Irish Employment Law In Brief: August 2022Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 5 September 2022 Issues covered: Cost of Living; Absence; Wellbeing; Quiet Quitting
This month’s 'In Brief' brings together a range of resources and articles that we’ve found interesting during the month of August. We’ve highlighted the key themes, to help you keep up to date with developments. Just like the temperature, prices soared and everyone felt the squeeze of the cost of living. In response, employees looked for support, resulting in pay disputes and employers looking at additional ways of supporting and retaining their staff, amongst staff shortages. The government was also under pressure to deliver measures to help too. It was enough to give anyone a headache….
Ireland was lagging behind our neighbours without a SSP scheme for employees, ranking ahead of only Malta in one comparative study of sick pay across 42 European countries. Signed in July 2022, the Sick Leave Act 2022 will provide for a statutory sick pay scheme for employees in Ireland. A commencement order is awaited which will bring the Act into force and is expected in the autumn.
Employees are of course entitled to take sick leave when they are ill but whether or not they are paid during their absence is solely governed by the terms of their employment contract and / or the employer policies and practices in place. The Act, once in force, will provide for the first time statutory sick pay (SSP) for employees. Emer Murphy from A&L Goodbody provided an overview of the legislation and how it will affect employers.
RTÉ shared a survey from HR technology firm, Workhuman, which revealed that 57% of women in Ireland feel obligated to work while sick when working remotely, compared with just 34% of men.
In the case of Tara Keating v Camfil  ADJ-00030501, an employee was dismissed for going on holiday while on sick leave when a work colleague discovered the holiday plan details in her work emails.
Part of being on holiday is usually enjoying good food and drink and the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022 was signed into Irish law. Siobhán Lafferty of Reddy Charlton explained what the new Act means for employers and employees where staff receive tips.
Cost of Living
The Irish Times reported the Coalition was playing down proposals for a new 30 per cent rate of income tax over concerns about fairness and the impact it may have on pensions. There was strong opposition to the suggestion with sources branding it impractical and not feasible. The idea for the new rate was first mooted by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in March.
A Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse survey said only 44 per cent of workers were anticipating pay rises over the next year, with the average rise expected to be about 3.5 per cent. The Irish Times warned trade union officials and human resources managers had better buckle up for a busy time, citing some workers were in line for cuts of up to a tenth in their real pay, which is unsustainable in a tight labour market.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment reported full time employment was up 137,900 (+7 percent), showing a continued recovery from the pandemic in Ireland’s labour market. Employment now stands at 2.55 million, an increase of approximately 9 percent over Q2 2021.
Although this is positive news, it leaves us with the tight labour market and as Martin Kelleher, corporate partner at Mason Hayes & Curran surmised on RTÉ's Morning Ireland: "Clearly what's coming out from this is that increasingly business costs and the battle for talent, both in terms of recruitment and retention, are key issues facing businesses."
Research by Mason Hayes & Curran and the Irish Management Institute found that 85% of firms see higher costs as having the greatest impact on their operations in the next 12 months. However just 40% see inflation as their biggest challenge, while almost 30% expect staffing to be their main headache.
So, what can be done?
Employment law firm, Lewis Silkin, suggested employers need to reevaluate packages to attract and retain staff. Their survey, as reported by RTÉ, found nearly two thirds of employers think flexibility over work location is increasingly important for incentivising staff.
Supporting employee wellbeing also plays an important part and appreciating how hybrid working can impact on mental health.
A feeling of belonging has an impact on our feelings about our workplace, and HR Director looked at gender identity and sexual orientation and whether businesses were getting it right , providing eight tips on how to support anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity at work.
The term ‘Quiet Quitting’ became a workplace trend. After multiple recessions and a global pandemic, millennials and generation Z in particular, often do not have the same job opportunities and financial security as their parents. People Management magazine looked at the phenomenon and how HR should manage it.
Speaking of workplaces, Rolanda Markey of Legal Island and HR & Employment Law expert Caroline Reidy, Managing Director of the HR Suite discussed the challenges of complying with the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work.
While on the topic of disputes, this month Ricky Kelly from RDJ looked at the complexities around investigation reports, intercompany disputes and subject access requests to elicit sensitive information in How do I Handle It?
And maybe those are wise words on which to finish - we can all only do what we can, to the best of our abilities.This article is correct at 05/09/2022
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.