Under European and Irish law, company policies and procedures are required to be consistent with employment law regulations designed to protect and include workers from all backgrounds, as well as regulate employees’ obligations to their employer. Where the employment policies are not consistent with legislation then those clauses will be unenforceable.
These requirements are set out in several Irish employment acts and European directives.
The goal of these laws is to promote fairness, combat poverty, and create equal opportunities for all EU citizens.
Irish companies should at all times ensure that their policies and procedures legally align with these directives.
Mandatory employment provisions
Several procedures are required by law by an employer when they want to take on a new worker.
When a worker is employed, the employer is required to issue a written statement to the employee containing the following within 5 days:
- The full names of the employer and employee
- The address of the employer
- The place of work
- The commencement dates.
- The job title, grade, or nature of the work
- If the contract isn’t permanent, the expected duration of the contract.
- What the employer expects the normal length of your working day and week to be (for example, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week)
- The duration and conditions relating to the probation period (if there is one)
- Any terms or conditions relating to hours of work, including overtime.
Employees should also receive a written statement within one month detailing remaining information regarding employment, such as entitlement to paid leave, the rate or method of calculating your pay, and the ‘pay reference period’ (for example, whether you are paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly).
Employees are entitled to minimum notice regarding resignation. The length of the notice period depends on how long that employee has been in continuous service to their employer.
Employers are also entitled to receive notice when an employee intends to resign from their position, provided that the employee has worked there for 13 weeks or longer.
Employment is assumed to be continuous unless an employee is dismissed or voluntarily leaves their job.
What to do if a procedure is breached
When an employer becomes aware of a breach of their policies, their response ought to be properly directed by those policies. Responses may include
- an internal investigation,
- disciplinary proceedings,
- dismissal of an employee for gross misconduct. It is important to note under Irish law all dismissals are presumed unlawful unless the employer can justify the dismissal.
When an employee is aware that a company policy has been breached, they can alert the company or a third party such as the Office of Protected Disclosures (OPDC) depending on the nature of the issue arisen.
This is called a protected disclosure, and an employee cannot be penalized for making one.
How an internal investigation should be conducted
Please see our related article on internal workplace investigations.
It is important to ensure that an internal investigation is fair and rational in its conduct, and that the basis and extent of the disciplinary actions are clear.
An employer should have a disciplinary process in place.
An internal appeals mechanism should be made available.
If this investigation is mishandled or neglected, an employee may file a claim with the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC).
Irish and European law have extensive regulations on employment rights.
Company policies and procedures should at all times be updated and reviewed in line with these regulations to ensure compliance with the law.
If a procedure is breached, due diligence must be taken to ensure a proportional and fair response to that breach.