Follow your Procedures…

The papers at the weekend reported an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) decision where a hotel worker received over €7,500 in compensation under the Unfair Dismissals legislation.
In this case a hotel worker named Baltzer was dismissed from his position as a hotel porter at a Killarney hotel.
The employee had accessed a room under the instructions of an inebriated guest. Unfortunately it was the wrong room and as this wasn’t the first time this had happened it was a disciplinary matter. In fact, on two previous occasions the employee had done this and had been warned of the consequences that such a further breach could lead to his dismissal.
The employee even admitted in the EAT that he had not in fact checked the guest register on the porter’s list before accessing the room. When he opened the door of the room he found that there were guests asleep inside. The employee apologised and left however the guests complained and refused to pay their charge the following morning.
The hotel explained to the employee that they could not risk a fourth incident as understandably this was impacting on their business.
They terminated the employee who was on a work permit and who as such could not be considered for other positions which may have been available.
The employee sought redress through the EAT.
Now you might think that such a consistent breach by an employee of specific instructions and policies should be grounds for dismissal and even gross misconduct, but, employment law is very strict on procedure.
As such the EAT found that the employer had not followed the correct procedure in their disciplinary action and because they had not advised the employee that he was entitled to representation and an appeal, they had dismissed him unfairly.
This is another strong indication from the EAT of the importance of having and then following procedures. In fact in the eyes of employment law and the EAT, the employee could have murdered the guests and still be entitled to fair procedure before he could be sacked.
To find out more about employment law, unfair dismissals and your rights as an employer or an employee please see or call Sean on 085 6050569.

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Do you have to accept a Pay Cut?

Glen Dimplex Boss Sean O’ Driscoll – calls for five year pay freeze…
In the news this week, Sean O’ Driscoll the manager of one of Irelands leading manufacturing companies stated that a five year pay freeze is needed in order for Ireland to regain its competiveness.
What do you employees and employers in the manufacturing sector think of that idea?
His reasoning behind this suggestion is the belief that “We pay ourselves too much” and the idea that “a five year pay freeze will replenish the country and allow us to gain our competiveness” and do you know what? He might just be right!!
Pay freezes and reductions can affect employees both financially and mentally. However employees may find themselves in a situation whereby they have no choice but to accept a pay freeze or cut in order to stay in their employment. It works the same on the employer’s side; they may have no choice but to reduce your level of pay in order to ensure the survival of the business in these difficult times.
If you as an employee have been asked by your employer to take a pay cut it is important that you firstly ask your employer what exactly your new wage will be and also how it will affect your other terms of employment.
You do not have to agree to accept the proposed pay cut however your employer can make you redundant as a result. Your employer can only do this if he has strong evidence that a redundancy situation does exist, otherwise you could be eligible to take an unfair dismissals claim against your employer.
If your employer insists on reducing your pay you may also feel that you have no choice but to leave your employment. If this is the case then you may be able to take a case for constructive dismissal against your employer. However it is important to note that cases of constructive dismissal are often hard to be successful in.
If you find yourself in a position whereby your employer is proposing that you accept a pay cut or have previously been given a pay cut without your agreement contact us today or visit our website for more information on your employment rights!!
For more information about your employment rights please email or log on to our web site or call 051 850660 Now.

Irish Employees cost economy €700m every year on social networking while at work

On Thursday, Ireland’s most popular recruitment website published the results of a survey which they carried out in order to discover the true cost of social networking sites to the Irish economy.
The results in my opinion were no surprise! They surveyed 1,000 members of the Irish workforce and found that over half of the Irish workers admitted to accessing social networking sites while at work. The workers admitted to using social networking sites to update profiles, tweet on twitter and share videos and pictures.
This survey would suggest that 65,000 employees in the Irish workforce are spending more than an hour per day tweeting, wall posting, messaging and sharing pictures and videos.
Valerie Sorohan, Marketing Manager of shared her views on the results of the survey and said: “Our results clearly show that Irish workers are spending increased time whilst at work on social networking sites, which if left unchecked could have negative repercussions on the productivity of many companies across the country”.
I completely agree with Ms. Sorohan. As a regular user of facebook I can see how it becomes a habit for some people to check their facebook and twitter accounts regularly and sometimes without even realising how much working time they are losing out on as a result.
We are now seeing employers take action against the use of these social networking sites in the workplace as they implement technology which can stop workers from accessing these sites as well as implementing social networking policies – which is a great idea!
This will help put employer’s minds at ease and they can rest assured that their workers are being as productive as possible throughout a working day. Times are tough, the last thing an employer can afford is to carry lax staff.
What is the most worrying discovery of this survey is the calculation that this time which Irish workers are spending on social networking sites could potentially be costing the government over €700 million in lost work time per year.
So whether you are an employer or an employee it is important to realise the impact which these social networking sites are having on our economy and in the difficult times which we are in now it is worth a second thought!
For more information on any of the topics discussed or If you need assistance in developing a social networking policy in your workplace call us today on 051 850 660 or check out our website

Be careful you don’t get screwed…But let’s not over-react to the Minimum Wage reduction.

There’s been a lot of commentary about the minimum wage over the last week ever since the announcement that the minimum wage is to be reduced as part of the four year plan.
People are suggesting that this is a budgetary measure and that those on existing minimum wage terms can’t afford to take a further reduction. So let’s examine what this cut means and get some of the facts straight before we over-react to this change.
The minimum wage currently stands at €8.65 per hour. We’re continually told that this is the second highest in the Euro zone although there is some disagreement about this when the cost of living is taken into account.
As a former small business owner myself I can appreciate the difficulties the minimum wage causes for small business and can appreciate why IBEC and others have called for this reduction.
But before we go off half-cocked, what does this reduction mean? Or maybe more precisely, what does it not mean?
For a start, it does not mean that your employer can unilaterally reduce your wage from an existing level of €8.65 to a new level of €7.65. If you are currently employed on the minimum wage you have a legally enforceable agreement with your employer that you will be paid at least this. This is the case even if this is not set out in a contract, you have the irrefutable right to be paid this rate.
Now like any legal agreement, this cannot be altered by one side without the consent of the other. Thus your employer cannot unilaterally (ie. without your agreement) decide to change your pay. To do so would be in breach of your terms of employment and you could pursue him for breach of contract.
What’s more you could in fact consider yourself to be constructively dismissed and pursue your employer for unfair dismissal but this is certainly not a route I would advocate.
In fact, the reduction to the minimum wage should only effect new employees entering the labour market or moving jobs. It becomes an issue of supply and demand then as to whether someone wants to work for the lesser sum. And in fact if it is the case that people are happy to work for this lesser sum it may be good for the economy and employment.
Many employers are not keen or even able to take someone on on the existing minimum wage and this change may encourage them to create employment in a more affordable way. The minimum wage has long been considered by small business owners as one of the things that made us uncompetitive.
So in a nutshell, the reduction can’t effect you if you are in employment unless you agree to a request from your employer to reduce your wage and then he can only reduce it with your consent.
To find out more about your legal rights in employment, please contact or log on to our website at