Employment Law

employment contracts adviceWe have skilled employment lawyers who will make themselves available to advise you on the terms of your employment agreement.

Employment Law (Employers)

Go to information for employees

Our team regularly assist employers and employees with employment documentation and a range of problems in the employment relationship.

For employers this includes:

  • Preparing and advising on employment agreements.
  • Advising on and hosting disciplinary meetings.
  • Advising on a range of issues with staff with performance issues and long term absence.
  • Advising on issues around annual leave, holiday pay and maternity.
  • Advising and representing employers faced with complaint and personal grievances including unjustified dismissal complaints.
  • Redundancies.
  • Negotiating and preparing Records of Settlement.
  • Representing employers at mediation and in the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court.

Employment Agreements

Before you employ anyone, it is important to have a well thought out and constructed employment agreement. As your obligations continue throughout the employment relationship, it is equally as important to discuss these obligations with your lawyer before issues, such as employing or terminating employees, are dealt with.

How do I hire good employees?

Having good pre-employment practices will ensure that your business is seen as a positive place to work and interactions with your potential employees reflect the brand and values your business hopes to convey.

The first step is having a clear job description that accurately reflects the role you are hiring someone to fulfil.

You should to consider:

  • the tasks and duties you want the employee to perform;
  • any requirements such as prior experience or qualifications;
  • the job title;
  • how you will advertise the position;
  • how receipt of obligations will be acknowledged (for both successful and unsuccessful applicants);
  • likely pay rates; and
  • hours and place of work.

It is also important to have a fair and transparent hiring process, particularly in the interview stage, to ensure that you are not perceived to be discriminating on the basis of age, disability, family status, gender, marital status, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Do I need an employment agreement?

Yes.  It is a requirement under the Employment Relations Act 2000 that all employees have an employment agreement and that a copy of this agreement is kept by the employer.

This agreement sets out the essential employment terms, including whether the employment is permanent, fixed term or casual. We can assist in ensuring that the agreement you present to your employees contains the mandatory provisions and is up to date with the most recent changes to employment law.

We can also assist you in developing an agreement that is tailored to the specific needs of your business.

Many employment disputes  stem from issues with employment agreements so it is important to seek our advice before presenting an agreement to your employee to ensure that it is both compliant with law and suited to your needs.

What happens when an employee breaches their employment agreement?

You should take legal advice and follow a formal process before taking any disciplinary action when you believe that an employee may have breached their employment agreement.

Your lawyer can assist you in determining whether you have good grounds to bring disciplinary action and, if so, helping you establish a fair process to follow. They can assist in making sure you are aware of considerations the court has in determining the fairness of any dismissal or action, including:

  • whether you have sufficiently investigated the allegations against the employee before taking any action;
  • whether you have involved the employee in the process by first raising your concerns with them and then giving them a reasonable opportunity to respond before taking any action;
  • whether you reasonably considered any response given by the employee before taking any action.

Even where you have good grounds to initiate disciplinary action, it is important to follow a fair process that the employee participates in, otherwise you can leave open the risk of the employee rightfully raising a personal grievance. You should discuss these issues with your lawyer prior to taking any action.

Employment Law (Employees)

Go to information for Employers

Our team regularly assist employers and employees with employment documentation and a range of problems in the employment relationship.

For employees this includes:

  • Advising on employment agreements.
  • Advising on issues around annual leave, holiday pay and maternity.
  • Advising and representing employees faced with complaints around performance or long term absences.
  • Advising and representing employees with personal grievances claims.
  • Redundancies.
  • Negotiating and preparing Records of Settlement.
  • Representing employees at mediation and in the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court.

We have experienced employment lawyers who can assist before an employment agreement is signed and after issues arise in the employment relationship.

Our team can look over any proposed employment agreement, before you sign, and give advice on it, as well as informing you about your rights where issues arise and assist in dealing with your employer.

What should my employment agreement contain?

Every employee is required to have an employment agreement under the Employment Relations Act 2000. Your employment agreement must include:

  • the name of the employer and employee;
  • a description of the work to be performed;
  • the place of work;
  • the hours of work or arrangements relating to time of work;
  • wages or salary;
  • an explanation of the services available for the resolution of employment relationship problems.

Before you sign an agreement proposed to you, your lawyer can review it, explain the meaning of the clauses and advise on whether you should sign as is or propose amendments.

How can my employment end?

Your employment can come to an end for a variety of reasons. Your employment may end where you are made redundant, you resign, you are dismissed or where the employer’s business is wound up due to insolvency.

If you have any concerns about the way your employment has come to an end, your lawyer can discuss these with you and give you advice on any next steps, including raising a personal grievance.

What is a personal grievance?

A personal grievance is a grievance that the employee has against their employer or former employer. You may have a personal grievance under one or more of the following:

  • you have been unjustifiably dismissed (this can include where you have been forced to resign (known as ‘constructive dismissal’) or unjustifiably made redundant);
  • you have been unjustifiably disadvantaged in your employment;
  • you have been discriminated against or harassed in your employment.

If you believe that you may have a personal grievance against your employer, it is important to get in touch with us as soon as possible. The grievance must be raised with the employer within 90 days of the action giving rise to the dismissal occurring.

How do I let my employer know I want to raise a personal grievance?

The first step is usually raising the grievance with your employer within the 90 day timeframe. In ‘raising’ the personal grievance, you let your employer know that you have a personal grievance and you want them to address it.

If you and your employer cannot agree on how to resolve the grievance after you raise it, your lawyer can assist in engaging in mediation or other discussions with your employer to attempt to reach a resolution.

If you and your employer still cannot agree, your lawyer may advise you to apply to the Employment Relations Authority to have your grievance heard. The Authority acts much like a tribunal, hearing both sides and determining the outcome of your grievance – including any remedies.

Your lawyer can assist you at each stage in the process, including in discussing what remedies you seek, whether it be reinstatement (the preferred remedy where suitable), reimbursement for lost wages or compensation.

I want to leave my job – can my employer stop me from working somewhere else?

Your employment agreement is often the most useful tool in assisting your lawyer in answering your questions about employment law.

‘Restraint of Trade’ or ‘Non-Competition or Solicitation’ clauses are clauses which may be present in your employment agreement. Some employers include then in their employment agreement to protect them against employees leaving to join the competition and taking other staff or customers with them.

It is important to know that these clauses are not always enforceable – they have to meet certain requirements and not be unreasonable. For example, it is unlikely that your employer can stop you working for anyone else in that their field of work indefinitely.

If you are concerned about one of these clauses in your employment agreement, we can assist. We can advise on the enforceability of the clause in the agreement – and whether you would likely be bound by it – and raise any concerns with your employer.