The Employment Lifecycle

The Employee Life Cycle: 19 Tips to Get it Right | AIHR Digital

Let us be honest, Irish Employment law is complicated and at times vague which challenges the most knowledgeable legal expert.  

This A-Z guide is a useful tool, but it is not definitive as every case is different.  It is just that ‘guidelines

Adoptive Leave

  • 26 weeks state paid + 16 weeks unpaid (can be taken before placement for foreign adoption).
  • Time off to attend pre-adoption classes.
  • Can postpone maternity leave if child is hospitalised if after 14th week (employer agreement).

Annual Leave

  • 4 weeks leave – 1.66 days per month, timing determined by employer, where possible.
  • During lay off or short time working, your employees are still employed, and their contract of employment remains in force.
  • This means they are entitled to a benefit for any public holidays that occur during the first 13 weeks of lay off.
  • The employee does not accrue annual leave during lay off but are entitled to take leave accrued before being laid off.
  • Certified illness while on annual leave may be re-couped.
  • Annual leave must be taken within the leave year or following 6 months if employee agrees
  • Cannot pay in lieu of annual leave unless employment is being terminated.
  • Entitlement to pay in advance for annual leave
  • Employer entitled to double pay staff for working public holidays or substituting within a month
  • Record leave for 8 years

Carer’s Leave

  • 13-104 weeks per “significant person”.  All at once or 6-week gaps between 13-week blocks unless otherwise agreed.
  • Purpose to keep them safe and help them throughout the day with their normal personal needs and/or protect them from being a danger to themselves
  • 12 months service requirement, no break in employment
  • 6 months before you can do it again
  • Full time care – Department of Social Protection (DSP) assessed plus GP medically also.
  • Pension, annual leave and public holiday entitlements reduced to first 13-week period only.
  • Protections against Unfair Dismissals and Redundancy Selection.

Contract of employment

  • A contract must be offered and accepted. It can be oral or written so avoid any oral promises.
  • Fixed Term Contracts or Specified Purpose Contracts may include waiver for Unfair Dismissals.
  • The employee, since March 2019, is entitled to receive part of their written statement containing core terms of employment within the first 5 days of commencing a job. 
  • They must receive the remaining terms in writing within 2 months, in accordance with the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994–2014.
  • However, this requirement does not apply if you have been employed for less than a month.
  • Keep the contract on file until at least one year after the employee leaves.
  • Implicit terms are constitutional or common law rights which do not have to be written in the contract yet still hold.
  • State retirement age as there is no upper limit for redundancy payments.
  • Contractual entitlements override statutory entitlements only where they are greater.
  • Contract Of Service v. Contract For Service (Employment or self-employment).


  • Employees are protected by Unfair Dismissals legislation: One year’s service qualifies for protection regardless of hours worked except where insubstantial grounds exist.
  • Capability competence, qualification, conduct, statutory duty, redundancy are substantial grounds.
  • User of Agency Worker(s) is deemed to be the employer for dismissal purposes only. Request replacement if a problem arises.
  • The onus is on employer to prove dismissal was fair.  Reasonableness of decision to dismiss must be based on genuine belief founded on reasonable grounds after a full and fair investigation with natural justice pertaining.
  • Capability – Short term absences / Long term absence.
  • Conduct – assault, noncompliance unjustified absence (abuse), breach of contract or rules etc.
  • Give the reason in writing to the employee if asked within 14 days.
  • Constructive dismissal – persons conditions of work are made so difficult they feel obliged to leave
  • Employee has up to 26 weeks to make a claim. (52 weeks in exception circumstances)
  • Employer must communicate procedures within 28 days of employee joining (usually in contract)
  • Recommended warnings: Verbal-Formal-First Written-Final Written-Dismissal-Appeal.

Fixed Term (FTC)/Specific Terms Contracts

  • Must have a specific end date or completion of specific task or event (e.g., return of an employee)
  • Cannot be treated less favourably – though can be excluded from pension if <20% hours
  • There exist objective grounds for treatment in a less favourable manner
  • Written justification of fixed term contract extensions is required
  • Must have same access to training and must be informed about job opportunities
  • Where combined of more than one FTC exceeds 4 years, next contract must be indefinite
  • A single fixed term contract can be issued for any duration
  • When writing the contract, the employer excludes Unfair Dismissal at expiry.

