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HR in 90 Seconds - July 2018

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 18 July 2018
Legal-Island
Legal-Island

In this month’s ‘HR in 90 seconds’ we discuss policies and procedures as part of a contract of employment; provisions and penalties of the miscellaneous provisions bill; and advice on incentive schemes.

We have a number of excellent resources on the Irish Employment Law Hub, but we know you are short of time, so we have reviewed them and brought together the key points to help you stay up to speed. If you have more time you can follow the relevant links for more information on each issue.

This month’s takeaway points include:

  • Why it’s not advisable to include some policies and procedures as part of the terms and conditions;
  • The key provisions and penalties of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill;
  • 16 tips of effective incentive schemes.

Should Employers Include Policies and Procedures in Contracts of Employment?

One of the most searched topics on the Irish Employment Law Hub is ‘Contracts of Employment’ and this recent article by Laura Graham from Reddy Solicitors is a great reminder of a few main points.

Laura reminds us that the most important policies and procedures should include the following:

  • Grievances;
  • Disciplinary issues;
  • Bullying and Harassment (Dignity at Work);
  • Health and Safety;
  • Whistleblowing.

In some cases, the contract of employment goes on to state that the policies and procedures “form part of the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment”.  Such a clause is not advisable for the following reasons:-

  1. Changing any contractual term will require employee consent.  If the policies and procedures form part of the employees’ contracts, each employee will need to consent to the change of the policy or procedure.  This will not be practical for employers where they need to update such policies or procedures.   
  2. While incorporating policies and procedures into the contract of employment means that the employee is contractually bound to follow those policies and procedures, so too is the employer. An employer would be leaving itself open to a claim for breach of contract for any minor breach of the procedures. 

Rather than incorporating the policies and procedures into the contract of employment, employers should consider:

  • referring to the policies and procedures and where they can be found, and
  • confirming that they do not form part of the employee’s contract of employment. 

Laura also gives an example of a clause in respect of a Disciplinary Procedure and what it might look like.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 – Does it go too far?

The new Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 is definitely a hot topic at the present time but opinions are mixed. IBEC are calling it 'dangerous' and Small Firms Associations say it’s 'out of touch with reality'. Linda Hynes from Lewis Silkin brings us the current low down on the Bill for employers and summarises what you need to know.

The Bill has been introduced to help stabilise working conditions for employees. The provisions include:

  • employers will be obliged to provide certain terms of employment within 5 days 
  • employers will be obliged to pay minimum payments where employees are called into work and sent home (this may be 3 times the minimum hourly rate that they normally receive)
  • zero hours contracts will be prohibited except for genuine casual work, emergencies or short-term relief absence
  • banded hours contracts will be available to help employees whose actual hours do not reflect their contracted hours

The Bill will also bring strong penalties for employers who do not comply with its provisions. These include:

  • Awards to employees who are not issued with the core employment terms in writing within 5 days of starting employment
  • Fines of up to €5,000 
  • Anti-penalisation awards of up to two years’ salary
  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Imprisonment of up to 12 months
  • Potential for personal liability for senior employees and directors where they have consented or connived in non-compliance in respect of certain offences

Find out more in Linda’s full article - The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 - does it go too far?

How to... Manage Incentives

In his most recent article Dr Gerry McMahon considers the use and application of incentives, Gerry identifies that incentive schemes are common practice in workplaces across Ireland – especially for managerial, professional\technical and clerical\administrative grades.

Gerry sets out 9 key considerations for the effectiveness of the scheme and also 7 tips for keeping in mind when implementing or revising an incentive scheme. A summary of these is given below or you can read the fuller list by following the link to the full article.

The key considerations for effectiveness are that the scheme:

  • Be self-financing and carefully designed
  • Provide for periodic reviews
  • Link effort to the organisation’s objectives
  • Based on measurable key performance indicators
  • Be fair, equitable, consistent and transparent
  • Suit the employees to whom it is applied
  • Be intelligible and manageable
  • Pay out when a threshold of performance is met
  • Cap payment maxima to an appropriate level

On introducing or revising the incentive scheme:

  • Assesses the applicability of the scheme
  • Secure agreement about the scheme from those directly affected or covered by it
  • The scheme should be customised to the audience and the rewards appropriate and attractive to this audience
  • The communication vehicles or media used to publicise the scheme should be tailored to suit the individuals affected.
  • Confirms responsibilities for the introduction, maintenance and review of the scheme
  • Pilot test the scheme
  • Integrate the scheme

Also in this month’s HR Interview Series, we hear from Neil Collins, Group HR Director at Saongroup.com on his career, key challenges in his role and what the key characteristics are of his top performing employees.

In case you missed it…

We have recorded our series of HR Webinars. In our last one Caroline McEnery of the HR Suite discussed the practicalities of handling dismissals in the workplace. You can listen back or read the full transcript:

And don’t forget, to get a full overview of last month’s employment law developments and topical updates, check out our In Brief: Important Updates from June 2018 article.

Remember - if you have seen any HR related articles you’d like to share with Legal-Island readers, drop a line to lynsey@legal-island.com.

 

This article is correct at 18/07/2018
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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