The Government is working on a range of changes to help parents spend more quality time with their children. Last week, they published the new Parent's Leave and Benefit Bill 2019. This Bill is expected to be enacted on or before 1st November 2019.
The new Parent’s Leave & Benefit Bill introduces the concept of paid parent's leave for employees for the first time in Ireland. Originally called the ‘Parental Leave & Benefit Bill’, this has had a name change to the Parent’s Leave & Benefit bill to clearly differentiate parent's leave from parental leave (which is a separate entitlement!).
The Bill does not require employers to pay employees while on parent's leave. It will be up to each employer to decide if they want to top-up an employee's parent's benefit and, if so, by how much. The advice would be to be consistent with approaches taken on the other family leave types.
Company policies should be reviewed and updated to reflect the changes being introduced. This will help you prepare for any increase in staff requests. Make sure you keep your paperwork & record keeping in order.
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The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty has confirmed the new Employment Bill, which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years, will come into force on the 4th March. The Bill is being introduced to ‘improve the security of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours’, common in (but not exclusive to) service industries such as hospitality, tourism and retail. These industries often rely on flexibility in the employment contract and therefore the introduction of this new Bill will require them to take note.
The new Act makes certain breaches a criminal offence; where the employer does not comply with the new obligations in the Bill to provide the required information within one month, can lead to criminal prosecution. Fines on conviction could be up to €5,000 or imprisonment of up to twelve months or both. Directors, managers, secretaries or other officers of a company can be individually liable, i.e. be prosecuted individually for offences.
The Act also introduces an anti-penalisation provision whereby an employer may not penalize an employee for exercising their rights under the 1994 Terms of Employment Act. An employee who is penalized can be awarded compensation of such amounts as the WRC considers just but will not exceed four weeks remuneration.
The new Act will bring significant changes for Irish employers and employees and according to Minister Regina Doherty; the Act is a “once-in-a-generation reform of our labour market.”
Please visit Brightcontracts.ie for more information on the new Employment Bill which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years and is to be enacted on 4th March 2019.
The Employment Act 2018 creates a new right for employees whose employment contract does not accurately reflect the reality of the hours they work on a consistent basis. After a reference period of 12 months, employees will be able to request in writing to be placed in a band of hours that better reflect their average weekly hours worked. In response, employers are obliged to place the employee in the appropriate band and should do so within four weeks of receiving the employee’s request.
The appropriate band is determined by the employer on the basis of the average number of hours worked by the employee per week during the reference period.
The appropriate bands are laid down in law as set out in the below table.
|Band A:||3 to 6 hours|
|Band B:||6 to 11 hours|
|Band C:||11 to 16 hours|
|Band D:||16 to 21 hours|
|Band E:||21 to 26 hours|
|Band F:||26 to 31 hours|
|Band G:||31 to 36 hours|
|Band H:||over 36 hours|
An employer may refuse to place an employee in a band in one of the following circumstances:
In determining the 12 month reference period, a continuous period of employment immediately before the legislation is to be enacted on 4th March 2019 will be reckonable towards the 12 month reference period. Please visit Brightcontracts.ie for more information on the new Employment Bill which has been in the pipeline now for a number of years.
The Bill is being introduced to ‘improve the security of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours’, common in (but not exclusive to) service industries such as hospitality, tourism and retail. These industries often rely on flexibility in the employment contract and therefore the introduction of this new Bill will require them to take note.
From 1st October 2017, the period for which Maternity Benefit is paid has been extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely. A premature birth is described as one at less than 37 weeks’ gestation. It is estimated that every year in Ireland approximately 4,500 babies are born prematurely.
Currently, under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, a mother is entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and 16 weeks’ unpaid leave. Maternity leave normally starts two weeks before the babies expected due date or on the date of the birth of the child should it be earlier.
Under the new amendment, where a child is born prematurely the mother’s paid maternity leave will be extended by the equivalent of the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and the date when the maternity leave was expected to start. For example, where a baby is born in the 30th week of gestation the mother would have an additional entitlement of approximately 7 weeks of maternity leave and benefit i.e. from the date of birth in the 30th week to the two weeks before the expected date of confinement. This additional period will be added onto the mother’s normal entitlement to 26 weeks of maternity leave and benefit, where the mother meets the ordinary qualifying criteria.
Mothers of preterm babies are advised to contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), email firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange the additional payment.
