The Code of Practice has been prepared by IHREC with the approval of the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and after consultation with relevant organisations representing equality interests. The code seeks to promote the development and implementation of policies and procedures that establish working environments free of harassment.

The importance of always adhering to fair investigation procedures was highlighted in a recent Labour Court case that upheld the Complainant’s appeal of the quantum awarded of €2,544 made by an Adjudication Office, increasing the compensation payable to €5,000 (Ref UDD2167).

In this recently published decision, yet again an employer fell short on how it implemented a dismissal of an employee who, had less than 5 months service, resulting in an award of €6,000 being recommended despite breaching a clause that prevented her working in any manner outside of her employment that could be prejudicial to her employer. (Ref ADJ-00028843).

As the WRC and Courts have continued to highlight deficiencies in workplace investigation practices, and employers have to deal with the implications and costs of inadequate investigations, this short article summaries some key points to consider when setting up a workplace investigation.

The recently published Labour Court determination against Costa Coffee in respect of a sexual harassment case taken by a former employee should provide a stern reminder for employers in respect of their responsibilities to not only have in place appropriate anti-harassment and bullying polices, but to ensure that they are communicated properly and understood and that managers are fully trained in their responsibilities with regard to the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The standard time limit for submission of complaints to the WRC is generally six months from the date of the contravention that the complaint relates to as per Section 41(6) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015, and as per Section 41 (8), this may only be extended for a further six month period, if reasonable cause is presented for the delay.

This recent WRC decision highlighted the importance of a robust investigation stage that is not predetermined, when a betting shop manager from a retail and online gaming operation, was awarded almost €11k after being unfairly dismissed due to a number of procedural flaws in both the investigation and disciplinary stages. (Ref ADJ-00026144)

Whilst this is a decision of the UK Employment Tribunal, which upheld the summary dismissal of a lorry driver who refused to wear a face mask on a client site, it may provide some indication of how a similar case would be dealt with in the WRC. (Kubilius -v- Kent Food (Case Number: 3201960/2020)

With Google recently announcing plans for a fast tracked and earlier return to the office for its employees in the US, having previously being one of the first large tech Companies to go remote last year, many other employers are also now advanced with their planning on how they are going to manage this transition back to the office, and particularly how they will deal with employees who do not want to return. A WRC decision earlier this year may be of interest (Ref ADJ-00028293).

As the WRC and Courts have continued to highlight deficiencies in workplace investigation practices, and employers have to deal with the implications and costs of inadequate investigations, this short article summaries some key points to consider when setting up a workplace investigation.

The well publicised case last year in which three care workers in a nursing home were awarded a total of €150,000 for sexual harassment that was perpetrated by a resident, provides some useful reminders for employers on how sexual harassment complaints need to be managed in the workplace (ADJ- 00015039)

The recently published updated and unified Code of Practice on the Prevention & Resolution of Bullying at work places a helpful stronger emphasis on informal resolution of bullying issues that arise, as well as providing further clarifications on what behaviours do not constitute bullying.

With the publication of the government's strategy last Friday on remote working, which includes the planned introduction of the right for employees to request a permanent remote working arrangement, many employees will be delighted that this could be the case, with others desperately waiting for a return to the office, and to get out of the house again every morning. In the meantime, a quick reminder of some useful practical tips for making remote working as easy as possible, for as long as it will remain necessary, in the short term at least, under Covid restrictions.