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WHAT'S NEW?

 
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Every month the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court issue judgments about how employers and employees should treat each other. In "What's New" I give my opinion about interesting cases and I also comment on any other changes to employment. See below for the latest topics or search by month on the left hand side.

 



Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court lagging behind

November 2016
Considers compensation payments in the Employment Relations Authority, Court and other jurisdictions
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Recent developments in the Employment Relations Authority

November 2016
Considers recent developments in the Employment Relations Authority 
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Without prejudice - Not as easy as it sounds

November 2016
Tips on how to conduct "without prejudice" communications
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90 day trial period update

October 2016
A brief update on 90 day trials
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Restraints of trade and proprietary interests.

July 2015
Discusses what a proprietary interest is in the context of restraints of trade and provides examples
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Are restraints of trade legal?

January 2014
The short answer to this often-asked question is "Yes, but only if the restraint is no wider than the circumstances reasonably require."
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Independent Contractor or Employee?

September 2013
Checklist of differences between an independent contractor and an employee.
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Court warns: Avoid unpaid work trials

August 2013
This month, in The Salad Bowl case, the Employment Court warned that, if employers continue to engage applicants on unpaid trials, they risk being on the losing end of a personal grievance.
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The most common mistake employers make

June 2013
Before taking any disciplinary action against a worker the employer must give the worker an opportunity to explain. Many employers fail to follow this basic step.
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Redundancy - no longer the silver bullet

May 2013
Recent cases demonstrate a trend to make it much more difficult for employers to make employees redundant.
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Incompatibility - a reason to dismiss?

November 2012
It comes as a surprise to some people that an employee can be dismissed for incompatibility.
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Unbiased investigation

August 2012
Before an employer can dismiss someone, they have to carry out an investigation and give the employee an opportunity to comment on the findings of the investigation before a decision is made to dismiss. But what if the person making the decision is the same person who witnessed the events which are being investigated? Can such an investigation possibly be unbiased? What if the employer is just a small "one man band" who can't afford to engage an independent investigator?
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Confidential means confidential

July 2012
If you reach a negotiated settlement with your employer or employee, chances are it will contain a clause which says "The terms of this Settlement Agreement are to be kept confidential." In this recent case a penalty was awarded against an employee who breached such a clause.
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Casual work must be intermittent and irregular

July 2012
Case law says that an employee who starts out on a truly casual contract may, in law, become a permanent employee if their hours have become consistent and regular.
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High award in constructive dismissal

June 2012
Constructive dismissals are difficult for an employee to win, but in this case, the employer's behaviour was so abusive that the employee won and was awarded six months salary and $19,000 compensation for hurt feelings.
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Employer sues employee (2)

May 2012
Another case of an employer suing an employee.
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Employer sues employee

April 2012
Yes, an employer can sue an employee.
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90 day limit to raise a grievance

October 2011
An employee might be granted more than 90 days to raise a grievance if the employer has not given the employee a written employment agreement which explains the 90 days limit.
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Properly raising a grievance

October 2011
An employee must raise the grievance properly. This means the employee must explain to the employer what their grievance is (i.e. the facts that give rise to it), that it is a grievance and what remedies the employee seeks (e.g. lost wages and compensation for hurt feelings). Otherwise, the Employment Relations Authority won't hear the claim.
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Dignity in redundancy

October 2011
Even where an employer has genuine grounds for making a position redundant, and where the employer has carried out a proper consultation process, this may not be enough. The employer must also take care to allow the employee to depart with dignity.
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Employment Protection Clauses

August 2011
Since 2004, every employment agreement must contain an Employment Protection Clause, to protect the employee in the event of the employer merging or selling its business. A recent judgement of the Employment Court serves as a warning that these clauses must provide meaningful protection and not just pay lip service.
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Employment Relations Authority Practice Note

August 2011
The Employment Relations Authority has released a Practice Note, explaining the process and the rules which it will follow when investigating matters brought before it.
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90 day trial

July 2011
The 90 day trial law now applies to all workplaces, not just those with less than 20 employees, but it's not as easy as you think to dismiss an employee on trial.
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Employment agreement

July 2011
It is now law that an employer must provide every one of its employees with a written employment agreement, but what if the employee refuses to sign it?
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Minor theft

July 2011
In a recent case, an employee was found to be justifiably dismissed for theft, for removing a blank DVD. Is this serious enough to justify dismissal?

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Annual leave

April 2011
New legislation allows for the cashing-up of week's annual leave per year.
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