Force Majeur Leave

  • Is for urgent family reasons owing to illness/injury of immediate family member presence of employee is indispensable.
  • Family equals children, spouse, partner, brothers or sisters, parents, or grandparents
  • 3 days in any 12 months and 5 days in 36 months


  • Equal pay for employees doing like work, of same length of service, to same standard
  • Discrimination: less favourable treatment than another in a comparable situation under the 9 grounds.
  • During recruitment, employment, training, promotion, work experience, or in conditions of employment.
  • Company must take reasonable preventative measures. Positive action is permitted.
  • Vicarious liability is where the actions of an employee are treated as that of the employer, regardless of knowledge or approval.
  • Victimization occurs where employer treats employee adversely for making a complaint.
  • Appropriate measures to facilitate disability– unless disproportionate burden financially
  • Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment should be defined and covered

GDPR / Data Protection

  • Data must be held and disclosed for specific and lawful purposes only.
  • It must be adequate, relevant, and not excessive. It should not be kept too long in relation to the purpose.
  • Data must be open to examination by the data subject – includes appraisals, references received etc.
  • Data must be kept securely and must not be disclosed outside of purpose.
  • Care must be taken in destruction or disposal.
  • Data must be obtained and processed fairly
  • Data must be accurate and up to date
  • Reasonable security measures must be taken to protect the data.
  • Any monitoring and surveillance activities should be informed to staff along with the purpose
  • Public access to CCTV must be notified.


  • A grievance is where an employee or group perceive a problem or grounds for complaint or dissatisfaction with the company.
  • It may arise from perceived unfairness, lack of consultation, environmental factors, -or inadequate communication.
  • Have a grievance procedure, issue to your employees, and follow it strictly.

Maternity Leave

  • 26 weeks state paid + 16 unpaid (2 weeks before, 4 weeks after)
  • Entitlement kicks in after 24th week of pregnancy, regardless of pregnancy outcome.
  • Rights expire with fixed term contract.
  • Four weeks written notice with medical cert.
  • Can terminate unpaid additional leave if ill (subject to employer agreement).
  • Can postpone maternity leave if child is hospitalized if after 14th week (employer agreement).
  • Paid time off to attend medical or ante/post-natal care (includes 2 classes for father)
  • Fathers entitlement to maternity leave on death of mother before 40th week
  • Right to breastfeeding breaks on site or offsite without reduction in pay for first 26 weeks
  • Employer should carry out risk assessment

Minimum notice

  • Minimum employer notice entitlements kick in after 13 weeks of service.
  • Employee must give notice of one week. May be waived in writing or paid in lieu.
  • Continuity of Service is broken by dismissal, renewal of fixed term contract after 3 months or voluntary leaving.
  • Continuity of Service not broken by lay-offs, strikes, transfer of business, leave, illness, re-employment within 3 months doing same work under fixed term or specified purpose contract.

Part Time

  • No right to part time
  • Cannot be treated less favourably (pro-rata) than fulltime worker though can be excluded from pension if <20% hours.
  • Entitled to same legislative protection except for casual workers (<13 weeks)
  • “Comparable Employee” implies same employer and like work, like performance, in like industry
  • Legislation includes those employed through an agency (the wage payer is employer, except for responsibility for Unfair Dismissal)

Parental Leave

  • 12 months service requirement, six weeks’ notice for parents or people “in loco parentis”
  • 26 weeks’ unpaid leave entitlement before child reaches 12 years (16 where disabled). Employee entitled to six-week blocks. Employment rights protected.
  • Multiple births mean multiple entitlements.
  • If employee falls ill during parental leave, can benefit from any sick leave scheme.

Parents Leave

  • Gives parents the right to take 2 weeks’ paid leave to look after their children aged under 1.
  • 5 weeks paid leave from April 2021.
  • Must give 6 weeks’ notice to your employer

Paternity Leave

  • Gives new parents other than the mother of the child can take 2 weeks leave in the first 6 months after the baby is born or adopted.


