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Employment Law in Ireland

Hughes Murphy are Employment Law Solicitors in Dublin. Employment Laws in Ireland have become increasingly complex over the past number of years and Hughes Murphy are here to help. 

General Employment Law Principles

1. The essential elements of any procedure for dealing with grievance and disciplinary issues are that they be rational and fair, that the basis for disciplinary action is clear, that the range of penalties that can be imposed is well defined and that an internal appeal mechanism is available.

2. Procedures should be reviewed and up-dated periodically so that they are consistent with changed circumstances in the workplace, developments in employment legislation and case law, and good practice generally.

3. Good practice entails a number of stages in discipline and grievance handling. These include raising the issue with the immediate manager in the first instance. If not resolved, matters are then progressed through a number of steps involving more senior management, HR/IR staff, employee representation, as appropriate, and referral to a third party, either internal or external, in accordance with any locally agreed arrangements.

4. For the purposes of this Code of Practice, “employee representative” includes a colleague of the employee’s choice and a registered trade union but not any other person or body unconnected with the enterprise.

5. The basis of the representation of employees in matters affecting their rights has been addressed in legislation, including the Protection of Employment Act 1977; the European Communities (Safeguarding of Employees Rights on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations, 1980; Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989; Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Act 1996; and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Together with the case law derived from the legislation governing unfair dismissals and other aspects of employment protection, this corpus of law sets out the proper standards to be applied to the handling of grievances, discipline and matters detrimental to the rights of individual employees.

6. The procedures for dealing with such issues reflecting the varying circumstances of enterprises/organisations, must comply with the general principles of natural justice and fair procedures which include:

  • That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed

  • That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned

  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints
  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure

  • That the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors, circumstances.

7. These principles may require that the allegations or complaints be set out in writing, that the source of the allegations or complaint be given or that the employee concerned be allowed to confront or question witnesses.

8. As a general rule, an attempt should be made to resolve grievance and disciplinary issues between the employee concerned and his or her immediate manager or supervisor. This could be done on an informal or private basis.

9. The consequences of a departure from the rules and employment requirements of the enterprise/organisation should be clearly set out in procedures, particularly in respect of breaches of discipline which if proved would warrant suspension or dismissal.

10. Disciplinary action may include:

  • An oral warning
  • A written warning
  • A final written warning
  • Suspension without pay
  • Transfer to another task, or section of the enterprise
  • Demotion
  • Some other appropriate disciplinary action short of dismissal

Employment Law in relation to Dismissal.

11. Generally, the steps in the procedure will be progressive, for example, an oral warning, a written warning, a final written warning, and dismissal. However, there may be instances where more serious action, including dismissal, is warranted at an earlier stage. In such instances the procedures set out at paragraph 6 hereof should be complied with.

12. An employee may be suspended on full pay pending the outcome of an investigation into an alleged breach of discipline.

13. Procedures should set out clearly the different levels in the enterprise or organisation at which the various stages of the procedures will be applied.

14. Warnings should be removed from an employee’s record after a specified period and the employee advised accordingly.

15. The operation of a good grievance and disciplinary procedure requires the maintenance of adequate records. As already stated, it also requires that all members of management, including supervisory personnel and all employees and their representatives be familiar with and adhere to their terms.

Employment Law Legal Advice

Hughes Murphy Solicitors can offer expert legal advice on Employment Law in Ireland. For further information on employment law or to make an appointment phone us on 1800 910 912 or submit the contact form below to arrange a callback.