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Know your rights as an employee: Part 3

Last update - Saturday, September 1, 2012, 00:46 By Femi Daniyan

Basic employee rights (cont)The right to equal treatment and equal pay for like work –  The Employment Equality Act 1998-2008 and the Equality Act 2004 regulate the equality aspects of an employer/employee relationship. All employees have the right to be treated equally regardless of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability, race, religious belief or membership of the Traveller Community.

Discrimination on any of these nine specific grounds during the recruitment and selection process or in the workplace is unlawful. Discrimination may be direct or indirect or by association.
Furthermore, the act states that employees cannot be paid less than an equivalent employee doing the same job.
Like work is defined as work “that is the same, similar or work of equal value”. Equal pay claims may be taken on any of the nine discriminatory grounds.

The right to a safe place of work –  Employers are responsible for ensuring a safe workplace for their employees. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, every employer is required to prepare a safety statement based on a risk assessment of the workplace. This statement should contain an identification of any hazards that are present in the workplace.
In addition, it should contain an assessment of the risks arising from these hazards, and the steps that are to be taken to deal with these risks. The statement should also contain the details of the people in the workplace responsible for safety issues. If bullying or violence at work are considered potential hazards, the safety statement should identify them as such.
Employees should have access to this statement and employers should review it on a regular basis. The safety statement must be reviewed and brought to the attention of employees at least annually or on demand.
Employers must consult with employees concerning health and safety matters.
The right to receive a minimum amount of notice before dismissal and to bring an unfair dismissal claim –  Notice periods for redundancies and dismissals are regulated by the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973-2005. If you are an employee, you are entitled to a minimum amount of notice if your employment comes to an end. The act covers employees who have worked for their employers for at least 13 weeks. This is the legal minimum. However, your contract of employment may contain provisions for a longer period of notice.
Generally speaking, you are not protected from being dismissed by your employers, unless you are able to establish that the decision to dismiss you by your employers was unfair. In order to make such a complaint of unfairness you must have been an employee for a year or more. Furthermore, you are protected against dismissal on discriminatory grounds from the start of your employment.
The minimum notice provided for by the act is that if you have been employed for a period of between 13 weeks and two years you are entitled to a notice period of one week. If you have been employed for a period of between two and five years, you are entitled to a notice period of two weeks. If you have been employed for a period of between five years and 10 years, you are entitled to a notice period of four weeks. If you have been employed for a period of between 10 years and 15 years, you are entitled to a notice period of six weeks. If you have been employed for a period of 15 years or more, you are entitled to a notice period of eight weeks.

Continued next issue

Femi Daniyan is a barrister who practices in the areas of employment, immigration, professional negligence, probate, succession and family law amongst other areas. He is an advocate on human rights issues affecting minorities. He holds an MA in International Relations from Dublin City University.

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