It’s important for employers to be aware of employment law legislation, particularly in relation to the Employer: Employee relationship as a failure to comply could potentially get you in hot water. Within Ireland, a part from the Codes of Practice, European Directives and Statutory Instruments there are over 20 pieces of legislation governing the Employer:Employee relationship. It is important for Employers to ensure that they are aware of the key pieces of legislation spanning an Employee’s lifecycle, a number of which are outlined below.
Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011
The Employment Equality Acts set out nine protected grounds under which discrimination is illegal. Every Organisation is obliged to ensure equality with regard to access to employment under the Acts. This means that it is illegal to discriminate based on any of the grounds against any applicant.
Terms of Employment Information Acts 1994 – 2001
Under the Acts, every Employee commencing employment after 16th May 1994 must be provided with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment within 2 months of their commencement with an Employer. Employees that commenced prior to that date are entitled to be furnished with a contract of employment within one month of making a request for same. The Acts also outline 15 pieces of information which must be contained within the contract of employment in order for it to be compliant.
The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 sets out specific requirements in terms of children and young persons in employment. Under the legislation, 14 or 15 year olds are classed children, and 16 and 17 year olds as young persons.
- Prior to hiring a child it is required that parental consent is provided in writing from either a parent or guardian of the child. The consent must be retained on the employee file.
- A birth certificate must be presented in respect of any young person or child being employed, and a copy must be retained on the employee file.
- An abstract of the Protection of Young Persons (Employees) Act must also be displayed in the place of work at which the young person or child is located.
- Children and Young persons are entitled to increased rest breaks and have certain restrictions around hours they can work.
Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act 2005
The Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act sets out the main provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of people at work. Included in the duties and responsibilities outlined within the acts for the Employer are:
- preventing risks to other people at the place of work. e.g. Bullying
- ensuring that reportable accidents and dangerous occurrences are reported to the Health and Safety Authority
- putting a safety statement in place
The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001
This is in place to ensure that discrimination does not occur in relation to conditions of employment as between a part time Employee and a comparable full-time Employee.
The Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003
This is in place to ensure that discrimination does not occur in relation to conditions of employment as between a fixed term worker and a comparable permanent employee. It is also in place to prevent abuse by Employers of the use of successive fixed term contracts.
The National Minimum Wage Act 2000
This sets out the national minimum hourly rate paid to the majority of Employees in the Country. The National Minimum Wage is currently €8.65 per hour. There are some roles or people who are exempt from the Act, such as Employees who are under the age of 18.
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
This sets out regulations around hours of work, rest periods, maximum working week, Sunday premiums, annual leave and public holidays. It also sets out record keeping requirements in order to demonstrate compliance with the act.
Payment of Wages Act 1991
This sets out the ways in which an Employer may legally pay an Employee their wages/salary and also regulates situations in which an Employer may make deductions from wages, or require payments from an Employee.
Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2012
This piece of legislation is also critically important during employment in order to prevent discrimination in relation to access to training and experience, conditions of employment, promotion and re-grading and classification of posts. The Organisation must also prevent harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace under the Acts.
Employees are entitled to a variety of forms of leave from employment by way of legislation; Parental Leave, Force Majeure Leave, Adoptive Leave, Maternity Leave, Carer’s Leave and Jury Service Leave. The Acts which regulate these forms of leave outline the notification requirements, duration of leave and service requirements, where relevant.
Termination of Employment
Minimum Notice Terms of Employment Act 1973 – 2005
This sets out the minimum notice periods which an Employee and an Employer are required to give and receive upon termination of employment.
Redundancy Payments Acts 1967- 2012
The area of redundancy is regulated by the Unfair Dismissals Acts and also the Redundancy Payment Acts. An individual who is unfairly selected for redundancy is protected from unfair dismissal, while the Redundancy Payments Acts set out entitlements to a payment on termination of employment due to redundancy for qualifying Employees.
Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 – 2011
The Unfair Dismissals Acts are in place to protect Employees from dismissal by reasons that are deemed unfair. There is a service requirement of 1 year except in certain circumstances such as dismissal due to the employee exercising their right to avail of statutory leave or to join a trade union.
I’ve highlighted above, a number of the key pieces of legislation (not all), spanning the Employee lifecycle and a number of the key points relating to these pieces of legislation.
A failure to comply with any of the pieces of legislation outlined above could result in an Employee making a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. So although you don’t need to know them inside out it’s important to be aware of them and take the necessary precautions.