Labour Law Compliance in Ireland
Compliance with the WRC in Ireland is compulsory. Ensure your business is compliant with our handy guide.
What Is Compliance?
In Ireland, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have regulations in place to ensure the proper treatment of employees by employers. They seek to achieve a culture of compliance with employment law, by informing employers and employees of their respective responsibilities and rights.
Compliance is compulsory for businesses and employers are responsible for keeping records and ensuring they honour these regulations. Lately, we have seen
a clear push to ‘name and shame’ businesses that fail to comply with these regulations, with a large number being publicly named for underpaying employees the national minimum wage and national living wage.
To avoid hefty fines, not to mention negative publicity, businesses need to ensure they remain compliant.
The maintenance of statutory records is a key element of this. Accurate records ensure that employees are being protected. They also protect the employer from false accusations. Inspections are becoming more and more commonplace, with inspectors sometimes visiting businesses unannounced. The law requires employers to keep their employee records at the place of employment and an inspector will assume this is where they’re located. Time and attendance software, like Bizimply, ensures businesses accurately track hours worked and breaks taken, preventing violations.
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What Are The Most Common Violations?
The most frequent cases of underpaying were identified as deducting pay for uniforms, not paying for overtime and failing to reimburse employees travelling between jobs. Retail and hospitality businesses top the list for being most guilty of failing to comply, with other reasons for underpaying including using tips to top up pay and docking wages to fund Christmas parties. These industries have a trickier time keeping accurate records, due to the complicated nature of tracking seasonal, temporary, part-time and full-time staff hours, so could benefit most from time and attendance systems.
7 Things Employers Must Do To Remain Compliant
1. Ensure all of your team are paid fairly.
Employers have a duty to be aware of, and comply with the different national minimum and living wage rates. Failure to comply puts employers at risk of not only paying back arrears to staff but also being fined heavily. Since 4 March 2019, wage rates are solely based on age. The current national minimum wage in Ireland for workers aged 20 and over is €10.50 per hour, the living wage is €12.90 per hour.
2. Make sure your team are working the proper hours.
The maximum weekly work time is 48 hours and this can be spread out over 4 months (6 months for seasonal workers). The minimum weekly work time is generated as 25% of the available/required time an employee gives, which must be guaranteed income for that worker. ‘Work’ constitutes job-related training, time spent travelling between jobs if travelling is part of the job, work/business lunches, time spent abroad, paid overtime, unpaid overtime you ask staff to do, time spent on call at the workplace, any time that is treated as working time under a contract, and travel between home and work at the start and end of the working day if no fixed place of work exists.
3. Make sure your team are taking the correct breaks.
Workers over 18 are entitled to 3 types of breaks – rest breaks at work, daily rest and weekly rest. In Ireland, the general rule on rest breaks is that workers are entitled to a 15-minute break after a 4 ½ hour work period. If they work more than 6 hours they are entitled to 30 minutes, which can include the first 15 minute break. Workers are not entitled to payment during these breaks and they are not considered part of working time.
For daily rest, workers are entitled to 11 consecutive hours rest in any period of 24 hours. For weekly rest, they should receive 24 consecutive hours rest in any period of 7 days and this should normally follow on from one of the 11-hour rest periods. Alternatively, employers can give two 24-hour rest periods in the week that follows one in which a worker did not get the previous entitlement. Unless a workers contract states otherwise, this 24-hour rest period should include a Sunday.
With the WRC sending a strong message that compliance abuse will not go unnoticed, software like Bizimply can really help keep businesses in line with labour laws.
4. Make sure your team are getting the correct holiday pay and leave.
Almost all workers are entitled to 4 weeks paid holidays or annual leave per year. For part-time workers, annual leave is equal to 8% of the hours worked in the leave year, subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks. Workers have the right to get paid for leave, accrue holiday entitlement during maternity, paternity and adoption leave, build off holiday entitlement while off work sick, and request holiday at the same time as sick leave.
If an employee has worked for 40 hours in the 5 weeks leading up to the public holiday and the public holiday falls on a day the employee normally works, that employee is entitled to a day’s pay for the public holiday. Otherwise, they should receive one-fifth of their weekly pay. If they do not have normal daily or weekly working hours, an average of their day’s pay or a fifth of their weekly pay is calculated over the 13 weeks they worked before the public holiday. Employers can, however, choose to give a worker paid time off instead of paying for the public holiday.
5. Make sure you follow correct procedures for young team members.
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 abolished training rates and simplifies sub-minimum rates based solely on age since 4 March 2019. Those aged 19 are entitled to at least €9.45 an hour, employees aged 18 are entitled to €8.40, and under 18-aged workers are entitled to €7.35 per hour. Those under 16 are considered children and employers cannot employ them in regular full-time jobs.
6. Make sure you follow correct procedures for night workers.
Special considerations need to be made for night workers (considered those whose shift has at least 3 hours occurring between the night-time hours of 12am – 7am). Normally, a night worker should not work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24 hour period, with the average calculated over either a 2 month period or longer, if it is part of a collective agreement.
7. Make sure you are following the correct procedure for Sunday work.
Having to work on Sunday depends whether it is mentioned in an employee’s employment contract or written statement of terms and conditions. An employer cannot make an employee work on Sunday if they hadn’t previously agreed to it or agreed to the change of contract in writing. On the other hand, employers aren’t required to pay staff more on Sunday if it wasn’t previously agreed as part of their contract. In Ireland, under the Working Time Act, if there is no such agreement, an employer must give staff one or more of the following for Sunday working: a reasonable allowance, a reasonable pay increase, and/or reasonable paid time off work.
What Are The Consequences For Compliance Violations?
The consequences for not abiding by compliance laws range from notice letters to penalties or prosecution. The WRC aim to secure compliance with employment rights legislation through inspection and prosecution services. For example, between 2015- 2020, 61 inspections within the livestock industry revealed a total of €184,000 owed to employees across the country by their respective employers.
Their inspection services have the power to carry out employment rights compliance inspections in relation to multiple legislation. Inspections are either carried out to investigate a specific complaint (employees are able to file claims against employers), or else a team of inspectors may carry out random or targeted inspections in a particular sector (meat plant industries wouldn’t be unheard of, as businesses in these industries have been known to breach regulations). To comply with these laws, an employer must keep detailed records for 3 years, of start and finishing times, daily and weekly hours worked, and employee leave.
“Bizimply has provided transparency across the business and between staff. Managers can log in no matter where they are. They can see who clocked in, who was late, who was early and who is on break. Without being on the premises.”
What Records Must Be Kept In the UK?
- The name and address of each employee, their PPSN, and a brief statement of their duties as an employee.
- A copy of the statement provided to each employee.
- Days and total hours worked in each week by each employee.
- Any days and hours of leave in each week granted by way of annual leave or in respect of a public holiday to each employee and the payment made to each employee in respect of that leave.
- Any additional day’s pay in respect of a public holiday provided in
each week to each employee.
- A copy of a written record of a notification of working time issued
to an employee.
Interested to see how Bizimply can help you stay compliant in your business. From managing employee documents and storing them safely, to ensuring your staff are paid correctly and on time. Reach out below and book a free business consultation 👇🏻