  • Entitlement to written statement of pay with authorised and valid deductions
  • Minimum wage currently €10.10 from Jan 2021.
  • An employee’s insistence on the minimum wage cannot lead to his dismissal even in first year.
  • Keep pay records for 3 years
  • There is no employment rights legislation covering overtime


  • Employer pension contributions continue through pregnancy
  • Employers must offer third party PRSA facilities where no company pension scheme exists.


  • Make sure your interview questions are centred on the requirements of the role, i.e., the job spec. 
  • The questions must be consistently applied. 
  • Take notes at interview, no personal comments. Write the notes as if they could be seen by the candidate and retain for one year.  Back up opinions up with evidence.
  • Always seek written consent from candidate before you contact referees.
  • Provide a checklist for references and do not note sensitive data (9 grounds).


  • Job ceases to exist due to financials, reorganisation or not enough work or closure. Cannot replace.
  • Collective redundancy: dismissal of 10% of staff or over for companies up to 300, otherwise 30 staff or more. Employee consultation to take place 30 days before notice of first dismissal.
  • Unfair Dismissals legislation receive up to 4 years pay for <20 years service or 5 years for >20.
  • Payment: qualify with 2 years service, 2 weeks per year plus one week (€600 per week ceiling)
  • Reckonable service (continuity of service) excludes absences >52 weeks due to accident or disease, >26 weeks due to illness, layoff, and unpaid maternity/adoptive leave in the last three years.


  • No obligation.  If given, they must be accurate and supportable. Must be marked private and confidential.
  • Avoid giving oral references as you have no control over the notes taken by the caller.
  • Employees should not discover facts about their performance for the first time from an unfavourable reference.
  • When giving a telephone references always request the questions in advance.
  • Opinions must be stated as such and supported with evidence.
  • Best practice is to give a purely factual reference based on employment dates than giving a bad one.

Sick Leave

  • Not covered under legislation. May be contracted for.

Summary dismissals

  • Grounds for summary dismissals are usually outlined as gross misconduct in the contract of employment or handbook.
  • Principles of natural justice apply. The decision is made by senior management.
  • Options: Verbal-Formal-First Written-Final Written warnings, suspension with pay for investigation or without pay for punishment (if contractually allowed), disciplinary transfer/demotion.
  • Redress: reinstatement or re-engagement, compensation (minimum 4 weeks basic but may include future loss)

Work Permits

  • Foreign nationals need employment permits from Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation unless they are EEA, Swiss nationals, or official refugees. Bulgarian and Romanian nationals need permits still.
  • UK citizens do not need a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland. Under the Common Travel Area (CTA), UK and Irish citizens can live and work freely in each other’s countries and travel freely between them.
  • Work Permits must be surrendered to the Department within 4 weeks of termination.
  • The foreign national can apply for a permit where he has a written job offer and pays fee.
  • The employer can also apply for a permit on behalf of the foreign national.
  • The permit goes to the foreign national and a copy to the employer.
  • If duration is less than 2 years and pertains to that employer only. Renewable for up to 3 years normally.
  • The employer must seek to offer the job to those who do not require a permit first (No more than 50% of staff).
  • Intra EU posting of non-EEA national does not require a work permit

Working Time

  • Working time – 48hrs per week maximum averaged over 4 months, excludes on-call, standby, breaks.
  • Daily rest of 11 hours per 24 (shift workers on changing shift exempt)
  • Weekly rest of 24 hours plus daily rest
  • Breaks 15 minutes per 4.5 hours, 30 minutes per 6 hours
  • Record work times and work hours daily and any leave granted (& payment)
  • Keep records for 3 years.
  • Double Employment exceeding maximum limits makes employers & employee liable under Act.
  • NERA (National Employment Rights Authority) is the statutory body appointed


Bernie Twomey is a HR Consultant and the founder of HR Made Simple located in Cork, Ireland


PARENTS LEAVE – Extension of Leave

Cabinet approves three extra weeks of paid leave for parents of children born after 1 November 2019.

CABINET HAS APPROVED the extension of paid Parent’s Leave to include an additional three weeks of leave for parents after a child’s birth or adoption.

