National Minimum Wage:
The Government accepted the recommendation of The Low Pay Commission and has announced that an increase to the minimum rate of pay will take effect from 1 January 2018. The minimum rate of pay from 1 January 2018 will be €9.55 per hour. This corresponds to an increase of 3.2% on the current rate of €9.25 per hour. The Low Pay Commission recommended in June 2017 that the National Minimum Wage for an experienced adult worker should be set at a rate of €9.55 per hour. If your organisation uses the inexperienced worker rates these will increase pro-rata additionally.

Experienced adult worker €9.55
Over 19 and less than 2 years since first job €8.60
Over 18 and less than 1 years since began first job €7.64
Aged under 18 €6.69

SEO's:
The Sectorial Employment Order for the Construction Industry was signed by Minister Pat Breen. This order fixes the statutory minimum pay, pension and sick pay entitlements for craftsmen, construction operatives and apprentices employed in the construction Sector. The revised terms and conditions for the construction sector took effect from the date of the Order which was the 19 October 2017 and will apply to almost 50,000 workers in the sector. It is important that we keep on top of the relevant updated in relation to the Sectorial Employment Orders as to date they have gone largely unnoticed and publicised.

Retirement:
The issue of retirement is one which comes up regularly for employers and has attracted much recent attention due to case law. There is no single fixed mandatory retirement age for employees in Ireland. There is no legislative requirement for employers in Ireland to objectively justify mandatory retirement ages in contracts of employment but a number of rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("the CJEU") have held that a mandatory retirement age must be objectively and reasonably justified. The Equality Tribunal has departed from a plain reading of the Irish legislation and has published decisions that interpret our legislation in line with the CJEU's thinking. It has held in a number of cases that an employer must provide objective justification for the imposition of a mandatory retirement age, notwithstanding that no such requirement is provided for in Irish Employment Equality legislation. This leaves Irish employers in the unsatisfactory position of having to reconcile inconsistent Irish and European legal positions regarding the retirement issue. This will continue to be a fundamental employment issue moving forward so you should ensure that both your contract and handbook have an objectively justified retirement age.

Workplace Relations Inspections:
Workplace Relations Inspections (formerly NERA Inspections) have increased dramatically in the past 12 months across all sectors and in all geographical areas. It is important to note that we have seen increased unannounced and announced visits amongst our client base with a focus on items such as: rest breaks during the working day, rest breaks between shifts and under 18's compliance. It is vital that you ensure your current practices are in line with legislation to avoid potential fines, prosecution or publicity. Start the year afresh and contact The HR Suite can conduct a full audit of your HR practices to ensure that you are compliant with the relevant legislation as inspected by the WRC.

Data Protection:
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on the 25th May 2018, replacing the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) significantly increases the obligations and responsibilities for organisations and businesses in how they collect, use and protect personal data. The new legislation will include compensation for individuals whose data has been breached which was unheard of in the older acts. In addition, fines have increased of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover. This will be another element of the employment relationship that owners and managers will have to administer correctly and seek advice from a data protection specialist.

Company Policies & Procedures/Handbook:
The end of the year is always a good time to review your current Company Policies and Procedures/ Handbook and update as necessary. During the course of the year you have no doubt come across small to medium size issues that you wish to include in the handbook. This could range from an extreme weather policy in light of Storm Ophelia to clarifying the way in which staff purchases are permitted in your organisation.

If no updates are needed to your current Policies and Procedures/ Handbook, it is best practice to have them reissued to all staff annually. This aims to ensure that all team members are reminded of the policies that form part of their conditions of employment.

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us on 066 7102887 or visit www.thehrsuiteonline.com for more information.

Caroline