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Employment Law Guide Ireland

Employment Law Guide

Planet Legal and Finance has a wide host of partner advisors that have extensive knowledge and valuable experience in advising clients on employment law and litigating disputes in this matter.

Legislation

Irelands’ employment law is an extraordinarily complex and governed by a variety of statutory bodies including: Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Equality Tribunal, the Labour Court, and the Labour Relations Commission. Employers strive to ensure their companies are compliant to employment law. A simple guide has been provided below evaluating a number of areas that Planet Legal and Finance’s partner advisors works with clients on daily.

Employment Contracts

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act of 1994, offers that all employers are obliged to provide their employees an employment contract in writing. In this, your employer must issue you with this contract within a two month period from the start of your employment. Our partner advisors are knowledgeable in advising employees and employers regarding these contracts. Offering advice in relation to recent changes and updates to Irish employment law, as well as delivering practical and commercial advising in regards to your employment contract law. Generally, an employment contract will contain the company’s policies and procedures regarding conduct and information relating to the dismissal of employees. A structured and detailed contract would leave no ambiguity if taken to the extent of a dispute. In cases where the contracts terms and conditions are not available in writing the contract of employment is left as implied by conduct and can be utilized against an employer. Our partner advisors are available to work on all aspects of these employments contracts, including advising on drafting employee handbooks. Advising for both individuals and companies of any scale in the retail, distribution or industrial sectors in regards to employment law matters Planet Legal and Finance’s partner advisors are available.

Minimum Wage

As of July 1st in 2011 minimum wage was set to €8.65 per hour. This rate is still subject to some fluctuation either upwards or downwards given the circumstances. If there are any queries in regards to minimum wage please contact us and information on criteria relevant to various industries is available.

Minimum Notice

Period of termination are subject to a minimum notice time frame for both employees and employers. There are a number of different notice periods for either employees or employers. However, generally a minimum one weeks’ notice is what is expected of an employee given that it is provided in writing and given to the employer, if they have been employed for more than 13 weeks. Our partner advisors highly recommend addressing this in the contract of employment, that this provides the opportunity to employers to identify how they wish to handle these issues now rather than then.

Listed here are the notices period’s employers are required to provide employees on termination of their contract:

Length of Service Notice Period

  • 13 weeks – 2 years 1 week
  • 2 – 5 years 2 weeks
  • 5 – 10 years 4 weeks
  • 10 – 15 years 6 weeks
  • 15 years 8 weeks

Any employer failing to provide an employee the appropriate notice they would be held liable for that employees pay for the additional period.

Fixed Term Employment Contracts

Employment which is on contract relating to a specified task, with a definitive start and end date is known as a fixed term contract. Employees on these contracts hold similar rights to employees that work under open-ended contracts. The vast majority of employees work on open-ended contracts for employment. However a number of employees work under a fixed term employment contract.

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act of 2003 applied to the majority of employees on fixed-term contracts. There are a number of agency workers or employees placed through a temporary work agency in which this does not apply. Additionally, a user enterprise, apprentices, people in publicly-funded employment (including Community Employment) and trainees are also not subject to the Projection of Employees Act. The act is not applied to workers whom are employed strictly through an employment agency.

Part-Time Workers

Employment protection legislation is similar regarding part-time employees if referenced to their full-time counterparts. However there is often a standardized number of hours or period of time in which part-time workers must work before these rights can apply to them. For any queries please contact Planet Legal and Finance

Zero Hours Contract

This type of employment contract offers the availability of working to the employee but does not specify hours, or times of work. This is essentially a formal arrangement of availability that an employee is agreeing or entering into agreeance on being available for a certain number of hours, set out time frames or a mix. The Zero Hours contract is one of the most flexible contracts; however employees on these contracts are still under protection of the Organization of Working Time Act from 1997. This does not apply to a casually based employment though. It is required under this act than the employee if working less than 25%of the hours would be compensated per the contract. The amount of compensation varies purely based on how much the employee worked. In the example of an employee not working at all then the compensation would be for fifteen (15) hours or for 25% of the possible work hours. If an employee was permitted some work then the employer would bring that percentage up to 25% making the difference.

In example, an employee who is required to remain available for twenty (20) hours per week did not work at all, the employee would be subject to compensation equaling fifteen (15) hours or four (4) hours as that is 25% of the 20 hours. Where four hours is the lesser choice in this instance, or in a scenario where an employee worked for three hours.