Parents will now be entitled to take five weeks of Parent’s Leave after their child is born or adopted, instead of the two weeks that were previously available.

They are to be able to take the five weeks of leave at any time in the first two years after the birth or adoption of their child, instead of in the one-year period that was provided for in the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019.

The additional leave will be available to parents after legislation has commenced, and is only available to parents whose child was born on or after 1 November 2019. 

New legislation is to be introduced in the New Year to provide for the extension of the paid Parent’s Leave.

Additionally, Cabinet has approved provisions to amend the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 alongside the extension of the Parent’s Leave which will allow male same-sex couples who adopt to avail of the leave as adoptive parents.

It is expected that technical changes in the IT system to implement the extension will take until April 2021.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, who secured Cabinet approval for the extension today, is currently looking at whether backdated payments will be possible for people who take the additional leave before the IT changes have been made.

O’Gorman said that he hopes the five weeks of leave will “help mothers and fathers take that time in those precious first couple of years with their child”.

“We’re committed to ensuring every child gets the best possible start in life, and supporting parents to spend more time with their kids is a big part of that,” O’Gorman said.

The minister said he was “happy to be in a position to advance these important amendments to the Adoptive Leave Act 1995″ and that “addressing the access to adoptive leave and benefit by married male same-sex couples” is “of great importance for couples seeking to adopt”

Parent’s Leave is a statutory entitlement for parents and is different from parental, maternity, or paternity leave.Parent’s Leave is a statutory entitlement for parents and is different from parental, maternity, or paternity leave.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Positive Employee Relations

Every employer’s goal is to create and maintain an environment in which employees feel respected, fairly treated and that their needs are being met.

Employee want to:

  • know their work is appreciated and valued
  • be included in the decision making process
  • have fair working conditions
  • engage in satisfying and challenging work
  • grow through development and tactful discipline
  • receive appropriate help with personal problems

So Employers need to:

  1. acknowledge a job well done
  2. understand and respond to employee concerns
  3. communicate openly with everyone
  4. recognise personal problems and assist where possible or direct employee to a source of help
  5. avoid idle threats about job security
  6. carefully consider employee concerns about working conditions
  7. live up to their commitments
  8. listen, investigate and consider before disciplining
  9. be consistent – treating each employee in the same, fair fashion


Bernie Twomey is a HR Consultant and the founder of HR Made Simple located in Cork, Ireland

Looking for a career change?


Is your career on track or do you feel like you need a clearer sense of purpose and direction? Is your present direction enabling a meaningful life? Do you have people who can support you in your career development?

Working with a coach directly will give you the tools to start working immediately on planning the next phase in your career with confidence and enthusiasm such as:-

  • Developing reflective practices and necessary tools to convert your career history into a well crafted and targeted CV.
  • Tailoring and marketing your CV, cover letters and application forms to the needs of prospective employers
  • To building your confidence which is vital to interview success by working with you on what you need to know about interview preparation and performance.
  • Identifying personal strengths and how to articulate them in the interview.
  • Preparing thoroughly for any interview using proven and effective techniques.

Coaching will also assist you in:-
• Developing a personal career strategy based on personal goals, needs and priorities.
• Gaining confidence and direction through an awareness of your key strengths.
• Building and maintaining mutually beneficial alliances through effective networking.
• Raising your profile in your organisation and beyond.
• To begin to make the transition, if desired, to a new area of employment.

5 Operating Principles of the 21st Century Manager

Critical Thinking in Everyday Life

Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 Strategies

I recently have to participate in a number of psychometric tests and one of them was on critical thinking in which I scored average. It is a subject I never approach before and I was astounded when I met the evaluator who told me that the majority of society actually rate average in this area. There are a number of reasons for this, our education system, society, human laziness etc. So I decided to start researching critical thinking and it has been like a voyage of discovery for me.

So what is critical thinking?

There are many definitions and I would recommend you Google the following site http://www.criticalthinking.org for more in-depth information but it is self-guided, self-discipline thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.

Critical thinking is a complex subject and one I will not be able to do justice on my blog so my goal is to just make people aware of it, plant a seed so to speak.

