What is unfair dismissal?+
Dismissal of an employee may be deemed unfair where the following circumstances occur:
- The employer terminates an employee’s contract with or without notice.
- The employee terminates their contract, with or without notice as a result of the actions of their employer (constructive dismissal).
The Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 – 2015 outlines some of the statutory options available to an to an employee who feels they may have been unfairly dismissed and gives an employee a system of appeal, whereby they can question the fairness ofeir dismissal.
In order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal an employee must do so within 6 months less one day of the date of their dismissal.
An employee must have at least 12 months’ continuous service with the employer in order to make a unfair dismissals claim under the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977- 2015. There are other options available to a dismissed employee under the Industrial Relations Acts but the enforceability of successful actions under that legislation is not complulsory.
In cases where an employee works for an agency, an unfair dismissal claim is made against the company they work for, not the agency themselves. It is important to note that for the purposes of most other employment legislation the party paying the agency worker is deemed to be the employer of the agency worker.
An employee who has worked for a company for less than 12 months can still make an unfair dismissal claim if they were dismissed for one of the following reasons:
- If they were a member or actively involved in a trade union
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding, giving birth or any other situation related to pregnancy or birth
- Avail of their rights to Maternity Benefits, Adoptive leave, Paternity benefits, national minimum wage, parental leave and/or carer’s leave.
A dismissal is automatically deemed to be unfair if an employee is dismissed as a result of:
- Religious or political views/opinions
- Legal proceedings against the employer where the employee is involved, either as a witness or the person bringing the claim
- Race, colour, age, membership of the Traveller community or sexual orientation
- Pregnancy, giving birth or related matters
- Availing of maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, carers leave, national minimum wage
- Unfair selection for redundancy
A dismissal may be deemed to be fair if any of the following criteria are met:
- the employee lacked certain skills, competences or qualifications needed to carry out the job
- the employee was involved in a workplace offence (in this case, the disciplinary procedures play an important role)
- the employer is forced to reduce the size of their workforce, i.e. redundancies
- the employee’s continued employment would be in breach of another law
- other situation specific reasons may differ from case to case
What is the minimum notice period?+
The amount of notice that an employee is entitled may be set out in the contract of employment. This may allow for greater notice periods than are provided by statute but cannot allow for a period less than the statute sets out. If the notice period is not set out in the contract of employment then then the notice period will be dependent on length of service. This is set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973-2001..
In order to be entitled to statutory minimum leave an employee must have worked for an employer for at least 13 weeks. Notice period can vary depending on the length of time the employee has worked for the employer and their seniority.
It is important to check your contract of employment as a longer notice period may be written into the contract you signed – NOTE IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO GIVE SOMEONE A SHORTER PERIOD THAN STATUTE ALLOWS.
- If you have worked in a job for between 13 weeks and 2 years you are entitled to be given a notice period of 1 week
- If you have worked in a job for between 2 and 5 years – 2 weeks’ notice
- If you have worked in a job for between 5 and 10 years – 4 weeks’ notice
- If you have worked in a job for between 10 and 15 years – 6 weeks’ notice
- If you have worked in a job for more than 15 years – 8 weeks’ notice
An alternative to working out a notice period that can be agreed between an employer and employee is called Notice Pay. Notice pay means that the employee does not have to work out their notice period, instead the employee is paid what they would have earned if they had worked out their notice.
An employee also has a responsibility with regards to a minimum notice period if resigning from a job. It is advisable to check your contract of employment as a certain notice period, different to the statutory, may be stipulated there.
An employee who has worked less than 13 weeks for the employer is not required to give notice to their employer and an employer is not obliged to give notice of termination if the employee has worked less than 13 weeks.
Redundancy occurs where an employee loses their job due to certain circumstances, for example:
- Closure of a business
- A company is forced to downsize and reduce their staff
- An employer’s requirements for employees in your field of work ceases to exist
- An employer decides to change the way in which your work is carried out and you are not sufficiently qualified or trained to do the work in this different way.
- An employer decides that the employees role can be better carried out by another person who can do other work as well and the employee is not sufficiently qualified or trained to do the other work
The Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2014 provides an entitlement to redundancy payment for employees who have worked over two years with the employer and who were made redundant. To be eligible for redundancy payment an employee must:
- Be aged 16 years or over as of 8th May 2007
- Be in employment that it insurable by Social Welfare
- Have worked at least 104 week continuously over the age of 16 for the employer
- Have been made redundant
THERE ARE CATEGORIES OF EMPLOYEES SUCH AS APPRENTICES WHO MAY NOT BE ENTITLED TO REDUNDANCY
The statutory redundancy pay due to any eligible redundant employee is equivalent of two weeks gross pays for each full year of service over the age of 16 to the employer plus one further weeks’ pay on top.
Statutory redundancy pay is capped at €600 per week irregardless of whether you earn over that figure.
Statutory redundancy lump sum payments are always tax free. In cases where an employee and employer agree a higher redundancy payment then only the amount of money over and above the statutory amount due to the employee is taxable. Contact your local tax office for further information.
Sick pay in Ireland+
There is no statutory obligation requiring an employer to pay sick leave to an employee. It is advisable to check your contract of employment as there may be a term which entitles you to payment in the event of sickness.
An employee can also apply to the Department of Social Protection for Illness Benefit. An employee must be under 66 years of age and covered by the appropriate class of social insurance to be considered for illness benefit.
A person can apply for illness benefit from day one of their illness but must apply in the first 7 days of becoming ill. No payment is made to the employee in the first 6 days of their illness.
What is the minimum wage in Ireland?+
The national minimum wage in Ireland is €9.25 as of 1st January 2017.
An experienced adult worker is entitled to receive €9.25 per hour.
An employee aged under the age of 18 is entitled to receive €6.48 per hour.
Claiming any outstanding payments from employer+
According to Irish law an employee is entitled to make a claim in relation to any outstanding payments within 6 months from the time the entitlement has arisen. Any previous payment entitlements are statute barred beyond the past 6 months period.
Maternity Leave in Ireland+
You are entitled to take maternity leave, however an employer has no legal obligation to pay maternity leave to an employee unless the contract terms state otherwise.
To check your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work including maternity leave click the following link Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004.
At least 2 weeks have to be taken before the end of the week of your baby’s expected birth and at least 4 weeks after.
You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection if you have sufficient PRSI contributions.
Bullying in the Workplace+
Bullying may affect the health and safety of employee.
There are different types of bullying such as verbal, physical or cyber. It may be expressed in different forms. For example:
- Constant demands to complete b impossible duties or targets
- Social isolation
- Describing someone in a bad way which destroys the reputation
- Using aggressive language
It is important that the person who thinks he/she is experiencing bullying clearly communicates to the person concerned that his or her behaviour is unacceptable.
If this attempt to resolve the situation does not resolve the problem then the employee should refer the matter to the employer by following the official grievance procedure as furnished by the employer.