Employment Law & Human Resources
At Morgan McManus, our employment law department provides a comprehensive service to Employers, the primary purpose of which is to pre-empt potential difficulties.
We can provide advice and assistance in ensuring as far as possible that disputes, be they with unions or individual Employees, are dealt with in a manner which minimises the risk of falling foul of relevant legislation and case law, while endeavoring to ensure that the Employer’s objectives are achieved with the minimum disruption.
If an aggrieved Employee seeks a remedy by recourse to the courts or an employment tribunal, we provide a prompt and efficient service, the aim of which is to deal with the matter while causing as little disturbance as possible to the Employer and its business.
Specific Services Provided
The specific Employment Law Services which we provide are:
- Jurisdictional Issues
- Contract Terms
- Restrictive Covenants
- Trade Secrets / Confidentiality
- Staff Handbooks
- Annual Leave
- Compromise Agreements
- Disability Discrimination
- Equality / Employment Claims
- Religious Discrimination
- Industrial Tribunals / Employment Appeals Tribunals
- Cross-Border Employers
Where you, as an Employer, have workers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, you may incorrectly assume that the same law and Principles apply. This is not always the case and an incorrect assumption could lead to costly litigation. Because we practice in both jurisdictions, our legal team will be able to advise you on the appropriate law which applies to your situation. For example, whereas an Employee may initially have been employed in Northern Ireland and signed his Contract of Employment in Northern Ireland, if he was subsequently posted to work in one of the Employers departments in the Republic of Ireland he may be entitled to sue in the Republic of Ireland Courts if the breach of law arose in that jurisdiction.
We also provide an up-dated Comparative Analysis of Employment Law, North and South which is an immediate Reference Guide for North/South Employers.
Often the determination of contractual terms and conditions is a necessity in defending a claim against and Employer or establishing a claim against an Employer. The legislation in both jurisdictions provides the Statutory Right to written particulars of employment for all Employees employed for over two months. If a written document is not in existence we can provide you with precedent documentation and policies for your business, not only to ensure compliance with the legislation but also clauses that can protect your business and it’s legitimate interests.
While employment Contracts may contain terms which place restrictions on an Employee’s ability to work in a similar occupation or in his use of confidential information, restraint of trade (which is usually included in a Restrictive Covenant in an Employment Contract) is a severe encroachment on that individual’s freedom to contract and do business. A Contract which is in restraint of trade is void and unenforceable unless the Employer can show that it had a legitimate interest to uphold, that the restriction was reasonable and in the public interest. It will be deemed void if it goes further than was absolutely necessary to protect the above interests. It is important therefore that you take legal advice to cover the individual circumstances of Employment Contracts for Executives in your organisation.
Trade Secrets / Confidentiality
Particularly where confidential and sensitive information will come to the attention of your Employees in the course of their work, it is important that the contract of employment includes provisions prohibiting the Employee from revealing trade sensitive information to a Competitor in the event that the Employee left your employment to go to that Competitor. While rules of confidentiality exist under common law, it is easier to enforce those obligations under a written Contract of Employment in the event that it was necessary to issue Injunction Proceedings against an Employee.
We can draft your Staff Handbook to cover the following Policies:
- Data Protection
- Disciplinary Procedures
- Equality Adherence Procedures
- Grievance Procedures
- Bullying and Harassment Codes
- Sexual Harassment Codes
- E-mail/Internet Codes
- Holiday and Leave Entitlements
- Termination of Employment
As Annual Leave is a Statutory Right, failure to provide Annual Leave may provide to an Employee the right to claim Unfair Dismissal. The Employee would not be required to prove continuous employment of one year if the dismissal is on the grounds of asserting a Statutory Right. When Annual Leave can be taken and the procedure for requesting Annual Leave with depend on the Contract of Employment.
A Compromise Agreement is a very effective avenue to create a binding settlement where an Employee has a valid claim against his Employer for a Statutory or Contractual Breach. By entering into such an agreement an Employer avoids costs and time going to a Tribunal. The Compromise Agreement usually sets out full terms of settlement between the Employer and the Employee and includes a clause which prevents the issuing or the continuing of proceedings in a Tribunal. This creates the desired effect of a clean break between the two parties. A Compromise Agreement has statutory protection in Northern Ireland and England. There is no such statutory provision for Compromise Agreements in Ireland. To acquire this statutory protection in Northern Ireland and the UK certain requirements are necessary to ensure that the Compromise Agreement is a legally binding document on both parties and these also provide for the provision of independent legal advice to the Employee in the execution of same.
For many Employers, disabled Employees are recognised as valuable and equally significant members of staff. Thus the disabled workforce is increasing. The Equality legislation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has introduced a number of protective measures for disabled workers. This means that an Employer must not treat a disabled individual any differently than he would treat any other member of staff.
The legislation requires the Employer to make reasonable adjustments (NI)/reasonable accommodation (ROI) to working conditions. This includes premises and working hours/practices and procedures.
Northern Ireland has some of the toughest Employment Laws in the world. The discrimination legislation in Northern Ireland is arguably more wide- ranging and far-reaching than anywhere in the world, especially in relation to Fair Employment.
