Latest Updates

Accrual of Annual Leave

From August 1st 2015 Sec. 86 of the Workplace Relations Act entitles workers to accrue annual leave when on long term sick leave. Previously, under Sec.19 of the 1997 Organisation of Working Time Act, employees only accrue annual leave in respect of hours actually worked. However, under the new provisions, employees on sick leave will continue to accrue and retain annual leave for up to 15 months from the end of the leave year in which it was accrued. This entitlement is in respect of statutory annual leave only. The change in Irish legislation is in response to the European Union Court of Justice ruling on accrual of annual leave entitlements and will bring clarity in Irish law when an employee cannot take their paid annual leave due to illness. The amendment to the legislation will have the following effects:

• Statutory annual leave accrues during a period of certified sick leave.
• An annual leave carryover period of 15 months after a leave year will apply to those employees who could not, due to illness take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carry over period of 6 months.
• On termination of employment, payment in lieu of untaken accrued annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued. This amendment brings the Organisation of Working Time Act into line with recent rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU.

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Legal Updates

Whistleblowing Protection. 

The Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 on Whistleblowing Protection was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed by the President in July 2014.

The new legislation provides comprehensive whistleblower protection across all sectors of the economy and will co-exist alongside the existing limited protection available in certain sectors of the economy.

Protection is provided to a worker who makes a protected disclosure of relevant information to their employer, prescribed person (as prescribed by the Minister), Government Minister, legal advisor, trade union official or disclosure in other cases as set out the Bill. There is no mandatory requirement to disclose the relevant information to the employer at first instance; however the stepped approach to disclosure as set out in the legislation is designed to encourage workers to raise the issue internally. 

The protection available to workers protects against a resulting dismissal and any penalisation a worker may experience due to making a protected disclosure. The Bill introduces a number of amendments to the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977 to 2007; there is no service requirement to avail of the protection in the Bill, and the redress available for dismissal by reason of making a protected disclosure is increased from 104 weeks to 260 weeks.

The legislation places a statutory duty on public sector employers to put in place policies and procedures to deal with whistleblowing. However it is advisable for all employers to have a policy and procedures covering protected disclosures in place, including a clear reporting structure.

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