In my research I have come across 9 strategies to assist you in developing critical thinking for your own personal development:-

• Use wasted time
• A problem a day
• Internalise Intellectual Standards
• Keep an intellectual journal
• Reshape your character
• Deal with your egocentrism
• Redefine the way you see things
• Get in touch with your emotions
• Analyse group influences on your life

1. Use ‘wasted’ time

We all waste time, e.g. becoming irritable when stuck in traffic by beeping your horn or cursing. This is not going to change the situation only increase negativity which you could have easily avoided if you left half an hour earlier.

The key is that the time is “gone” even though, if we had thought about it and considered our options, we would never have deliberately spent our time in the way we did.

2. A problem a day

At the beginning of each day (perhaps driving to work) choose a problem to work or when you have a free moment. Figure out what exactly the problem is, its key elements etc., but the most important think to figure out is whether you have control or no control over this problem. Then set aside the ones you don’t and concentrate on resolving the problem you do have control over. What action you need to take, evaluate your options and make a decision.

Remember the nursery rhyme:
“For every problem under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one, think till you find it. If there be none, then never mind it.”

3. Internalise Intellectual Standards

Sounds heavy but basically it involves each week or month developing a heightened awareness of one of the universal intellectual standards (clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, significance).

For example, if you decide to focus on clarity for this week, try to notice when you are being unclear in communicating with others and also when others are unclear in what they are saying to you.

When you are reading, notice whether you are clear about what you are reading. When you orally express or write out your views, ask yourself whether you are clear about what you are trying to say.

4. Keep an intellectual journal

Again this is simply interpreted as keeping journal entries of your emotional responses at work. E.g. If a situation happened at work which is emotionally significant to you, describe it, your response, analyse it, dig deep and acknowledge what you learnt about yourself. This will be helpful if a similar situation was to arise again and you wanted to deal with it differently.

5. Reshape your character

Choose one intellectual trait to strive for each month, whether its empathy, courage, or humility. Focus on how you are going to develop this trait in yourself. E.g. for humility it could mean noticing when you don’t admit you are wrong, when you become defensive because someone disagrees with you or points out a deficiency in your idea. Because intellectual arrogance is what keeps you from learning so by owning it you can begin to deal with it.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy

6. Deal with your egocentrism

Egocentric thinking is part of our nature, we automatically are bias towards ourselves. So you should daily try to ask yourself questions like ‘do I try to impose my will on others? Do I ever fail to speak my mind when I feel strongly about something and then later feel resentment?

7. Redefine the way you see things

We live in a world, both personal and social, in which every situation is “defined,” that is, given a meaning. How a situation is defined determines not only how you feel about it, but also how you will act. However, virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way.

This fact carries with it tremendous opportunities. In principle, it lies within your power and mind to make your life more happy and fulfilling. Many of the negative definitions that we give to situations in our lives could be transformed into positive ones.

We can be fulfilled when otherwise we would have been frustrated. In this strategy, you practice redefining the way you see things, turning negatives into positives, dead-ends into new beginnings, mistakes into opportunities to learn.

8. Getting in touch with your emotions

Whenever you feel some negative emotion, systematically ask yourself: What, exactly, is the thinking leading to this emotion? For example, if you are angry, ask yourself, what is the thinking that is making me angry? What other ways could I think about this situation? For example, can you think about the situation so as to see the humour in it and what is pitiable in it? If you can, concentrate on that thinking and your emotions will (eventually) shift to match it.

9. Analyse group influences on your life

Closely analyse the behaviour that is encouraged, and discouraged, in the groups to which you belong. For any given group, what are you “required” to believe? What are you “forbidden” to do? Every group enforces some level of conformity. Most people live much too much within the view of themselves projected by others. Discover what pressure you are bowing to and think explicitly about whether or not to reject that pressure.

So if you take anything from my research is that we should all strive to become better thinkers, to not always take things/data at face value, question, ask why, try to look at situations in a different way. It is in a way a form of emancipation…. A word you rarely hear today.

