Employment Law Resources for IFA Members

IFA Employment Law Service

IFA has partnered with HRDuo to offer an Employment Law Service to members. IFA’s Employment Service enables members to become and remain compliant with employment law legislation, which is every changing and impacts all areas from hiring to employee exit.

This service is exclusively available to IFA members at affordable rates from €450 per year.
To learn more about this service, call 1800 714 001

Protect Your Farm Business

IFA’s Employment Service enables members to become and remain compliant with employment law legislation. Employment law legislation is every changing and impacts all areas from hiring to employee exit.
Poor employment practices exposes farm businesses to the following:

  • Employer exposed financially
  • Increased operational costs
  • Ineffective use of resources
  • Exposure to WRC & labour court action
  • High staff turnover
  • Difficult to manage staff due to no policies and procedures

Find out about your legal obligations and your employees’ rights

Under the provisions of the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 – 2012, every employee must be provided with a written statement of the terms and conditions of their employment within two months of commencement of employment.

An employer must, at the very least, include the following in an employee’s written statement:

1. the full names of the employer and the employee;
2. the address of the employer in the State, its principal place of business or registered office address;
3. the place of work;
4. the job title or nature of the work;
5. the date of commencement of employment;
6. if the contract is temporary, the expected duration of employment;
7. if the contract is for a fixed date the date on which the contract expires;
8. the rate of pay and the frequency of payment;
9. the pay reference period for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000;
10. terms or conditions relating to hours of work, including overtime;
11. terms or conditions relating to paid leave (other than paid sick leave);
12. terms or conditions relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury;
13. terms or conditions relating to pensions and pensions schemes;
14. the period of notice of termination for both the employer and the employee.
Every employee must be provided with a copy of the employer’s Disciplinary Policy within 28 days of commencement of employment.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out statutory rights for employee in respect of rest, maximum working time and holidays. For all details under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 click here.

The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 govern maternity leave in Ireland. For full details on Maternity Leave click here.

An employee has no statutory right under employment law to be paid while on sick leave. It is at the discretion of the employer to decide his/her own policy on sick pay and sick leave, subject to the employee’s contract or terms of employment. An employer should have clear sick leave and sick pay policies in place regarding the management of sickness absence in its organisation and employees should be made aware of these policies. Sickness absence policies should set out clear rules in relation to a number of things, including, but not limited to, how to report sickness absence, certifying sickness absence and details of absence management meetings and return to work procedures. An employee may be entitled to illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection while on sick leave. For further details click here.

The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 sets out the Minimum Wage.
The Payment of Wages Act 1991 states that every employee is entitled to a payslip. Click here for further details.

Under the PAYE system, income tax is deducted by the employer at source from the wages or salary of an employee and paid over to the Revenue Commissioners. Full details on income tax can be found here.

The Unfair Dismissal Acts, 1977 – 2011 protect employees from being unfairly dismissed from their jobs by laying down criteria by which dismissals are to be judged unfair and by providing an adjudication system and redress for an employee who dismissal has been found to be unfair. For further details click here.

Under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 – 2007, and employee must have been continuously employed for two years in order to be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment, which is calculated on the basis of two weeks’ salary for every year of service, plus a bonus of one week’s pay capped at €600, in a tax-free lump sum. This sum is 100% payable by the employer. For further details on redundancy click here.

The Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005 is the principal piece of health and safety legislation in Ireland. The 2005 Act provides that ‘every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably possible, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees’. An employer has a liability to know where a risk exists and to take reasonable measures of prevention. For further information on the Actclick here.

The Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act, 2001 applies to part-time employees. A part-time employee is defined as someone who works less hours than a comparable full time employee doing the same type of work.

Under the legislation, a part-time employee shall not be treated less favourably than a comparable full time employee in respect of any condition of employment.

For more information, click here.

A fixed-term employee is someone who is employed under a contract that contains a specific start and end date, or who is employed to carry out a specific task or project, or the continuity of whose contract is contingent on a particular event such as the availability of continued funding from an external source.

Employees cannot remain on a series of fixed-term contracts indefinitely. If an employee whose employment commenced prior to the 14th July 2003 accrues three years of continuous service as a fixed term employee, when that employee’s contract comes up for renewal on or after the 14th July 2003, the employee can only be offered one further fixed-term contract. This renewal on a further fixed-term basis cannot be for more than one year. After this, if the employer wishes the employee to continue, it must be with a contract of indefinite duration.

If an employee who commenced employment on a fixed-term basis on or after 14th July 2003 has had two or more fixed term contracts, the combined duration of the contracts shall not exceed four years. After this, if the employer wishes the employee to continue, it must be with a contract of indefinite duration.

Click here for more information.

The employment of children and young persons is regulated by the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996. The Act applies generally to young employees under 18 years of age. Only those aged sixteen or older can legally work full-time. For further details click here.

The Employment Permits Acts 2003 – 2012 make it an offence to employ an individual without an employment permit where one is required, and provides that any person contravening this provision of the Act could be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of up to €250,000 or up to 10 years’ imprisonment or both. For further information click here.

