How often should you review employee documentation?

Last updated: September 19th, 2022

While there is no set rule for how often an employer should review their employment contracts and documentation, a general principle is that they should reflect your current work practices.

After an eventful number of years, your workplace may be unrecognisable from the one you managed before the pandemic.

And while you’ve been busy focusing on managing the challenges these recent changes present, it’s possible updating your employment documentation has slipped down the list of priorities.

Here we look at some questions to help you identify any gaps in your employment documents….

Does your employment contract reflect current work practices?

Businesses evolve and are constantly adapting to consumer market trends along with labour market trends. The pace of change increased rapidly during the pandemic years and many employers had to react quickly to comply with government advice and to keep staff safe.

If your business intends to change any key terms in the employment contract in response to recent events, it’s important to first agree any changes with affected employees. You should give employees as much notice as possible of any proposed changes and the commercial rationale for any new terms.

Some key contractual terms that may need to be discussed and agreed include:

  • Location – is the position now remote or hybrid?
  • Salary – has salary been reviewed as part of any new working arrangements?
  • Duties and responsibilities – have duties and responsibilities changed as part of any new working arrangements?

Some employers include a variation clause in their employment contract which permits them to make unilateral changes provided there is a good reason for doing so. Even if you have a variation clause in your employment contract, any proposed changes to core terms of employment or work practices should always first be agreed with the employee.

Are your handbook and policies up to date?

From an employer’s perspective, the recent decrease in emphasis on managing public health has been replaced with a focus on recruitment and retention. As employers battle to attract and retain staff, more and more businesses have developed bespoke flexible work policies.

While these flexible work practices may be up and running day to day, it’s also important to have supporting employment documentation.

The employee handbook is an important document that runs alongside the contract of employment. An employee handbook will include work practices as well as policies and procedures.

Key policies and procedures would include:

  • Grievance and Disciplinary
  • Anti-Harassment (Dignity and Respect at Work)
  • Health and Safety
  • Whistleblowing

In addition, any new flexible work practices should also be included. Depending on how your business operates, these could be:

  • Remote working
  • Hybrid working
  • Compressed hours

From a business operations perspective, it’s a good idea to state that the employee handbook does not form part of the employee’s terms and conditions of employment. This will allow you to adjust your workplace policies without first securing employee consent.

Are recent changes in employment law reflected in your employment documentation?

There have been a lot of developments in employment law this year and company handbooks will need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the following:

  • The Sick Leave Act 2022

This new paid sick pay scheme was signed into law in July. From 1 January 2023, employers will have a legal obligation to pay up to three days of paid sick leave to any staff who are medically certified as unavailable for work due to illness or injury.

If you already provide more favourable sick pay benefits to employees, you will not have to take any action.

  • The EU Directive on Transparency and Predictability of Working Conditions

This EU Directive was due to be transposed into Irish law on 2 August 2022. The Directive sets out what employment terms need to be given to employees in writing and time limits for doing so.

While the Irish law transposing this Directive has yet to be passed, you will need to review your employment documentation as soon as the new law is passed.

  • Parents’ leave

This family-friendly leave increased to seven weeks this summer for working parents of children born or adopted after 1 July 2022.

  • Payment of Wages (Amendment)(Tips and Gratuities) Act 2022

The hospitality industry will need to be mindful of this new law which is due to come into effect this year. This law establishes rules around distributing tips, service charges and gratuities to employees. A statutory instrument is required to give effect to the act.

And finally, the Right to Request Remote Work Bill is still making its way through the legislative process. Should this law pass, employers will have to develop and maintain policies regarding the right of employees to request remote working arrangements.

Need help reviewing your employment documents?

If you want to know more about updating your employment documentation, speak to one of our experts on (01) 653 3663 or request a callback here.

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