An Employee or Self-employed contractor?

In most cases it may be clear who is an employee in Ireland. In some cases, a business anxious to avoid employment legislation, tax and social insurance may insist that all people working for the firm are self-employed rather than employees. If any person considers themself to be an employee, the Irish Department of Social Affairs has prepared a guide to determining the status of employees under Irish tax law, and this guide is included in our Useful Links Section.

Avoid the Hidden Costs of Business

Any employee, whether on a fixed term contract or in permanent full-time or part-time employment can avail of the protections of legislation in some cases after six months and in the case of a claim for unfair dismissal, once they have been in continuous employment for more than one year.

The issues concerning business and employment in Ireland are usually best dealt with by a properly drafted Employment Contract. In addition to the rights of employees already mentioned employers face significant risk of having to compensate their employees under one of the many pieces of legislation available to them if they do not protect their business properly by:

  • Ensuring all employees are clearly regulated by the terms of a written contract of employment
  • Adopting clearly defined and specific job roles within the business for the purposes of making positions redundant, if the need arises.
  • Adopting a clear IT, email and Internet Usage Policy
  • Adopting a clear IT/Intellectual Property ownership policy to protect the trade secrets and business assets of the business
  • Adopting a clear anti-discrimination procedure and policy of conduct for employees
  • Adopting a process for dealing with complaints of harassment and bullying within the workplace
  • Adopting a clear, transparent and effective complaints and disciplinary procedure and a dismissals process within the company.

A properly drafted contract of employment should incorporate all of the above policies and terms and should insulate the business from significant costs. For employees who have already commenced, the policies can be introduced separately at a later point so long as the introduction of the relevant policy is clearly communicated to all staff members at which point it will be deemed to be incorporated into their existing contract of employment.

A business owner then must also consider protecting its worth by protecting its intellectual property so that sensitive business information is not shared directly or indirectly with competitors. Again this should naturally form part of the Employment Contract and the disciplinary process, but in addition, businesses may consider some form of monitoring of their employees’ actions and computer use so that they may identify any activities of employees that would expose the company to a loss of its sensitive confidential information. In any such instance, a business would need to inform its employees that it is performing a monitoring of its e-mails and if necessary internet usage. Any business seeking to do so must do so on a proportionate basis and do so in accordance with Irish Data Protection legislation. In addition, the business in question should have a clearly drafted acceptable internet usage policy and e-mail policy. Both of these should be in written form and should be passed to each of the employees at the start of their employment or as soon as the policy has been introduced to the business.

Properly incorporated policies and procedures are also important when considering the sale of any business. For more on this see our Commercial Law section.

We have available comprehensive and legally compliant policies and procedures for all businesses. We are also available for review and consultations on existing policies to ensure that they meet the needs of the business and the minimum standards required to be effective.