• Insights

Tips for the year-end for employers in Ireland

Written by
Lewis Silkin, widely recognised as Ireland’s leading specialist employment law practice
As the Christmas break approaches, here is a list of a few final ‘to dos’ for employers to consider before the holidays begin. 

Tip 1: Happy holidays

  • We all know that employees should take their holidays during the leave year but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. There are good health and safety reasons for taking holidays and employers should take steps to make sure employees have an opportunity to use up their holiday entitlement each year. Employees who don’t take their holidays during the leave year can only carry them over to the new holiday year if the employer agrees, and this leave must be used within six months of the carry over period.
  • If an employee has been on long-term sick leave and unable to take their full holiday entitlement, he or she is entitled to carry over the holiday for 15 months after the leave year. It is advisable to complete an audit of any outstanding holiday entitlement and speak to employees who have large amounts of untaken holiday to consider how best to take this leave before it is lost!


Tip 2: It’s my party!

  • Beware the free bar at the Christmas party! Employers can be liable for the acts of their employees at work-related events and behaviour can sometimes get out of hand where alcohol is involved. Free alcohol also runs the risk that the organisation is seen to endorse excessive drinking. Limiting the free alcohol will give everyone less of a headache the morning after the Christmas party and hopefully limit any bad behaviour!
  • Make sure that anti-harassment training is run regularly so that employees are clear on what standard of behaviour is acceptable at work events and in the workplace more generally.


Tip 3:  Working 9 to 5

  • A European Court of Justice decision earlier this year ruled that employers must keep a record of all hours worked by their workers each day in order to ensure compliance with the rules on working time (see here for details /insights/are-employers-now-required-to-keep-records-of-daily-working-time). The obligation for employers to record employees’ working hours and rest breaks has long existed in Ireland but is an obligation many employers are unaware of or do not comply with. As well as ensuring that employees do not work in excess of 48 hours per week, it can also identify if employees are likely to experience burnout or if others are not complying with their contractual obligations.
  • Consider conducting an audit of your working time records to check whether your records will pass a workplace inspection and that employees are working within the legal limits.


Tip 4: Gender pay gap reporting is coming to town

  • Employers with 50 or more employees will be required to publish a report on their gender pay differences. The reporting obligations will be introduced on a phased basis starting with employers with more than 250 employees. The reporting obligations cover part-time as well as full-time workers. For the purposes of reporting, pay includes bonuses and benefits in kind (benefits in kind are excluded from the figures in the UK).
  • Employers will also be obliged to provide a narrative explaining the reasons for any gender pay gap and the measures, if any, being taken to address that gap. If an employer fails to comply with gender pay gap reporting obligations, employees will be able to bring a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can bring a claim to the Circuit Court. The legislation is at an early stage but is likely to be passed next year and we will have a better idea of expected implementation dates at that time. In the meantime, employers would be wise to work out if they will be in scope and consider a ‘dry run’ to get an idea of what they will need to report.


Tip 5: An early gift from Santa: Parent’s Leave

  • In addition to parental leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoptive leave and carer’s leave, a new type of leave has recently been introduced called ‘Parent’s Leave’. Any parent of child born or adopted after 1 November 2019 is entitled to two weeks’ leave which must be taken within the first year of the child’s birth or adoption. Parent’s leave is expected to increase to up to nine weeks in the future.
  • This new leave is effectively a two-week extension to maternity, adoptive and paternity leave. As with these other types of leave, employers are not obliged to pay employees during the leave period but employees can apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for Parent’s Benefit. Eligible parents include: the parent of the child; the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child; the adopting parents of the child; the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting parent of the child; and a parent of a donor conceived child.
  • Parental leave also increased in September 2019 to 22 weeks for each eligible child. This must be taken before the child’s 12th birthday.


We hope all of your other Christmas lists include a little less employment law and that you have a well-deserved break before 2020 begins!

Catherine Hayes
Lewis Silkin Ireland LLP