Irish employment law
25 June 2019
This Inbrief provides a whistle-stop tour of the most important Irish employment law issues, from the beginning of the employment relationship through to its conclusion.
IntroductionThis Inbrief provides a whistle-stop tour of the most important Irish employment law issues, from the beginning of the employment relationship through to its conclusion.
This inbrief covers:
- Commencing employment
- Working time
- Wages and salaries
- Agency workers
- Fixed-term/part-time employees
- Data protection
- Transfer of undertakings
- Termination of employment
- Workplace Relations Commission
Recruitment: Prospective employees are protected against discrimination in accessing employment. The nine protected characteristics are gender, age, race, religion, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability and membership of the Travelling Community. Employers need to be cautious when advertising vacancies and conducting interviews. Interview questions should be carefully considered and the reasons for rejecting each candidate should be non-discriminatory.
Contract of employment: The contract of employment is the bedrock of the relationship between the employer and the employee. While employers have extensive freedom to decide on the terms of an employment contract, all employees must be given five ecore terms of employment no later than five edays after starting work. In addition to the five ecore terms of employment, a written statement containing certain minimum terms and conditions of employment must be given to employees no later than two months after starting work.
Policies: It is important for employers to have some basic workplace policies and procedures in place. Employers must give employees a copy of any applicable dismissal procedure within 28 days of starting work. A statutory code of practice gives general guidelines for preparing and applying disciplinary and grievance procedures. Failing to follow these guidelines could be held against an employer if an employee disputes his or her dismissal. A bullying and harassment policy is also recommended (and this should be separate from the grievance procedure). The Equality Tribunal, Health and Safety Authority and Labour Relations Commission have each published a code of practice giving guidance on how these issues should be dealt with in the workplace.
B - from six hours or more to less than 11 hours
D - from 16 hours or more to less than 21 hours
E - from 21 hours or more to less than 26 hours
G - from 31 hours or more to less than 36 hours
H - 36 hours or more.
Wages and salaries
payable under court orders. Other deductions can only be made after obtaining written consent from the employee.
Ordinary maternity leave (OML) and additional maternity leave (AML): Employees are entitled to 26 weeks’ OML and 16 weeks’ AML. Employers are not obliged to pay employees during OML or AML but an employee may be entitled to receive state benefit tduring OML.
Ordinary adoptive leave (OAL) and additional adoptive leave (AAL): Employees are entitled to 24 weeks’ OAL and 16 weeks’ AAL. Employers are not obliged to pay employees during OAL or AAL but an employee may be entitled to receive state benefit during OAL.
Paternity leave: Employees are entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave which must be taken within six months of the birth or adoption. Employers are not obliged to pay employees during paternity leave but an employee may be entitled to receive state benefit tduring this time.
Parental leave: Employees with 12 months’ service are entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave which must be taken before their child is eight years old.
Force majeure leave: Employees are entitled to three days’ paid force majeure leave in a 12-month period or five days’ paid force majeure leave in a 36-month period. This leave may be taken where, for urgent family reasons owing to an injury/illness of a specified dperson (e.g. child, spouse, sibling) an employee’s immediate presence with the specified dperson is indispensable.
Carer’s leave: Employees with 12 months’ service are entitled to 104 weeks’ unpaid leave to provide full-time care and attention to a person with a certified ddisability and who is deemed to be in need of this care. This person does not need to be a family member or spouse and could be a friend.
Jury service: Employers must continue to pay an employee for as long as he or she is required to spend time on jury service.
Employers, as data controllers, must ensure that personal data about their employees is collated and processed fairly, is kept accurate and up-to-date and is not kept for longer than is necessary. Employees, as data subjects, have the right to make a subject access request which means that, as in the UK, employees have the general right to request access to their personnel data.
Transfer of undertakings (TUPE)
Termination of employment
An employer can terminate an employment contract without cause, provided this is done in accordance with the terms of the contract. However, if a term of the contract is breached, this can give rise to a claim for wrongful dismissal or, in certain circumstances, a claim for injunctive relief.
Employees also have statutory protection against unfair and discriminatory dismissals. An employer cannot lawfully dismiss an employee unless substantial grounds exist to justify the dismissal and a fair procedure has been followed prior to the dismissal. Subject to certain exceptions (e.g. discriminatory dismissal - see further below), employees must have at least 12 months’ continuous service to qualify for protection against unfair dismissal. Awards of up to two years’ remuneration can be made and are calculated on the basis of financial loss.
There is no service requirement where an employee alleges that he or she has been dismissed in a discriminatory manner and an employee can be awarded up to €40,000 or two years’ remuneration (whichever is greater) as compensation.
Where an employer closes a workplace or work of a particular kind is no longer needed, redundant employees with a minimum of two years’ service will be entitled to receive a statutory redundancy payment amounting to two weeks’ remuneration per year of service (pro-rated for partial years’ of service) with an extra bonus week. Weekly remuneration is
currently capped at €600 per week.
The entitlement to receive a statutory redundancy payment may be lost if the employee refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment. Most employers pay substantially more than the statutory minimum even though there may well be no legal obligation to do so.
A collective redundancy situation arises where, in any period of 30 days, the number of dismissals by reason of redundancy reaches the following thresholds:
|Number of redundancies||Total Workforce|
|At least 5||21-49|
|At least 10||50-99|
|At least 10%||100-299|
|At least 30||300 or more|
Where a collective redundancy situation arises, the employer has a duty to inform the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection of specific cinformation about the redundancies and to inform and consult with employee representatives in relation to the proposed redundancies. The information and consultation process must begin, and the Minister must be informed, at least 30 days before the first notice of redundancy is provided. If an employer fails to notify the Minister, a maximum fine of €250,000 could be imposed.
Should an employee bring a successful claim that an employer failed to inform and consult as required, an award of up to four weeks’ remuneration could be made per affected employee.
Workplace Relations Commission