Employment Law in Ireland – An Update
Are you fully up to date on the main employment laws in Ireland? Whether you are an employer or an employee it’s important to stay abreast of legislation. There are regulations relating to all aspects of employment, here’s a brief overview:
Safeguarding Information & Data
Data protection has been brought to the fore over recent times, and there are stringent rules in place relating to the collection and provision of information. Acts relating to this include:
GDPR became big news in 2018, providing us all with more power over our personal data. Businesses operating within the EU now have to follow rigorous guidelines associated with the control and use of information.
This act serves to banish the majority of zero-hour contracts and calls for minimum payments and banded hours. Under the terms of the act employers must inform employees of employment terms within five days of their start date.
This law states employers must provide adequate info to employees, including an employment contract and job description. Employers must also inform employees of the rate of pay and working hours.
The Protection of Young People
Young people are protected via employment legislation, and the following acts are in force:
This act states employees must be provided with a pay slip outlining wages and any deductions made.
Ensures young people are fairly employed and that working conditions are acceptable.
States employees should earn no less than the national minimum wage for their role.
This act is useful for employees seeking better terms and conditions of employment.
Regulations stating employees must be informed of the notice period preceding termination of their employment.
Safeguarding and Health & Safety
Looking after the health and wellbeing of employees should be top of the list for employers, these two acts were passed with this in mind:
Designed to safeguard the health and well-being of employees. The 2005 act Supersedes the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1989. There have been a couple of updates – one of which calls for higher fines for companies who do not follow safety legislation.
Provides peace of mind for employees, allowing them to confidently disclose workplace wrongdoing without fear of reprisal.
Setting Working Hours and Approving Annual Leave
Employees are entitled to time away from work, and to help regulate this, laws have been passed relating to working hours and leave, these include:
This legislation calls for employers to track the number of hours worked by their employees (on a daily and weekly basis), this should include start and finish times. Employers should also record the amount of leave they give to employees (and whether it’s classed as public holiday or annual leave).
Approving Statutory Leave
Alongside time off for holidays etc. Employees may also need time off for the birth of their child (maternity and paternity leave), to care for children (parental leave), to care for other family members (carer’s leave), or they may request adoptive leave if adopting a baby or child. The acts associated with statutory leave are as follows:
Entitles new dads to two weeks statutory paternity leave (leave needs to be taken within 6 months of the birth or adoption of a child).
Allows new mums to take time off for maternity leave, and also stipulates the right to return to work after that period. The act also covers health and safety throughout the pregnancy and immediately afterwards.
The 2004 amendment also stated that mums-to-be should be allowed time for ante-natal appointments, additional maternity leave, and breastfeeding.
Declares parents should be able to take an agreed period of unpaid leave to look after children. Also states that in some cases a set amount of paid leave might be warranted.
This legislation relates to granting adoptive leave for those who are adopting a child, and protects the employees right to return to work afterwards.
Stipulates employees are able to request temporary, unpaid leave to attend to the care and needs of another.
Providing Equal Opportunities
All employees should be treated in the same way, fairly and equally. That’s where the equality act comes into play:
Calls for all employees to be treated fairly, and without discrimination. Employers cannot allow family status, civil status, gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation or disability to get in the way of recruiting for a position, nor can they treat employees differently due to any of these elements. The act also points out that employers have a duty to monitor the workplace and do their utmost to prevent cases of discrimination and harassment.
This amendment to the 1998 Act features additions such as preventing discrimination based on age. It also states that employers will not judge employees on religious, medical, educational, or religious grounds.
Protecting All Employees
Jobs are no longer set in stone – the regular 9-5 is a thing of the past. More and more employees are opting to work part-time or flexible hours. With this in mind the following legislation has been put in place to protect employees:
This act serves to determine whether an individual should be classified as employed or self-employed.
Designed to protect part-time workers, and improve part-time work in general. In the past part-time workers have been treated differently to full-time employees, this act seeks to redress that issue.
Protects fixed-term employees, so they receive the same treatment as permanent employees. The act ensures that fixed term contracts cannot be continually issued to a worker- after a period of four years the employee is considered to be permanent.
This act outlines that temporary workers should be protected from being treated less favourably than permanent colleagues. This means working hours, breaks, public holidays and pay must be fair, and on par with other company employees.
Protecting Employees During a Takeover
When a business is taken over employees can be left feeling vulnerable, these acts are in place to protect employees during uncertain times:
Protects the rights of employees during a business transfer or merger.
States employees should have rights in terms of obtaining information regarding the structure of their employment and consultation surrounding a transfer. (This act is only relevant if the company employs more than fifty employees).
Protecting Employees During Redundancy and Termination
Not all employees are eligible to receive statutory redundancy payment, but this act sets out the minimum entitlement payment for employees who have a set period of service.
This act calls for a panel to come together and mull over proposed collective redundancies. It also eliminates the upper age limit relating to eligibility for redundancy payments.
Protects against unfair or constructive dismissal.
Legislation Surrounding Work Permits
The following acts relate to employment work permits:
Covers legislation relating to nine different of employment permits.
Decrees that a signed copy of employment contract should be provided with new permit applications and renewals.
Civil Claims and Employee Complaints
Unfortunately, there are times an employer and employee might not see eye to eye.
The Mediation Act 2017 Allows employees to request mediation for personal injury cases and other civil claims.
Complaints / Breach of Rights
Regulations exist to safeguard employees who feel their rights have been violated. The Workplace relations Commission look into all complaints and disputes, and they are well-versed in verifying the facts prior to reaching a decision. Mediation can help in these situations, allowing both parties to air their opinion in a controlled manner.
Grievances should be reported to the workplace relations commission. However, before you do that speak with your employer in a bid to resolve the issue, and inform them of your intention. Find out more about employment protection via the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service.
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