Important HR and Legislative Updates for 2023 and beyond
Written by Rosanne Edger (MCIPD), Consultant HR Director, November 2023
As a business owner or manager are you aware of the various HR and employment legislation changes that have been happening over 2023 and those that are planned into 2024? In summary, please find below these changes.
To assist in your reading, within the heading, I have included details of which employers these updates impact i.e. All or details of company size.
Domestic Violence, Leave for Medical Care, Breastfeeding, Right to Request Remote and Flexible Working – ALL EMPLOYERS
The long-awaited Domestic Violence Leave will become a statutory requirement from 27 November 2023. This leave was enacted as part of the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023. This provides for up to 5 days fully paid leave in a rolling 12-month period. It covers employees who are either suffering themselves or supporting certain categories of person in a domestic violence situation. The time off is to allow them, or support someone, to gain the assistance needed. To assist employers the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth engaged Women’s Aid to write and provide guidance. As part of this, each month, they are running 1.5 hour information sessions for employers on this topic. You can register for these sessions at DV at Work - Domestic Violence at work.
Under this same Act we saw the Leave for Medical Care purposes and the extension of time off for breastfeeding, which are a legal requirement since 3 July. The Right Request Remote Working and the Right to Request Flexible Working are two further items covered under this legislation. Codes of Practice for these two items are still awaited.
Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 – All Employers
The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022 (also known as whistleblowing legislation) was implemented in 2022. This built on previous legislation and extended the definition of what constitutes a protected disclosure; who can make a protected disclosure; and what constitutes penalisation, among other things.
From 17 December 2023 the section of the act that deals with internal reporting procedures extends to those employers with 50 or more employees. If your business has 250 or more employees, since 2022, this was already a requirement. (There are certain other organisations that must comply regardless of size such as public bodies.)
To highlight some of the key items, all relevant organisations need to have a policy in place detailing the internal channel for dealing with such matters. The employer will have an obligation to diligently follow up with the complainant, with specific timelines applying for when the organisation should acknowledge the disclosure and when the full investigation into the matter should be completed and the complainant notified. It is important that relevant employers now review this legislation and if there are no set mechanisms currently in place, they must make arrangements to consider how best to implement these requirements into their organisation. For companies who already have policies and procedures in place, they must review these to ensure that they are appropriate and relevant to the legislation.
Budget 2024 Updates – ALL EMPLOYERS
The Budget introduced a number of items, you should be aware of from a HR and employment perspective.
Statutory Sick Pay, currently capped at 3 days has been confirmed as increasing to 5 days from 1 January 2024. Please continue to budget for further increases which are planned (but not confirmed) which would see increases to 7 days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026.
National Minimum Wage will increase from €11.30 to €12.70 from 1 January 2024. It is worth note that there is the concept of the Living Wage which for 2023/24 is currently €14.80.
Parent’s Leave is scheduled to see an increase from 7 weeks to 9 weeks in August 2024.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting – 50 OR MORE EMPLOYEES
Gender Pay Gap Reporting was introduced to employers with 250 or more employees in 2022. This extends to those with more than 150 employees in 2024 and to those with 50 or more employees in 2025.
Pension – ALL EMPLOYERS
Pension Autoenrollment remains on the agenda and while there are no definite dates currently set it is an important one for businesses to keep on their radar. It is currently thought that the Bill will be introduced in 2024 with a commencement date in 2025. When implemented, the current proposal will be for employees and employers to contribute 1.5%, with the State contributing 0.5% for circa 3 years; this will gradually increase over time until the employee and employer are contributing 6% with the State contributing 2%.
This will entail all employees being members of the pension scheme and contributing for a set period of time before they are given an opportunity to opt out. However, after a period of time, the employer will need to have them re-join the scheme. There are some limitations to those to whom this legislation will apply and currently it is anticipated that it will only apply to those aged between 23-60 and earning over €20,000.
Disciplinary Suspensions – ALL EMPLOYERS
From a practical and operational standpoint I also want to draw your attention to how earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled on the O’Sullivan v HSE which has called into question and provided guidance on how to view and administer disciplinary suspensions.
Here is some guidance resulting from this decision:
Consider alternatives to suspending an employee pending an investigation. It should only be considered in allegations relating to gross misconduct and where there is a risk of evidence tampering; protection of others or business reputation.
Meet with the employee and outline the reasons for the suspension. Listen to any concerns they raise and duly consider these.
The person who decided to suspend should not be involved in a later stage of a disciplinary process such as the investigation; disciplinary hearing or appeal.
Review whether the suspension remains a requirement on a periodic basis and keep the length of the suspension to a minimum.
Ensure your policy is adhered to and that the suspension is documented.
Suspensions for these reasons should be on full pay.
Contracts, Probation – ALL EMPLOYERS
While the European Union (Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions) Regulations 2022 was enacted in mid December 2022, it is worth highlighting here as it was a significant piece of legislation and it was 2023 when it was really being implemented by organisations.
In the main this covered contractual requirements in terms of the data that is required to be provided within the first 5 days of employment commencing; full contracts needing to be supplied within one month of starting; issuing contractual updates in the event a role/ terms change; capping probationary periods at 6 months except for very limited circumstances; as well as implications relating to prohibiting additional employment; mandatory work related training; the right to request a transfer to work of a more predictable and secure nature; and where working time is shift based an employer must notify employees at least 24 hours in advance of their working time (if that doesn’t happen employees are permitted, without fear of penalisation, to say no).
This article provides general guidance only. Additional advice should be sought in relation to the particular circumstances of your business.
Connect with me on LinkedIn for additional updates by clicking here Rosanne Edger | LinkedIn