The law requires that positive action be taken on the part of Employers including annual monitoring and tri-annual review. A similarly exacting regime has also commenced in the Republic of Ireland since the implementation of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and amending legislation. Equal Opportunities Policies, Harassment Policies and Grievance Procedures can go a long way in defending a claim. Staff Handbooks should properly reflect the legislation and indeed be up to date as they offer a reference point not only for Employers but Employees alike.
If you are an Employer and are concerned about the policies required please contact any member of our employment team with your queries.
Equality / Fair Employment Claims
In Northern Ireland, Fair Employment is a legal concept which outlaws discrimination in employment in the workplace on the grounds of religious or political opinion, disability, race, gender and age. Similar concepts apply also in the Republic of Ireland (although not including “political opinion”), but apply also to marital status, family status, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller Community. It is especially concerned with protecting the rights of Employees, allowing them to obtain employment and carry out their work without being subject to prejudice based on the above grounds. It applies not only to the conditions of employment but also to access and recruitment and also termination of employment.
Full advice can be given to Employers in relation to any Equal Opportunities Policies, Harassment Policies, Grievance Procedures and, in Northern Ireland, the completion of all Fair Employment Monitoring Forms and Reviews. The Code of Practice in Northern Ireland requires that all Employers recruiting must have Fair Employment training to ensure that no discrimination occurs in any recruitment procedures.
Religious Discrimination is unfortunately a problem in Northern Ireland’s political and religious climate. In Northern Ireland, legislation has been created specifically for our unique circumstances. The law has created positive obligations on Employers to ensure equality of opportunity throughout the workplace, from recruitment to redundancy. This includes the completion of monitoring forms and reviews. We can assist and advise on the requirements of your business and defend any claims made against you. Employers defending such claims need to appreciate the potential financial damage and have claims either vigorously defended or expeditiously settled.
Industrial Tribunals (NI) / Employment Appeals Tribunals (ROI)
If you find yourself in a situation where you are faced with an appearance at a Tribunal defending a claim against you, Morgan McManus can help. Our employment team will guide you through all negotiations and advise on the merits of any proposed settlement. Morgan McManus will act diligently in researching, preparing your case and representing you at any Tribunal Hearing.
For Employers who have businesses in both jurisdictions and the consequent obligation to be mindful of the duties which exist in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we have produced a Comparative Analysis of Employment Law North and South. Specific legal advice should however be taken in individual cases.
See the Links which we have listed on the “Employee” section. We have also created the following “Human Resources” Links which will be of assistance to you in creating proper workplace procedures :
Republic of Ireland
www.tfe.ie : Training For Excellence (TFE) was established to provide tailored training and consultancy to a broad spectrum of small to medium size enterprises. They are based at Carrickmacross Workhouse, Shercock Road, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.
www.plato.ie : Plato Ireland is the business support forum for owner managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) facing the challenges of today’s business world. Through a unique partnership with large “parent” companies, Plato provides SMEs with facilitated group learning, specialist expertise and advice, networking opportunities, business development training, and cross border activities. There is a specific region dedicated to counties Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone, known as Plato Blackwater. It is based at M:TEK Building, Armagh Road, Monaghan, Co. Monaghan.
www.enterprise-ireland.com : Enterprise Ireland is the Government body responsible for the development and promotion of the indigenous business sector. It has a “Leadership and People” section to assist leadership and management responsibility to drive business growth. In its “Start a Business” section it also has Links to all local County Enterprise Boards.
www.basis.ie : This website was developed by the Irish Government to assist businesses in having a single access point to all Government information and services. In its “Employment Issues” section it has very useful information on recruitment, employment rights and contracts and other related issues.
www.entemp.ie : This is the website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. Its “Employment” section contains resource information on many employment issues. It has very helpful information on Redundancy which also contains a “Redundancy Calculator”. It also has a Link to the National Employment Rights Authority website.
www.employmentrights.ie : This is the website of the National Employment Rights Authority which is charged with is now charged with enforcing Employee Employee In law someone employed under a “contract of employment” giving them a number of statutory and contractual rights. Rights which includes the right of that Authority to :
- To enter any premises at a reasonable time
- To demand sight of records
- To inspect records
- To take copies of records
- To interview and require information from any relevant person
The enforcement rights of the Authority will arise under the Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 when enacted.
www.workplacestrategy.ie : This is the website of the National Workplace Strategy (NWS) which is the Government’s blueprint to help transform Ireland’s workplaces into Workplaces of the Future, by promoting greater levels of partnership-led change and innovation in our places of work, regardless of size or sector. As Ireland continues its economic and social transition to a knowledge-based economy and society, the Strategy’s underlying premise is that all companies and organisations can achieve improved performance and an enhanced quality of working life by improving their capacity to manage change and innovation within the workplace.
www.investni.com : The Northern Ireland Government Agency with responsibility for securing new investment in businesses in Northern Ireland. It is the main economic development organization which took over the activities of IDB and other related Government Agencies. In its “Grow your Business” section it has information on people management solutions and training.
www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk : Go to the “Employing People” section of this Website where you will find information on implementing staff incentive schemes, using appraisals to manage performance, employee information and consultation and other related matters. It also has information on handling grievance and disciplinary disputes and other related work issues.
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