Personal Legal Expenses Insurance

“What have Dolly Parton, Rose Royce and the Seven Dwarfs got in common? They all sang songs about working conditions.

We’re told that we are emerging from one of the worst recessions of recent times, but has much changed in the past few years? You would have thought so. According to the Central Statistics Office the unemployment rate is currently down to 5.6%, so we’re living in an economy at near full employment; cranes and construction sites dominate the skylines of our towns and cities; and start-ups, software houses, cafés and SMEs are popping up like spring daffodils. Given all of this, you might expect everything to be rosy in the employment world, but this is not necessarily the case.

Legal Expenses Cover

Let’s go back to those songs; the dwarves sang “We work all day we get no pay,”: Dolly reasoned “You would think I would deserve a fair promotion,” and, as for the carwash, “This ain’t no place to be if you planned on bein’ a star.” Not all ringing endorsements of working life, but things have changed, right? So, who are the employee’s guardians today?

Established on 1st October 2015, The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent body mandated to promote the “…improvement and maintenance of good workplace relations, while also encouraging compliance with relevant legislation”. Part of its service is to provide information to the public on employment legislation, and the state of the employment market today.

Extracts from their latest published annual report (2017) make for interesting reading:

  • Received 14,001 complaints – on a par with the previous year;
  • The number of complaint files rose by 8% over the previous year to 7,317;
  • At 27% of all complaints, ‘Pay Issues’ remain their top topic;
  • Adjudication hearings were up by 24% to 4,370;
  • And the number of adjudication decisions issued was up by 82% to 2,247;
  • €1.8m in unpaid wages was recovered – up by 8%; and
  • And they received 1.65m hits on their website – again, up by 8%.

Changes

With workplace legal issues seemingly on the rise, it’s more important than ever that employers are aware of both their rights and obligations, and those of their staff. And recent changes applicable from the 4th March 2019 under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 mean that employers must be very clear with their employees in relation to their employment rights and duties. Employers who don’t comply could face serious penalties.

Employers must supply employees with a written statement of five core terms within five days of them starting, stating:

  • The full names of the employer and the employee;
  • The address of the employer;
  • The expected duration of the contract (where the contract is temporary or fixed term);
  • The rate or method of calculating pay and the pay reference period (e.g. a week, a month);
  • What the employer expects the normal length of your working day and week to be.

Employees must then receive a written statement of the remaining terms of employment (their contract) within two months of starting work, in accordance with the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994–2014, and failure to do so may lead to an adjudication officer issuing a fine of up to €5,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months.

Employers will also need to audit existing contracts of employment and identify groups of employees who frequently work in excess of their contracted weekly hours to ensure contractual hours match up to hours actually worked. The review should also make sure that contracts are up to date and relevant to the positions they currently hold. This may sound quite basic, however you would be amazed by the number of employees whose contracts are not reflective of their position.

Summary

While in some respects we are living in a buoyant economy, the need for increased clarity and understanding between employer and employee is evident, and has stepped up a gear through the formal platform of the WRC. Employers will need to look at their working practices and conditions in order to retain staff, or face the possibility of falling foul of the WRC and the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018.

For further assistance please contact DAS for clarification on any of these issues. For advice on working musical references into advertorial content, we can only suggest you look elsewhere…”

Commercial Legal Protection Cover

Employment Disputes Cover – Legal costs covered where a policyholder faces a claim by an employee, ex-employee or prospective employee in an employment tribunal or court.

Financial Compensation Awards – where the policyholder has sought and followed the advice of DAS in dealing with an employment dispute, from as soon as they were aware there was an issue, the policy will also pay any compensation amount awarded by the tribunal or court.

Legal Defence – the policy provides legal representation to defend the policyholder in the event of a criminal prosecution by the Health & Safety Authority following a workplace accident or incident.

Tax Protection – where a policyholder is notified of a revenue audit, and contacts DAS as soon as they are aware of an upcoming audit, DAS will pay the reasonable costs of the policyholder’s accountant to conduct the audit.

Property Protection – where a policyholder’s premises or property is damaged by a third party DAS will represent the policyholder to pursue the third party for compensation or cost of repair/replacement.

Bodily Injury – when an employee of the policyholder is injured on a third party premises in the course of their work we will assist in making a claim for compensation through the Injuries Board, or will provide representation in court if warranted.

Debt Recovery (Optional) – DAS will pay the legal costs to pursue an undisputed debt owed to the policyholder for goods or services provided.  The amount owed must be in excess of €750.

Statutory Licence Protection (Optional) – Where a business needs a licence to operate (Pub, Pharmacy, etc) the policy will pay the legal costs of any appeal process following a decision by the licencing body which affects the policyholders licence.

Contract Disputes (Optional) – where a dispute arises over a contract entered into by the policyholder for the purchase or sale of goods DAS will pay the legal costs of representing the policyholder.  This does not have to involve the core business of the policyholder – it may be a dispute with a supplier of machinery, office furniture, etc.

Helplines

  • Commercial Legal Advice – 24/7 legal advice line available to the policyholder should they have any legal queries.
  • Counselling Helpline – Confidential counselling service over the phone which is available to all policyholders, their employees and families. Not restricted to work issues but useful to give as a staff benefit.  The calls to the Counselling Helpline are not recorded.

Online Employment Manual – Access to an employment manual on www.das.ie which outlines all relevant employment legislation and the duties of employers.

Limit of Indemnity – €150,000 per insured incident.

Contact Padraig Fitzgerald, Managing director of PJ Fitzgerald Insurance at padraig@pjfitzgerald.ie or phone 021 4772332 for further details.