Discrimination is prohibited in Ireland under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011 on nine distinct grounds – gender; civil status; family status; sexual orientation; religious belief; age; disability; race and membership of the Traveller community. In addition, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the grounds of his/her fixed term or part time status. For further details click here.

Bullying can be defined as repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment which could reasonably be regarded as undermining an individual’s right to dignity at work.

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that they take steps to prevent bullying in the workplace. Where employers fail to take such steps or where they fail to respond adequately to allegations of bullying, they may find themselves held liable for compensation and /or damages for personal injuries.

A code of practice to address bullying in the workplace isavailable here.

Sexual harassment and harassment contrary to the Employment Equality Act 1998 is defined as any act or conduct which is unwelcome and offensive, humiliating or intimidating on a discriminatory ground including spoken words, gestures, or the production, display or circulation of written material or pictures.

There is no specific anti-bullying legislation in Ireland. Three main pieces of legislation that deal with the issue of sexual harassment, harassment and bullying in the workplace are:

The Employment Equality Act 1998.
Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005
Industrial Relations Act, 2012

A code of practice to address sexual harassment and harassment at work can be found here.

An employer should have a clear procedure in place for dealing with the resolution of issues arising in the workplace. A grievance procedure should include an informal step and a formal step.

For a formal complaint, an employee should be required to put the grievance in writing and submit it to his or her manager. The written grievance should include the date of the alleged complaint, details of the complaint, the venue and any witnesses. The formal procedure should have a number of stages including, but not limited to, a grievance hearing, an investigation and an appeal.

In appointing someone to hear an investigation / disciplinary hearing / appeal, the employer should ensure that the appointed person has prior experience, knows their position in the company and will make a good witness.

An employer should also have a clear disciplinary procedure in place, which follows a number of steps and has various levels of disciplinary hearing. Generally, no disciplinary action should be taken before a proper investigation has been undertaken by the employer into the matter complained of.

When taking disciplinary action, be clear in the letter to the employee inviting them to a meeting:

  • What are you inviting them to ?
  • Set out the allegations linked to the employee’s contract and the employer’s policies / procedures
  • Provide all relevant documents
  • Allow the person to bring their own representatives
  • There should be no surprises when a person arrives at a disciplinary meeting

Ensure it is not the same person who conducted the investigation who hears the disciplinary meeting. Meetings can be repeated and can take several weeks or longer to reach a conclusion. Be clear in your reasons for your final decision and act proportionately. The employer must be able to show that it did the best it could by the appropriate measures and procedures.

Click here for more information.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is responsible for monitoring a range of employment rights in Ireland through its inspection service. These inspections arise as a result of complaints received of alleged contraventions of employment rights, as a result of targeted inspection campaigns and as a result of routine inspection enquiries. More information can be found. For further details click here.

Joint Labour Committee Agreements (JLCs) determine terms and conditions for workers in particular sectors. JLCs are not currently in operation in the agriculture sector but it is planned to reinstate a JLC for agricultural workers.

IFA Position on role of JLCs
In 2012/2013, a review on behalf of th e Minister for Enterprise was undertaken of the future role of JLCs and whether they should be retained or reformed. Following consultation with the key sector affected, IFA’s clear position was that, while the Agricultural Workers JLC had a function in the past in terms of setting structures for employment in the sector, it no longer had a function. This is due to the development over the past three decades of significant primary legislation protecting worker rights across all sectors such as the Organisation of Working Time Act, and Minimum Wages Act. IFA proposed that the Agricultural Workers JLC would not be reinstated.
Read the IFA submission to the review of Joint Labour Committees undertaken in 2013.

The outcome of the review, however, was that the Agricultural Workers’ JLC would be retained, along with JLCs in other sectors, such as hospitality, retail, contract cleaning, and security.

Current position of Agricultural Workers’ JLC
In early 2014, the Minister for Enterprise signed a commencement order to reinstate the JLCS, which now operate under the terms of the Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2012. However, the Agricultural Workers JLC is slightly different to all other JLCs as it is under the mandate of both the Minister for Enterprise and Minister for Agriculture (for historic reasons). Therefore, there is a requirement for a change in primary legislation (1976 Industrial Relations Act) in order for the Agricultural Workers JLC to be reinstated.

The amending legislation required to reinstate the Agricultural Workers JLC did not go through the Oireachtas in 2014 and is not expected to be passed in the first half of 2015. IFA will keep up to date on the progress of this legislation.

Once this legislation is passed, the Minister for Enterprise nominates a chairman and two independent observers from the Labour Court for the new JLC. Nominations to the committees will then be sought from employer and employee representatives.

Update on other JLCS
Establishment orders for the other JLCS were signed in January 2014. There have been different responses from employers and employees. Some JLCs have convened – security, contract cleaning and hairdressers, and a draft contract cleaning Employment Regulation Order has been published (6th March 2015), Some JLCs in other sectors have not commenced discussions. Where a JLC does not convene, there can be no agreement on a new Employment Regulation Order. The Irish Hotels Federation has commenced a new High Court challenge against the reinstatement of a JLC for their sector.