We are human and prone to human irrationalities but even recognising that is the first step to becoming a critical thinker

I will leave you with a quote from Socrates…: The unexamined life is not worth living ,

UK and Ireland CEOs’ views on employees – IBM CEO Study 2012

A recent IBM study of more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 18 industries worldwide illustrates that companies are seeing a trend toward more open, team-based working environments, with UK and Ireland CEOs believing that collaboration is key to employee success;

  • UK and Ireland CEOs look for collaboration and flexibility as key personal characteristics for employee success (80% said “flexible” was an important trait, with 82% saying “collaborative” was important)
  • CEOs say a collaborative environment is also the most important way to engage employees (84% of CEOs said it is crucial for employee engagement, against a much smaller 31% saying the same for financial rewards)
  • Inspirational leadership and leadership teaming are seen as the most important characteristics for a CEO to achieve personal success

Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland commented on the findings: “In these difficult times, CEOs are turning to partnerships and technology to help them overcome the challenges their organisations are facing. CEOs that drive their organisations to innovate, collaborate and understand their customers better will be well-placed to achieve success, both now and in the long-term.”

The study also illustrates that UK and Ireland companies need a better understanding of their customers to help forge closer connections and stronger relationships;

  • CEOs aim to significantly escalate the level of social media engagement with customers over the next five years, with face-to-face interaction becoming less important (20% said social media is one of the three most important form of interaction now, but 57% said it would be in the top three in 3-5 years time. On the other hand 80% saw face-to-face interaction as one of the three most important forms of interaction now, but 67% thought it would be in 3-5 years time)
  • UK and Ireland CEOs see customer relationships and human capital as the most important drivers of sustained business success (63% said these factors were key drivers of sustained economic value)
  • Customers are seen as the most important part of businesses to invest in understanding better according to 75% of UK and Ireland CEOs

The IBM study results also reveal that CEOs in UK and Ireland see innovation and partnership working as an essential source of development and growth;

  • For the first time, UK and Ireland CEOs identify technology as the most important external force impacting their organisations – even more than shifting economic and market conditions (76% said technology was one of the most important factors, against 63% for macroeconomic factors)
  • UK and Ireland CEOs value business partnerships more than their global peers; 47% rate business partnership networks as an important source of economic value compared to the global average of 28%
  • 84% of UK and Ireland CEOs plan extensive external partnerships over the next five years vs. a figure of 69% globally

About the IBM 2012 Global CEO Study
The IBM 2012 Global CEO Study was compiled following 1709 CEO interviews across 64 countries. This study is the fifth edition of IBM’s biennial Global CEO Study series. To better understand the challenges and goals of today’s CEOs, IBM consultants met face-to-face with the largest-known sample of these executives. Between September 2011 and January 2012, 1,709 CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders were interviewed worldwide to better understand their future plans and challenges in an increasingly connected economy.

Absenteeism – EURO 2012

The qualification for the Euro 2012 finals is added boost to the Irish psyche at the moment and one we hope will bring back the euphoria of previous tournaments, such as Italia 90.

But Employers should be aware along with this jubilation will unfortunately be an increase in absenteeism.  So now is the time to plan for the enviable instead of trying to fire fight the situation in the middle of Euro 2012.

Thankfully so far all of the Republic of Ireland matches are to be played in the evenings but this may change if we progress further in the tournament.

So by putting simple measures in place you will be able to proactively manage your absenteeism and prevent some eventual headaches.

  • Consult with your employees now and identify the best measures to be put in place, ensuring by-in from first day.
  • Get involved in the celebration and like previous World Cups and Euro events allow employees to watch the television during short breaks at work.  These small gestures will have a positive impact on employees and they will not have to resort to watching it on the Internet and/or on their mobiles.
  • Where possible agree beforehand with employees to use their annual leave to watch the tournament.
  • Or alternatively if your organisation has a flexi-time system in place, utilise it! So employees where possible can arrive at work earlier or make up the time at a later stage.

And finally the information that employees need to be aware of:

  • Make it clear to employees that any abuse of the above privileges will be subject to disciplinary measures.
  • That there will be zero tolerance for employees phoning in sick after key matches and that they will have to provide medical evidence when requested.

Consequently by having a plan in place companies will be able to handle any difficulties with regard to increases in absenteeism and we can all sit back and enjoy what hopefully will be a wonderful tournament.

