JANUARY 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
The Legal Quality Standard of Ireland
JANUARY 2023 – ARTICLES & ITEMS OF INTEREST
SICK LEAVE ACT 2022
Since 1 January 2023 the Sick Leave Act 2022 is applicable to all employers in both the public sector and private sector. Employees have a right to 3 days’ sick pay a year. This is called statutory sick pay (that means the legal minimum). Sick pay is paid by an employer at 70% of the normal pay up to a maximum of €110 a day.
An employee must be working at least 13 weeks with an employer before they can get statutory sick pay.
The entitlement to paid sick leave is being phased in over 4 years:
- 2023 – 3 days covered
- 2024 – 5 days covered
- 2025 – 7 days covered
- 2026 – 10 days covered
The sick pay year is the calendar year, so it runs from 1 January to 31 December.
Under the sick leave legislation, an employee must be certified by a GP as unable to work to qualify for statutory sick pay. An employee should be certified from day 1 of their sick leave.
To view the legislation see https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2022/act/24/enacted/en/html and for more information see https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/leave_and_holidays/sick_leave.html
NOTE TO EMPLOYERS – Firms should ensure their policies/employee handbook include this new entitlement. Failure to comply with this legislation risks a WRC claim being made by an affected employee with the possibility of an employer having to pay up to 4 weeks’ remuneration as compensation for a successful claim.
TRANSPARENT AND PREDICTABLE WORKING CONDITIONS REGULATIONS 2022
On the 16 December 2022 the government announced the transposition of EU Directive 2019/1152 on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions by way of secondary legislation under the European Communities Act 1972. This brings the Directive into national law.
The Government Press Release states “Transposing the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive into Irish law will give all workers:
- more complete information on the essential aspects of the work, which is to be received early by the worker, in writing,
- a limit to the length of probationary periods at the beginning of a job,
- the right to seek additional employment, with a ban on exclusivity clauses and limits on incompatibility clauses,
- the right to know in a reasonable period in advance when work will take place – that is, for workers with very unpredictable working schedules, as in the case of on-demand work,
- anti-abuse legislation for zero-hour contract work,
- the right for employees to request to be transferred to a form of employment with more predictable and secure working conditions where available and receive a reasoned written reply,
- the right to receive mandatory training, cost-free, that is required to carry out the work for which he or she is employed.”
To view this Press Release in full see https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/a411b-minister-damien-english-announces-government-approval-for-transposition-of-eu-directive-on-transparent-and-predictable-working-conditions/
NOTE TO EMPLOYERS – Review both existing and future employment contracts to ensure they comply with the new legislation.
GENDER PAY GAP
The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 required all businesses with more than 250 employees to publish a report by the end of December 2022 with information about their gender pay gap on a “snapshot” date in June 2022. On the 16 January 2023 Connor Beaton, Editor of the Irish Legal News published an article analysing data from Ireland’s six largest law firms which revealed pay gaps ranging from 61 per cent to 40 per cent when equity partners are taken into account. Ms. McNicholl, Chairperson (Irish Women Lawyers Association) told Irish Legal News: “We have long known there is a gender pay gap but this is the first time we have had the data to evidence it and now it is indisputable. The figures tell the story of the attrition of women from the workplace and the unbalanced distribution of caring responsibilities.”
To view the article in full see https://www.irishlegal.com/articles/gender-pay-gap-of-up-to-61-per-cent-at-largest-irish-law-firms
NOTE TO EMPLOYERS – Reporting obligations will extend to organisations with over 50 employees over the coming years.
PROTECTED DISCLOSURES (AMENDMENT) ACT 2022
On the 12 October last the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath signed the commencement order for the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022. The order set the 1 January 2023 as the date upon which the Act will commence in its entirety.
From the 1 January 2023 private sector employers with 250 or more employees are required to establish formal reporting channels for workers to report concerns about wrongdoing in the workplace. Employers with between 50 and 249 employees have a “transitional period” that runs until December 2023 when these reporting channels will need to be set up.
