In October 2021, GHR Consulting launched an Employer Helpline to provide free HR advice to SMEs nationwide. Below, we discuss the top 4 queries that employers have contacted the helpline about so far in 2023.
- Sick Pay Legislation
Undoubtedly, the top query we have received through our helpline involved the new sick pay legislation in Ireland. Previously, employers had no legal obligation to pay their employees’ statutory sick pay (SSP). However, in January 2023, new legislation came into effect that employees are entitled to three paid sick days per year from their employer. The SSP entitlement will gradually increase to 10 days by 2026.
To qualify for the SSP, an employee has to be working at least 13 weeks with the employer and be medically certified by a GP as unable to work. The medical certificate must be given to the employer on day 1 of sickness absence. The statutory sick leave payment must be paid at the employees’ normal daily rate. Employees are entitled to 70% of their normal pay, up to a maximum €110 a day.
- Tips & Gratuities
Many hospitality employers got in touch to query the tips and gratuities legislation that came into effect on December 1st, 2022. Whilst tips are usually associated with the hospitality sector, it is also common among other services such as taxi drivers, hairdressers, tour guides, and delivery drivers.
The new legislation introduced rules about how employers share tips, gratuities, and service charges among employees. The key points of the legislation policy include:
- Employers can not use tips to make up an employee’s basic wage or make deductions from an employee’s wage in respect of tips and gratuities made to an employee
- Employers must display their policy on tips and gratuities for customers clarifying how they are distributed
- Employers may not use the term ‘service charge’ or similar unless the gratuity goes directly to staff.
- Dismissing an employee during their probationary period
A recurring topic was employers inquiring about dismissing employees within their probationary period. In line with recent legislation, probationary periods cannot exceed 6 months. Only in exceptional circumstances can probation be extended for up to a further 6 months (up to a maximum of 12 months in total). The probation can be extended where in the interests of the employee or where the employee has been on extended leave, such as sick leave, during their probation.
An employer can dismiss an employee at any point during their probationary period and have to give 1 week’s notice if employed for more than 13 weeks. A fair procedure could include an informal meeting with the employee to alert them of their poor performance to allow them to improve before terminating their employment.
- Underperforming employees
Underperforming employees are a common occurrence across all businesses. We would recommend the first step to manage underperforming employees is to recognise the problem which can be identified through distinct signals including disassociation from tasks and responsibilities and recurrent absenteeism. Secondly, the employee should be approached by their manager/supervisor to address both the employer’s and the employee’s expectations of the role and develop a mutual action plan. Resolving an underperformance situation will take time, so the manager must give the employee a reasonable amount of time to improve in their job position. The manager should schedule regular follow-up meetings to ensure the employee is improving their performance whilst fulfilling the aims of the action plan.
If you would like to contact the GHR Consulting helpline, please contact 0818456456