The idea that prevention is necessarily better than cure long ago made its way from adage into the heart of employee and industrial relations policy. However, the legal environment in which Irish employers now operate has changed significantly and has become increasingly more challenging and complex.
With recession has come increased tension in the workplace, a rise in unfair and constructive dismissal claims, and a pervasive “compensation culture” amongst an increasingly insecure and financially strapped workforce.
Too often Irish employers find themselves in costly litigation with employees which they can ill afford, but could avoid, with carefully worded employment contracts and the effective management of employee disputes.
Although there is no legal requirement to provide employees with a written contract of employment, the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 – 2001 requires employers to provide employees with minimum terms and conditions in writing within two months of the commencement of their employment. However, there are many other terms an Irish employer ought to consider putting in place within the employment contract to fully protect their businesses.
The employment contract then forms the basis of the employment relationship between an employer and its employees and governs all aspects of that relationship. In the event of an employee dispute, or claim, the employment contract and the Company’s policies and procedures are very often heavily relied upon by the employer to defend their position.
An employment contract in Irish employment law is made up of implied terms and express terms. Implied terms are those terms incorporated into the employment contract by some external source and fall into the following 4 categories:
- Terms implied by statute
- Terms implied by custom and practice
- Terms implied by law
- Terms implied by collective agreements in a unionized employment.
Express terms are those terms expressly agreed and incorporated into the employment contract by the employer and the employee, and are a matter for negotiation and agreement.
Failure to comply with the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 – 2001 can result in fines of up to 4 weeks remuneration. Whilst poorly written employment contracts and policies and procedures, combined with poorly managed employee disputes, can result in fines of up to 2 years gross remuneration – that is, if an employee subsequently makes a claim to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for unfair or constructive dismissal.
At Insight HR, we believe prevention is better than cure. If you focus too much attention on the costs associated with getting your paperwork right, and too little attention on protecting your business, you may well find yourself in a situation where you have no control over your labour costs.
Do not leave your business exposed to unnecessary compensation claims and costly legal fees. Our experienced HR Consultants understand the legal complexities involved in developing robust employment contracts, and policies and procedures, as well as the requirements and expectations should an employer find themselves embroiled in a difficult employee dispute.
To find out more about employment contracts and staff handbooks, or to talk to one of our consultants in confidence about a staffing situation, call Mary Cullen, Patrick Foley or Liam Barton on 056 770 1060 or email email@example.com