HR in 90 Seconds - September 2018

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 28 September 2018
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered:

In this month’s ‘HR in 90 seconds…’ we are looking at probation periods; differences in employment law depending on your jurisdiction and the dangers of emailing outside working hours.

We have a number of excellent resources on our Employment Law Hub but we know you are short for 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:

  • Key points on how to ensure that probation periods work:
  • Update on jurisdictional changes in employment law;
  • The danger of allowing staff to work outside contractual working hours.

Probation Periods

Probation periods are essential to the recruitment process and are also consistently one of the top searched subject on the Legal Island hub. Getting to know someone takes time – longer than just the time involved in an interview process. No matter how thorough your selection process, you won’t know how your new recruit performs until they arrive and get started. Using a probation period gives you an extra chance to check that the candidate is indeed a good fit. Likewise, your employee might like the opportunity to ensure they’ve made the right decision in accepting the job.

Bright HR offers key advice for probation periods including:

  • Support the employee to learn about the company’s culture and values
  • Help them understand the role more fully
  • Keep communication clear
  • Be clear on what is expected during this period
  • Hold review meetings

Bright HR also follow this article by providing some typical questions that can be used when conducting a probation review period. They recommend a 3 – 6 month duration depending on the role and that any problems should be dealt with as quickly as possible and ensure that you follow due process where a dismissal becomes necessary. However we commonly get asked by subscribers about what process is acceptable for an employer in the situation where a dismissal does become necessary during the probation period.

The Legal Island experts provide regular advice on the hub to assist with this, Laura Graham from Reddy Charlton Solicitors reminds us that it is not until a candidate starts a role that an employer gets a real opportunity to assess the employee’s suitability for the position. Laura also advises that having a probationary clause in a contract of employment is a useful tool for employers, so long as they are used correctly.

Comparative Employment Law Table: Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain

The Legal Island Comparative Employment Law Table was updated last month, it sets out recent employment law developments between the three employment law jurisdictions of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Here is a quick round up of the areas of main developments:

  • Republic of Ireland - there have been many developments in relation to equality laws in particular (parental rights, retirement, gender pay gap reporting and more) but there have also been changes or proposals regarding zero hour contracts and a-typical working, whistleblowing, Codes of Practice, National Minimum Wage rates.
  • GB - there have been developments in relation to compensation rates and whistleblowing (as there have been in NI), gender pay gap reporting, working time and National Minimum Wage rates.
  • NI - as mentioned, there have been fewer developments in NI. There have been some in compensation and NMW rates.

The table was updated on 20th August 2018 by Mark McAllister of the Labour Relations Agency, Ciara Fulton from Jones Cassidy Brett solicitors, and Scott Alexander from Legal Island. Look out for a series of podcasts on major areas of difference in comparative employment laws between the three jurisdictions due to be released in the coming weeks, where we’ll be going into more detail than can be done in the table and we’ll also cover some of the historical reasons for the differences between the three jurisdictions.

Mark and Ciara will both be speaking at the NI Annual Reviews of Employment Law Conferences this November.

Information on our Annual Review of Employment Law Conferences taking place in Dublin this November can be found by clicking on your preferred date and venue below:

[SOLD OUT] Thursday 1st November 2018 at the Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin
Thursday 15th November 2018, Crowne Plaza, Northwood, Dublin
Wednesday 28th November 2018, Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan

Emailing Outside of Office Hours: How Do I Handle It? 

In this month’s ‘How Do I Handle It?’ article Deirdre Malone, Employment Partner in Ronan Daly Jermyn, considers this problem scenario below in light of the recent decision in Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Company v Grainne O’Hara, WTC/18/18.

Key Takeaways for Employers

  1. Employers should actively monitor the hours worked by their employees, whether they are present or working remotely;
  2. It is imperative that an employer keeps appropriate records for every employee’s working hours;
  3. Employers should bear in mind that the average 48 hour working week can be calculated over a reference period of either four or sometimes six months in any twelve months;
  4. When engaging senior level employees, it is useful to note that there is a provision within the OWTA enabling an employer to include a term in an employee’s contract of employment whereby the employee decides their own working hours.

If you have seen any HR related articles you’d like to share with Legal-Island readers, send them to


Don't miss this month’s Employment Law In Brief: Case Law Special. Decisions highlighted in this article cover a wide range of employment issues, including constructive dismissal; gross misconduct; working time and emailing outside office hours; fair procedures and workplace investigations; the de minimis rule; and the duty to provide reasonable adjustments.

This article is correct at 28/09/2018

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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