Babies surviving from the earliest gestations, such as 23 weeks, can spend months in a neonatal unit in hospital, by the time a premature baby gets to go home, a mother’s maternity leave can almost be used up. This new change has been heralded as a positive step in supporting parents during a difficult time.
To raise awareness about forthcoming PAYE Modernisation in 2019, Revenue has commenced its awareness campaign by releasing an information leaflet “PAYE Modernisation – Are You Ready”.
This leaflet highlights the vital steps for new and existing employers to undertake in advance of 1st January 2019, in order to succeed in the imminent taxation system revolution.
The key idea behind PAYE Modernisation is that all communication between employer and Revenue will happen in “real time”. In order to effectively overcome the upcoming challenges, employers are being encouraged to focus on the quality and accuracy of the data they provide to Revenue.
In preparation for PAYE Modernisation, employers are advised to follow several easy steps to guarantee its overall success when it does come into effect in 2019:
At Thesaurus Software & BrightPay, we have always strived to deliver excellence in customer service and professional expertise in both Irish and UK payroll. We widely welcome the upcoming PAYE changes. As Paul Byrne, director of Thesaurus Software Ltd, stated during the Revenue's public consultation process held in December 2016:
“Whatever system is adopted, it is important that it represents a step forward for all parties. We are already committed to not charging our customers for the additional development involved. In addition, we are considering making a free version of our software available for micro employers, those with one or two employees.”
The Low Pay Commission has recommended that the National Minimum Wage be increased by 30c per hour, from €9.25 per hour to €9.55 per hour from 1st January 2018. An employee working a 40 hour week will see their gross wage increase by €12.00 a week. Since 2011 this is the fourth increase in the national minimum wage.
In the report the Low Pay Commission has published it has explained with necessary data of its recommendation of the increase, including international competitive and risks to the economy research. In The Low Pay Commission’s findings submissions from interested parties and consultations with employees and employers in relevant economic sectors had taken place.
This increase will affect around 120,000 employees, increasing their national minimum wage by 3%. 10.1% of employees were earning the National Minimum Wage or less last year according to figures published from the Central Statistics Office last April.
While Taoiseach Leo Vardakar said ‘The Government welcomes the recommendation from the Low Pay Commission to increase the National Minimum Wage by 30c to €9.55 per hour’, the Programme for Government commitment for a minimum wage of €10.50 per hour is still a few steps off.
As we enter the summer holiday season employers need to ensure that they are paying their employees correctly during annual leave.
A recent decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will impact how some annual leave pay is calculated.
Do you pay employee’s commission? Is the commission calculated based on the amount of sales made or actual work carried out? If yes, according to the ECJ, holiday pay should include commission pay.
The decision was made in the case of Locke v British Gas Trading and Others. Locke was a Sales Representative whose commission made up approximately 60% of his remuneration. After taking two weeks leave in 2011, Locke suffered financially as he was unable to generate sales for the period he was on annual leave.
The ECJ ruled that the purpose of annual leave is to allow a worker to enjoy a period of rest and relaxation with sufficient pay. By not including commission payments with holiday pay, employees are less likely to take annual leave so as to avoid financial hardship.
It has been left to the national courts to determine how to calculate the commission to which a worker is entitled, however the court did suggest that taking an average amount of commission earned over a certain period, e.g. the previous 12 months.
Employers are advised to review their commission policies to establish which, if any, payments need to be included in annual leave pay.
This July the Government published the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013, commonly known as the “Whistleblowing Bill”. The aim of the bill is to combat corruption and promote a culture of public accountability and transparency. The Bill encourages workers to disclose information relating to wrongdoing in the workplace by offering protection against penalisation should they make a protected disclosure / blow the whistle.
When the Bill is enacted, likely to be later this Autumn, a whistleblower’s protection will include protection from dismissal or any form of penalisation by their employer. If an employee is found to have been dismissed unfairly for having made a protected disclosure, employers could be faced with compensation payments of up to 5 years remuneration. The usual service level of 1 year for cases of unfair dismissal will not apply to Whistleblowing cases.
In preparation of this new legislation, employers are advised to start reviewing their internal policies and procedures and to start considering establishing a robust whistleblowing policy to suit their business. Should you require assistance, Bright Contracts will be providing template policies and guidance on how deal with whistleblowing complaints.