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Conducting Fair and Robust Workplace Investigations

This summary article provides some essential guidance on some of the key preliminary steps that should be taken to ensure that a workplace investigation process is robust and can stand up to scrutiny in the event that it leads to further action being taken under the disciplinary policy or findings of misconduct such as bullying and harassment being made against employees.

Waiver Agreements

In a recently published case (ADJ - 00000575), an Adjudication Officer found as a preliminary issue that he had no jurisdiction to hear a complaint of unfair dismissal as the claimant had not been pressured into signing a waiver and had been afforded the opportunity to seek legal advice which he had declined.

Retirement Ages

Retirement issues continue to be problematic and costly for many employers. This short article deals with some of the typical queries that I get on this issue.

Returning From Maternity Leave

A hotel manager was awarded €12,000 for a breach of Sections 30 and 31 of the Maternity Protection Act 1994 when the terms of her role were changed and diminished significantly to what they had been prior to her going on a protected period of maternity leave (ref ADJ - 00001298). Two other claims in respect of alleged discrimination were not upheld in respect of not being able to apply for a new senior role and a changed roster.

Paternity Leave

Under the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016, a "relevant parent" is now eligible to take two weeks paternity leave within 26 weeks of the birth or adoption of a child.

Can abusive comments posted on Facebook outside of work by colleagues constitute harassement ?

The scope of Dignity at Work Policies is that behaviours complained about must have occurred in the course of employment. This scope does not always cover the personal use of social media outside of work and it is an interesting issue that was dealt with by the Labour Court recently in Dublin Bus v McCamley (EDA 164). This was an appeal by an employee of an Equality Tribunal Decision ( DEC E2015 - 100) which had found that his employer was not liable for harassment that had occurred.

Golf Ranger awarded €4000 for unfair dismissal on his 4th day of work.

A newly recruited golf ranger was dismissed on his second weekend of work without any notice after commencing a six month fixed term contract on 18th April 2015. As he did not have the required 12 months service to take a claim under the Unfair Dismissal legislation the complaint was brought under the Industrial Relations Act 1969 (Ref ADJ - 0000066).

Spent Convictions and Garda Vetting

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 has changed the scope of what individuals are obliged to disclose to employers concerning prior criminal convictions.

Keeping Staff on Maternity Leave Informed of Internal Promotion Opportunities

Justice Robert Eagar in the High Court judge has found that the Defence Forces breached an European Directive with regard to the provision of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in relation to employment matters, by excluding a female employee from a promotion process when she was on maternity leave.

Conducting Fair Work Place Investigations & Disciplinary Hearings

This article will look at two cases that provide useful learning points on how to conduct fair investigations and disciplinary hearings in the workplace including the need to keep the investigation and disciplinary processes separate.

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