Do I Have To Allow An Employee Bring Their Solicitor To A Disciplinary Hearing?

This week I will deal with some commonly asked questions about different HR Topics.

Q – Do I have to allow an employee bring their solicitor to a disciplinary hearing?

A – No, It is not necessary to permit legal representation at internal disciplinary hearings unless the matter is at a serious level and may result in the dismissal of an employee. In normal circumstances it is sufficient to allow representation by a colleague or trade union representative as per the Code of Practice on Grievance & Disciplinary Procedures S.I. 146/2000.

Q – Do I have to pay employees when out sick?

A – There is no legal requirement to pay employees whilst out sick and any sick pay arrangements should clearly be set out in the contract of employment.

Where a sick pay policy is in place it must always be applied consistently and deviations from the policy may lead to discrimination claims or the development of precedents that become binding.

Q – Are employees entitled to paid time off to attend funerals of relatives?

A – There is no statutory entitlement to paid bereavement/compassionate leave. It is a matter for employers to decide and again a clear policy on when paid leave will be granted should be drawn up and applied consistently.

Q – Can I stop employees using mobile phones and texting when at work?

A – Yes. The use of personal mobile phones at work impacts on productivity as well as being a health and safety risk in certain work environments. Employees should be informed that use is only allowed on personal break times and a clear policy put in writing explaining the consequences and that disciplinary proceedings may result in breaches of the policy.

Q – When can I terminate the employment of an employee on long term absence due to illness?

A – There is no fixed point at which an employee’s employment may be terminated due to illness and consideration must be given to the likelihood of the employee being able to return to work on a regular basis and the nature of the illness. In all cases prior to termination, consultation with the employee is essential as well as a review of relevant medical evidence. However, an employer is not obliged to hold a post open indefinitely.