an employment contract is how the contract will be terminated where necessary.
Safety at work
There are equally onerous obligations when it comes to providing safety at work for his/her employees.
The law surrounding safety at work in particular has given very strong powers to health and safety inspectors to carry out inspections in the workplace…….
……..and initiate prosecutions if they choose to do so. Which can result in criminal penalties.
The consequences of a criminal record for any small business owner should not need to be spelled out. And the provision of safety at work is a moral as well as legal obligation.
Termination of employment
In the Ireland of the last few years termination of employment as a result of the downturn and the need to seek redundancies is a feature of many workplaces.
But an understanding of how to proceed with redundancy, legally, is critical…….
Because the penalties that can be imposed for unfair dismissal and ‘fake’ redundancy can be very costly. It does not have to happen if you have a basic understanding of how to terminate employment legally.
There are many other occasions when an employer will need to terminate the employment of an employee. Not to follow the correct procedure will prove to be a costly and needless expense for your small business. Learn more about employment law in Ireland.
Employers can save themselves the considerable costs in money and time involved in defending or otherwise dealing with claims by their employees by some prudent management and housekeeping.
Doing business nowadays can be a fraught enough activity without inviting needless trouble on yourself for the want of a straightforward contract of employment and/or letter of offer and/or statement of your employees’ terms and conditions.
At a minimum you should carry out an audit of your
- Contracts of employment
- Staff handbooks
- Disciplinary and grievance procedures
- All workplace policy documents.
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