In my work as HR Consultant I meet a lot of companies as I solve staff issues for them. Very often when giving them advice on particular issues, like disciplinary issues it is wise for me to have a look at their contract of employment, just to make sure they are covered from all angles.
The answer I get time and again is that there is no need to look at our contract, it is fine and we have been using it for years. Still I insist on seeing the contract. Often there is a problem. Important clauses are missing or incorrectly worded. Sometimes it is just one piece of paper which states this is a contract of employment.
When I point out that it isn’t a valid contract, the answer is mostly: “Oh, but I really trusted the guy who gave it to us”. Yes, he probably is a nice guy, but he isn’t a specialist on employment legislation. He might have copied and pasted the contract from another nice guy and this is how you end up with something which will cause serious trouble when you don’t need it.
Once I saw a contract copied straight from the internet, it looked good at first sight but on inspection it turned out that it was a US Contract of Employment! This contract wouldn’t go down well before an Irish Rights Commissioner.
It used to be in Ireland that you didn’t need a contract of employment. It was all between employer and employee and whatever they had agreed, as long as it wasn’t too far off, was valid. This all changed when the EU Directive on Terms of Employment (Information) came into play and became Irish law in May, 1994. We have to face the fact that this piece of legislation is in play now for more than 18 years. Technically you don’t need a contract as a Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment covers you, but most companies use contracts, as contracts have the benefit that both parties sign it.
As a minimum the following items should be addressed in a Contract of Employment: –
- Full names of both employer and employee
- The address of the employer
- The place of work or a statement that the employee is required to work at various places
- The title of the job or the nature of the work
- The date of the commencement of the contract of employment
- In case of a temporary contract of employment, the expected duration or in a fixed term contract the date on which the contract expires
- The rate or method of calculation of the employer’s remuneration and details as to what intervals the payment of remuneration will be made
- Any terms or conditions relating to hours of work including overtime
- Any terms or conditions relating to paid leave
- Any terms or conditions relating to sick leave or for payment due to incapacity as a result of injury
- Details of pensions or pension schemes
- The period of notice which the employee and employer is required to give
- Reference must be made to any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of employment
- Employers are obliged to notify employees of any changes to their terms and conditions of employment as soon as possible but no later than a month thereafter
Furthermore an employer is required to hand over the company disciplinary and grievance procedure which need to be compliant with the Code of Practice of Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Most companies make this part of the contract of employment.
I presume you will dash off now to have a look at your contract, if you have any questions give a call at 065 7071933.