Employment legislation is an ever evolving landscape that employers need to be aware of and a number of new measures are on the way such as Remote Working, Additional Public Holiday, and Statutory Sick Pay. RBK’s HR Solutions Team look back on these changes in 2021 and also what to look out for in 2022.
- The minimum wage rate has increased with effect from 1st January 2022 to €10.50 per hour.
- Parent's Benefit will be extended by two (2) weeks to seven (7) weeks from July 2022
- Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place until 30 April, 2022
- People who work remotely will see an income tax deduction of 30% of the cost of vouched expenses
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – Sick Leave Bill 2021
- The first phase of the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme is set to come into effect this year, however the Government have not confirmed the exact date this scheme will come into effect.
- The Bill states that employers will provide employees, who have 13 weeks’ continuous service, with sick leave pay for a number of days of certified sick leave per year.
- Phased in over a four (4) year period as follows:
- Three (3) days per year in 2022
- Five (5) days payable in 2023
- Seven (7) days payable in 2024
- Ten (10) days payable in 2025
- An employer will only be obliged to pay up to 70% of wages, subject to a cap of €110 day.
- The Government will not “top up” the employer’s contribution to 100%.
- Employees will be obliged to provide a medical certificate in respect of each day.
- If an employer maintains it cannot afford to discharge its SSP obligations, an exemption can be granted by the Labour Court.
- If an employer already provides more favourable sick leave benefits to an employee, they will not be obliged to comply with the SSP rules.
Right to Request Remote Working
- Employee(s) with children up to eight (8) years of age, and carers, have the right to request flexible working arrangements
- Employers should be able to decide whether to accept or refuse a worker’s request
- The employee must have at least six (6) months service to request this
- The employer will have 12 weeks to reply to the employee's request
- The employer may provide a counter offer, and they will have one (1) month to accept or refuse
- Employees can submit another request after 12 weeks
- Right of appeal will apply
- A Working From Home Policy must be in place
An employer can decline a request:
- Due to the potential negative impact on performance
- The nature of the work doesn’t allow for the work to be done remotely
- The employer cannot reorganise work among existing staff
- Concerns re the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
- The potential negative impact on quality
- Concerns re the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
- Ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary processes
The Transparent And Predictable Working Conditions Directive
The purpose of this directive is to produce more transparent and predictable employment while ensuring labour market adaptability.
- A maximum length of probationary periods of six months.
- The right to seek additional work with a ban on exclusivity clauses.
- The right to know in a reasonable advance period what hours they will be working e.g. rotas.
- The right to receive mandatory paid training which should take place during working hours.
Additional Public Holiday
- This year the new public holiday will fall on Friday, 18th March, the day after St. Patrick’s Day, and is scheduled in recognition of the efforts of the general public, all workers and volunteers, and in remembrance of people who sadly lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- From 2023 onwards this public holiday will fall in February in celebration of St Brigid’s Day.
Employment Legislation Overview 2021
Code of Practice on Anti-Bullying in the Workplace
The Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work) Order 2020, came into effect in December 2020, which was jointly published by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Illness Benefit Update 2021
The period to apply for illness benefit was reduced from six (6) days to three (3) days on new claims.
Parents Leave and Benefit Act 2019:
- Parent’s Leave was extended from two (2) weeks to five (5) weeks, for each parent after their child’s birth or adoption.
- This can be taken within the first two (2) years after the birth or adoptive placement of a child.
The Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005
- This was amended to enable all adopting couples, same-sex and opposite sex, to choose which parent may avail of Adoptive Leave.
- Prior to this, an adopting father, other than a sole male adopter, was only entitled to the leave if the adopting mother died.
- This was a significant amendment for married male same-sex adoptive couples who were excluded from availing of this leave due to a legislative anomaly.
Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect
- The Code of Practice sets out guidance for employees and employers about employee disengagement outside normal working hours, including the right to not respond immediately to emails, telephone calls or other messages.
- It applies to all types of employment, whether an individual is working remotely or not.
The Code introduces three (3) main elements:
- The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.
- The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.
- The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (e.g. by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal work hours).
Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2021- EU Whistleblowing Directive
The General Scheme of the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2021 set out the amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 to give effect to the Whistleblowing Directive (EU) 2019/1937. The Whistleblowing Directive was required to be transposed into Irish law by 17 December 2021.
- An obligation on all private sector organisations with 50 or more employees to establish formal channels and procedures for their employees to make protected disclosures.
- Definition of “relevant wrongdoing” is broadened.
- The Directive will now encompass volunteers, unpaid trainees, board members, shareholders and job applicants if they became aware of the breach during the recruitment process as “Reporting Persons”.
- Employers/Contact designated to receive protected disclosures under the Act are required to:
- Acknowledge receipt of the protected disclosure within 7 days of receiving the disclosure.
- Carefully and thoroughly examine and follow-up on the information contained in the protected disclosure.
- Provide feedback within three (3) months to the reporting person on the actions taken or envisaged to be taken as follow-up.
Work Permits Changes
The government announced changes to the Employment Permit System, including expanding quota limits and eligibility for specific employment permits to address skills and labour shortages in Ireland:
- Agri-food sectors
- Social workers will also be eligible for Critical Skills Employment Permits
Redundancy & COVID-19
The pause on redundancy was “lifted” with effect from 30th September 2021:
- The Section 12A provision was introduced as an emergency measure in March 2020 and was extended six (6) times.
- These amendments effectively suspended an employee’s right to redundancy if they were laid off or put on short-time work due to COVID-19 for the duration of the emergency period.
Up to €1,860 for workers made redundant who have lost reckonable service, whilst in receipt of the PUP or another jobseekers payment throughout the pandemic.
Gender Pay Gap and Information Act, 2021
This Act obliges employers to report on the gender pay gap in their companies (Private & Public Sector):
- The reporting obligations initially apply to employers with 250 or more employees for up to two (2) years after the commencement of the Regulations.
- This will then widen to employers with 150 or more employees, on or after the second anniversary of the Regulations and those with 50 or more employees, on or after the third anniversary.
- Employers with less than 50 employees will not be required to report on their gender pay gap.
For more advice and support or to discuss our HR services please contact a member of the RBK HR Solutions Team:
- Yvonne Clarke – HR Solutions Manager – (090) 6480600
- Áine Dunne - HR Business Partner - (090) 6480600