20th July 2014 Michael J Horan

What Every Employer and Employee Should Know

1. Employment Contracts

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 provides that an employer must provide an employee with a statement in writing no later than two months after the commencement of employment containing the following particulars:

• The full names of both employer and employee.
• The address of the employer.
• The place of work.
• The title of the job and the nature of the work.
• The date of commencement of the contract of employment.
• In the case of temporary contracts, the expected duration or in the case of a fixed term contract the date on which the contract expires.
• The rate of method of calculation of the employee’s remuneration and details as to what intervals the payment of remuneration will be made.
• Any terms and conditions relating to the hours of work including overtime.
• Any terms and conditions relating to paid leave (other than paid sick leave).
• Any terms and conditions relating to sick leave or for payment due to incapacity as a result of injury.
• Details of pensions or pension schemes.
• The period of notice which the employee is required to give and entitled to receive whether by statute or contract.
• Reference must be made to any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment.

An employer should ensure that an employee’s written statement is in compliance with the Act as this will avoid disputes into the future.

2. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997

This Act provides for the following:
• A maximum average net weekly working time of 48 hours.
• A daily rest break of 11 consecutive hours.
• Rest breaks while at work.
• A weekly rest break of 24 consecutive hours.
• A maximum average of night working of 8 hours.
• Maximum hours for employees engaged in work involving special hazards or physical or mental strain

3. Holidays

All employees whether full time, part time, temporary or casual earn holiday entitlements from the time work is commenced. Employees are entitled to four working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides for nine public holidays. In respect of each public holiday an employee is entitled to either:
1. a paid day off on the holiday, or
2. a paid day of within a month, or
3. an extra days annual leave, or
4. an extra days pay.

4. Equality

The Employment Equality Acts prohibit discrimination on nine grounds – gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race /colour/ nationality / ethnic or national origins and membership of the traveller community. The Act prohibits discrimination in employment and, in particular, access to employment, conditions of employment, training or experience for or in relation to employment, promotion or re grading or classification of posts.

5. Maternity / Parental / Force Majeure / Adoptive and Carer’s Leave

It is important that every employer familiarise themselves with the legislation in this area. Section 26 of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994 provides that an employee has a general right to return to work and also a general right to return to the position they held before maternity leave.

6. Dignity at Work/Bullying

Every employer must take measures to ensure that employees are not subject to verbal or physical bullying or harassment from their superiors, co-workers, customers and suppliers. All employers should have a proper policy drawn up to deal with bullying in the work place. Every employer should ensure that any complaints are dealt with seriously and sensitively. Every employer should take active steps to discharge their obligation and fulfil their duty of care in this area.

7. Unfair Dismissal

The Unfair Dismissal Acts are based on two principles:
• Substantial grounds must exist to justify the termination of a contract for employment.
• Fair procedures must be followed in effecting the termination.
All employees who have one year’s continuous service with the employer and who have not reached normal retirement age for employment are included under the Act. All employers should have a carefully constructed contract of employment together with a booklet setting out the appropriate procedure to take place whereby an employee is dismissed.

8. Redundancy

A dismissal is deemed not to be an unfair dismissal if it resulted wholly or mainly from the redundancy of an employee. Redundancy is an absolute defence to a claim for unfair dismissal, provided the employee has been fairly selected for redundancy. Strict adherence to the definition of the redundancy is required from employers if an employee is held to be dismissed by reason of redundancy.

If you are an employer or an employee and have any queries in relation to your obligations or rights please contact Michael J. Horan, Solicitor, at Tel: 071 9140774 or by email: info@michaeljhoran.ie

MICHAEL J. HORAN, B.C.L. T.E.P. Solicitor