If there are any queries regarding employee contracts including the zero-hours contract, please contact Planet Legal and Finance.

Redundancy

A redundancy situation is given guidelines and procedures on employee entitlements through the Redundancy Payment Acts of 1967 and 2007. One rule to govern your stance in redundancy by is to ensure that it is the job itself that is made redundant that the person associated is not. These situations are cause for extreme caution on part of the employers in that the redundancy is not deemed and unfair dismissal.

A redundancy payment is not provided without an employee meeting specified criteria however, a summary of what criteria is necessary to be met is listed here:

  1. Employees age must fall between 16 years and the current national age for retirement;
  2. Employees must be insurable under the Social Services Acts;
  3. Employs must have 104 weeks of continuous service;
  4. The Redundancy situation must be found to be genuine.

Generally speaking, should a redundancy situation be found genuine the employee would be compensated for a total of two weeks of gross pay per year of service provided up to €600 plus a single week of gross pay. In instances of collective redundancies are found, certain procedures are to be followed as set out by the Acts. Employer’s must establish and enter into communication with a Redundancy Panel as provided in the Protection of Employment Act of 2007; Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters.

Employers would be informed of a partial rebate form if entitled for redundancy payments made.

Contact Planet Legal and Finance with any questions in relation to a possible redundancy situation.

Unfair Dismissal

An alleged unfair dismissal or related matters are among some of the most consistently seen reasons that employment law solicitors are resourced for. This goes to say for both employers and employees. Claims of unfair dismissal must be addressed or brought forth to be addressed within a six month time frame following the “Unfair Dismissal”; in some cases this may be extended to twelve months if found to have special circumstances.

Most often the employees must meet the requirement of having been in employment for a continuous twelve month period however certain exceptions are permitted. Of these exceptions is included that the dismissal was due to the employee being a trade union member. Employers should always seek an employment law solicitor’s advice if there is any doubt regarding the lawfulness of a dismissal.

The Rights Commissioner and the Employment Appeals Tribunal are both correct forums to address any unfair dismissal claim.

Wrongful Dismissal

In the event that an employee has determined their dismissal to be in breach of the employment contract they were bound to they may claim Wrongful Dismissal. Should the employee show that they were dismissed as a breach of their employment contract and have suffered financial hardship due to this dismissal they would have a claim for wrongful dismissal. These are usually reserved for when the employee had not sustained twelve months of employment and is not under the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Act. Given these instances a Wrongful Dismissal may be the only available option to an employee.

For a dismissal to be determined as lawful, the employer must show that there was not a breach of contract and the dismissal was not un-constitutional. For employers this is to say that it is easier to be success in an “Unfair Dismissal” claim than to be successful in a “Wrongful Dismissal” claim.

Wrongful Dismissal Claims are presented to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Please contact Planet Legal and Finance with any questions regarding wrongful dismissal.

Working Hours

Provided from the Organization of Working Time Act from 1997 details including the calculation for the standard working week are available. The average work week, when determined over a four month period is at 48 hours per week. Breaks are determined based on the number of hours worked and employers are not required to pay for break periods. If you find yourself with any questions regarding Working Hours please contact Planet Legal and Finance.

Maternity Leave and Compassionate Leave

The Maternity Leave Protection Act of 1994 as well as the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act of 2004 provides that employees are entitled to time up to 26 weeks together with the availability of an extended 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Consult your employment contract when determining if an employee has entitlement to any time as part of maternity leave as well as the details of PRSI contributions.

Taking into consideration the terms and conditions of your employment contract there may be no obligation of an employer to provide payment to an employee that is out on maternity leave. Employees qualifying for maternity benefits or that may qualify for these benefits can go to the Department of Social Protection and should obtain the number of PRSI contributions that have been made.

While there is no obligation of employers to provide a compassionate leave, some employment sectors are subject to registering any employment arrangements that would be legally binding to employees. Some of these may provide compassionate leave. Contact Planet Legal and Finance with any questions regarding compassionate leave.

Sick Leave

The option to employers to offer pay during an employer’s sick leave doesn’t place any obligation on employers. Whether an employer decides to offer sick pay is up to them to dictate within their policy. Please note that specific employment sectors are subject to needing to register their employment agreements that would be legally binding to their employees some of which may offer sick leave.

 

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