To view the act see https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2022/act/27/enacted/en/html
WORK EVENTS INVOLVING ALCOHOL – THE RISKS AND HOW TO MINIMISE THEM
NOTE TO EMPLOYERS – In March 2022, Lloyds of London member Atrium Underwriters received a £1m fine after a “boys’ nights out”, in which senior staff participated in lewd behaviour. In another instance of an alcohol fuelled event, an auditor at PwC has launched a High Court claim after he suffered a head injury after taking part in a pub golf drinking game, during which staff were encouraged to down drinks in as few mouthfuls as possible.
Barrister Sarah Clarke has written a paper titled “Work Event involving alcohol: The risks and how to minimise them”.
PHISHING ATTACKS AND CYBER SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS FOR COMPANIES
Quarter One Cyber Matters Newsletter produced by O’Leary Insurance on the 9 January 2023, highlighted several issues including:
- Phishing – the newsletter details how a small firm with less than 5 employees was a victim of a phishing attack resulting in a €1million + loss. In this case the company’s emails were compromised and a very small number of their clients were duped into sending monies to cybercriminals.
- Cyber security considerations for companies – the newsletter details 2 recent cases involving data breaches, how they were dealt with by the company and the resulting consequences faced by the companies. O’Leary’s state “Cybersecurity is now indisputably an established risk to most businesses. It simply must be dealt with as a top level issue within the boardroom. If the worst case scenario occurs, affected companies need to be able to prove that they took reasonable steps to avoid such incidents and to protect any customer, employee or third party data which is under their control.”
To view this newsletter in full see https://www.olearyinsurances.ie/contentFiles/newsFiles/Q1_2023_Cyber_Matters_Newsletter.pdf
WITNESSING SIGNATURES – SOLICITOR STRUCK OFF FOR FALSE CLAIM
On the 26 January 2023 it was reported on the website of the Law Society of England and Wales how a solicitor who falsely confirmed they witnessed a signature on a lease was struck off the roll.
The solicitor admitted that the witness was not actually present at the time, and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found the allegation proved in full, including finding the solicitor to be dishonest.
The following are extracts from the SDT finding:-
- By signing to confirm that the absent witness had signed in their presence, the solicitor had made a false statement.
- In doing so, the solicitor was in breach of Principle 6 of SRA Principles 2011 (operational at the time), by failing to “behave in a way that maintained the trust the public placed in solicitors and the provision of legal services”.
- Dishonesty was alleged as an aggravating feature of the misconduct and, under Principle 2 of the 2011 Principles, it was found that the solicitor did not “act with integrity”.
- The SDT said the public “would expect higher standards of solicitors” and was satisfied that the solicitor’s conduct would be considered dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.
- The tribunal found the allegation of dishonesty proved.
- Costs were assessed at £20,850 but reduced to £1,800 to reflect the solicitor’s means. The solicitor was struck off.
To view this article in full see https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/regulation/witnessing-signatures-solicitor-struck-off-for-false-claim
THREE SOLCITORS JAILED ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
It was reported on the website for the Law Society of Scotland how three former solicitors were jailed on charges related to money laundering.
All three solicitors were found guilty of being involved in serious organised crimes and/or offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They allowed nearly £1.5m of “dirty money” to be channelled through their firm of which one of them was the MLRO. Their defence claimed they had been duped and targeted.
Two of them were sentenced to seven years and the other in excess of seven years.
To view this article in full see https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/legal-news/three-solicitors-jailed-on-money-laundering-charges/
PERSONAL INJURIES RESOLUTION BOARD ACT 2022
The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Act 2022 was enacted on the 13 December 2022 and awaits commencement.
The Act amends and extends the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, to provide that the Board may make provision for a mediation process in respect of relevant claims, to provide that the Board may appoint mediators and may make rules in relation to the mediation process, to amend the procedures in relation to the assessment of claims where a long term prognosis is awaited, in relation to the imposition and charging of fees and in relation to costs in proceedings where an assessment has not been accepted by the claimant, to amend the functions of the Board, to provide for an offence of providing false or misleading information in certain circumstances, to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2014.