TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this report, I will be outlining and going into detail on the different legislation in relation to:
- Equality legislation
- Health, safety and welfare at work
- Union representation
- Regulations relating to pay, including maternity leave, parental leave and minimum wage
- Provide and maintain a safe working environment which uses safe plant and equipment
- Prevent risks from use of any substance and, if necessary, exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
- Prevent any improper conduct likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk or in a vulnerable position
- Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety in the workplace
- Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees if necessary
- Appointing a reliable person as the companies Safety Officer
This is sort out into three acts:
- The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004
- The Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004
- The National Disability Authority Act 1999
The Employment Act 1998 was put into operation in October 1999. It was replaced by the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1947 and the Employment Equality Act of 1977. The most recent amendment if the Act was taken out in 2004. Together, they are known as the Employment Equality Acts of 1998 and 2004.
This act covers a few different elements of employment:
- Equal pay
- Access to employment
- Promotion or re-grading
The act aims to promote:
- Prohibit discrimination
- Require appropriate measures for people with disabilities in relation to access
- Prohibit sexual harassment
- Participation and training in employment.
Discrimination is outlawed by employers, a trade union, an employment agency, vocational training body, a professional body or a newspaper advertising job.
The act provides protection for employees in both the public and private sectors, including applicants for employment training. It enables employers to put in place some positive action measures in order to promote equal opportunities on gender grounds. It also enables positive actions focusing on over 50’s, individuals with disabilities and members of the travelling community.
The Equal Status Act, 2000 was amended by the Equality Act of 2004. They are now known as Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004.
This act sets out a principle that everyone has a right to participate in the society. Individuals shouldn’t be excluded access to services or facilities because of their age, gender race, a disability, religion or being a member of a travelling community. Everyone should be of equal worth and should always be treated on merits and not on the basis of a stereotype.
The act applies to people who obtain and sell a wide variety of goods or those who use or those that provide a wide range of services.
It isn’t only about people who encounter discrimination, it also sets forward the obligations imposed on the owners and operators of businesses.
Equality Act 2004 strives to enforce the EU Race Directive. This prohibits discrimination.
In 1999, the National Disability Authority Act was undertaking in order to underpin a mainstream idea for the provision of services to people that have disabilities. Under this Act, the National Disability Authority which is an independent statutory body, was established.
The main legislation providing for the health and safety of people in the workplace is the Health, Safety and Welfare of the 2005 Work Act. This applies to all employers, employees and self-employed people in their own workplaces. The Act highlights the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.
Most of the health and safety laws apply generally to all employments and are contained in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2007.
The employer has a duty of care to ensure employees’ safety, health and welfare in the workplace. Obviously, as far as practicable. In order to prevent injuries or ill-health at the workplace, employers are required to do certain things.
All accidents in the workplace are required to be reported to the employer, the details of the incident are then recorded. Reporting an accident helps maintain social welfare and other rights that could arise as a result of an occupational accident. An employer is required to report any accident, resulting in the employee missing 3 consecutive days at work to the Health and Safety Authority.
An employer is required to carry out separate risk assessments when it comes to pregnant employees. If there are any risks to an employee’s pregnancy, the employee in question should have a change in post.
Time spent on health and safety leave is treated as if the employee is still in employment, this time can be included to annual leave. The employee in question is not entitled to take any public holidays that occur during health and safety leave. Employers must pay employees their normal wages for the first 3 weeks, after this time Health and Safety Benefit is paid.
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An employer should carry out a separate risk assessment in relation to an employee under the age of 18. The risk assessment is usually carried out before the young person is employed. If a number of risks are present, including risks which may not be able to be avoided, eg. lack of experience, the young person shouldn’t be employed.
One of the employer’s duties is to prevent bullying in the workplace. There should be procedures in place for dealing with complaints of bullying in the workplace and such complaints should be dealt with immediately. Ignoring complaints of bullying leaves an employer open to possible claims for damage by an employee. A grievance procedure should be set in place to deal with this kind of behaviour.
The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 have an obligation on all employers to prevent harassment in the workplace, under any circumstances. Under this legislation, you are entitled to bring a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission. In this case, your employer may be asked to pay compensation if you are harassed because of certain aspects such as, family status, gender, race, age, disability or religious beliefs
Violence towards employees should be addressed in the safety statement. Proper rules should be put in place to take away the risk of violence and the employee should be provided with appropriate means of minimising the remaining risk.
Under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, assault is a criminal offence. It is also an offence if one is made to fear immediate assaults. Assault cases should be immediately reported to the employer and can also be reported to the Garda. If there is a direct assault from the employer, an employee should go straight to the Garda.
The employer is required to tell employees about any risks that require the use of protective equipment. There should be protective equipment together with training on how to use it provided, where necessary. An employee has a duty of care to take a certain amount of care for their own safety and to ensure the use any protective equipment supplied. This protective equipment should be provided free of charge to employees if it is intended for use at the workplace only. Usually, employees are provided with their own personal equipment.
A trade union is an organisation formed to protect the rights and interests of the members it represents. It can:
- Be an important source of information for employees
- Provide employees with protection on employment matters
- Negotiate with the employer for better pay and conditions
It must have a negotiating licence in order to negotiate on employee wages and other conditions of employment. No employee can be dismissed from their job because they are a member of a union.
In practice, many terms and conditions of employment are negotiated between employers and trade unions on a collective basis.
Since 1st January 2018, under the National Minimum Wage Order 2017, minimum wage in Ireland for an experienced adult employee is €9.55 per hour. This act doesn’t stop the employer offering a higher wag to an employee.
The Maternity Protection Act, 1994 and 2004 entitles you to maternity leave. It extends to all female employees in the workplace, including casual workers. This is regardless of how long you’ve been working for the organisation or the number of hours worked per week. There is also an option to avail of additional unpaid maternity leave. There is 26 weeks of ‘paid’ maternity leave with an additional 16 weeks ‘unpaid’ which begins immediately after the end of the maternity leave.
A period of 2 weeks must be taken by the employee before the baby’s due date.
Employers should be given at least 4 weeks written notice of intention to take maternity leave. A medical certificate must also be provided confirming the pregnancy and if you intend on taking the additional 16 weeks off.
Under section 11 of the Maternity Protection Act, a pregnant employee needing to start maternity leave early, for medical reason must supply a medical certificate. Appropriate notice must be given of what dates maternity leave is due to start.
Fathers entitlement to maternity leave: New parents, excluding mothers, can get 2 weeks statutory paternity leave from employment following the birth or adoption of a child. This legislation came into effect on 1st September 2016.
The Parental Leave Bill, 2017 has increased unpaid leave from 18 weeks to 26, to be taken over the lifetime of children up to age 12.
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