Euro 2012 Quarter Final Timetable / Schedule / Fixtures





Sun 10th June


Rep of Ireland v Croatia


Thu 14th June


Spain v Rep of Ireland


Mon 18th June


Italy v Rep of Ireland


Are you prepared for the Grey Hair Time Bomb?

The huge deficit in both public and private sector pension schemes means that it is now a reality that many people will have to work beyond the age of 65, the traditional age of retirement in Ireland, in order to avoid the poverty line. Also with the changes to the Irish State Pension Age, announced today, retirement age now may be set at 68.

Surprising, there are still a number of employees who do not have their retirement age set out in their Contract of Employment.  Is this true of your employees?  If yes then you should be aware if there is no expressed contractual retirement age, there is a strong argument that any attempt to randomly retire an employee would be deemed discriminatory on grounds of age.  If a successful claim is brought by the employee he/she would be entitled to receive an award of up to two years gross remuneration.

The legal framework

The Employment Equality Act 1998 was amended by the Equality Act 2004 to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of age for everyone above 16.  However employers are still allowed to set minimum recruitment ages of 18 or under and to set retirement ages in employment contracts.

There is also a general exemption for different treatment on any of the nine grounds of discrimination in the Acts due to a “genuine occupational requirement”.  In theory, this could arise where age limits are required because of the nature of the post or the conditions in which the job is performed.

However, following a number of decisions from the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in recent years, it can no longer be said that the setting of mandatory retirement ages in employment contracts is absolutely immune from challenge on the age ground.

In the 2007 case of Palacios de la Villa –v- Cortefiel Servicies SA, the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) held that compulsory retirement clauses set by law were discriminatory on grounds of age and could only be objectively justified in certain circumstances. The Irish High Court has approved the Palacios decision and the Irish Labour Court has indicated that the current position in Ireland may have to be revisited.

Impact on the Irish position

The Irish High Court applied the Palacios objective justification test in the 2008 case of Donnellan v Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice . The Court found that an Assistant Garda Commissioner had been treated less favourably due to the compulsory retirement age of 60 for his rank but dismissed his claim on the basis that the State had satisfied the objective justification test.  In that case, the State had argued that the lower retirement age was necessary to ensure that talented young people could move through Garda ranks.

The Irish Labour Court has also suggested that the current position under the Acts may not be compatible with the European Directive on which they are based. There is therefore a strong likelihood that the Acts will be challenged in the future. However, there have been two recent judgments from the ECJ in 2010 which may indicate a somewhat more pro-employer approach by the ECJ in relation to occupational age limits.

Going forward

Employers should still tread very carefully before introducing or applying age limits in the workplace.

  1. Continue to provide for a retirement age in employment contracts.
  2. Where possible, document the objective reasons for selecting a certain retirement age. At a minimum, consider objective reasons to justify applying a compulsory retirement age in the workplace.
  3. Review any rules, policies or provisions that are directly related to age as these may become harder to justify in the future.

Outsourcing HR – Here to help

Human Resources (HR) whether you like it or not, is a necessity when you have employees.

But would you like to take these duties off your plate?  According to a Small Business Association study, the average small business owner spends 25% of their valuable time handling employee related paperwork.  This average increases to a staggering 35-45% if the tasks includes recruitment, hiring and training of new employees.

At the moment due to the economy we are working in, it is an employers’ market.  For every one position advertised there is an average of 5o applicants. I recently dealt with a client who had over 250 applicants for one non-skilled role advertised in the company.  Yet the majority of the cvs he was received were from over qualified individuals.  How do you handle these situations while at the same time run your company.

After all you do not have the time to spend designing HR policies and procedures  or worrying over Government Legislation.  As an employer there are now over 30 pieces of primary legislation,which affect your company, whether you employ 1 or 500 staff.

Remember you entered in to business to build a lasting legacy, deliver great products or services and generate revenue doing what you do best.  So why not outsource HR and make your life easier.

A HR practitioner will make sure you are ahead of legislation with an indept understanding of your legal responsibilities as an employer.  Will train you and your staff in understanding legislation and how to implement this effectively within the workplace. Practical insight into all aspects of human resource management within your business.

Why not visit our website, www.btandassociates.ie  for more information on how we can help you.

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