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Tax Credits

Tax credits are payments from the government to help with everyday costs and are usually paid to employees through their employer’s payroll.  Employees are protected in law from being dismissed or subjected to a detriment for claiming or proposing to claim any Tax Creidit to which they are entitled.  

Frequently asked questions for Employers and Employees on Tax Credits is available at www.hmrc.gov.uk

Temporary Lay-off

Even in the best run organisation, circumstances can sometimes arise which lead to a temporary reduction in work. A carefully developed strategy for managing the recruitment and turnover of employees can help minimise the need for lay-offs or short time working.

When employees are not provided with work by their employer, and the situation is expected to be temporary, they are regarded as being laid off. There is a general right at common law to tell most employees not to turn up for work but there is no general right not to pay them because work is not available. Employees can be laid off without pay where there is a specific term in their contract allowing the employer to do so.

When employees are laid off, they may be entitled to a statutory guarantee payment from the employer. Payment is limited to a maximum of five days in any period of three months and the daily amount is subject to an upper limit which is reviewed annually.

Information note No.5 Temporary lay-off and short-time working

Employees Guarantee payment

Employers- Guarantee payment

Termination of Employment

A contract of employment may be ended by mutual agreement or by the employer or employee giving the required notice of termination. If the employer fails to give the required notice the employee can make a claim to the courts for damages for wrongful dismissal. Alternatively, if the employment has been terminated, a claim can be made to an industrial tribunal.

Where the employee leaves without giving the required notice, the employer may also have, in certain circumstances, a right to claim damages in the courts.

Either party can terminate the contract without notice if the conduct of the other justifies it e.g. an employee committing an act of gross misconduct may justify dismissal without notice. The full three-stage standard statutory procedure should always be used before deciding whether to dismiss. Resignation without notice (and a possible claim of constructive dismissal) may be justified where the employer makes a 'fundamental' or 'repudiatory' breach of the contract. Whether or not the breach is considered fundamental will depend on the particular circumstances but may include such actions as a reduction in pay, withdrawal of benefits or change of duties. In the event of a dispute, the question of justification can finally be determined only by the courts.

Employees

Notice and notice pay

Employers

Notice and notice pay

See also Discipline & Grievance and Dismissal

Time Off Work

Information Note No.11 Time Off - Rights and Responsibilities

Adoption leave

– See Family-Friendly Policies

Annual leave

– See Holidays

Antenatal Care

All pregnant employees are entitled to time off with pay to keep appointments for ante-natal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor. Ante-natal care may include relaxation classes and parent-craft classes. Except for the first appointment, the employee must show the employer, if requested, a certificate from a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor, confirming the pregnancy and an appointment card or some other document showing that an appointment has been made.

Dependants

All employees are entitled to reasonable time off work without pay to deal with an emergency involving a dependant; for example, if a dependant falls ill or is injured, if care arrangements break down, or to arrange or attend a dependant’s funeral.

Further details on circumstances when leave can be taken and the definition of a dependant can be found below:

Employees  

Time off for dependants

Employers

Time off to deal with emergencies involving dependants

Disciplinary or grievance hearings

Workers have the right to take paid time off during working hours to accompany fellow workers employed by the same employer to certain disciplinary and grievance hearings.

Employee representatives

Employees who act as representatives for consultation about redundancies or business transfers, or are candidates to be representatives of this kind, are entitled to reasonable time off with pay during working hours to perform these functions and to receive appropriate training. Further details can be found below

Employees

Redundancy: your right to consultation

Employers

The redundancy consultation process

Flexible working hearings

Parents of children under the age of seventeen (or disabled children under the age of eighteen) and carers of adults have the right to apply to their employer to work more flexibly. The employer has a statutory duty to consider the request seriously and to refuse it only if there are clear business grounds for doing so. If the employer and employee meet to discuss the request at a flexible working hearing then the employee can be accompanied by a colleague - who has the right to paid time off during working hours to attend.

Jury service

Jury service is a public duty. Unless someone is disqualified, has the right to be excused or has a valid reason for discretionary excusal then they must serve.

All Jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral register. Everyone on the electoral register from the ages of 18 to 69 may be selected even if they are not eligible to serve on a Jury. Some people never get called, others get called more than once.

Courts can pay for loss of earnings, travel costs and a subsistence rate during jury service. An employee can make a complaint to an employment tribunal if they are dismissed or suffer detriment for taking time off for jury service.

Maternity Leave (ordinary)

See Maternity Leave

Maternity leave (additional)  

See Maternity Leave

Parental leave  

See Family-Friendly Policies

Paternity leave

 See Family-Friendly Policies

Pension scheme trustees and directors of trustee companies

Employees who are trustees of an occupational pension scheme (as defined in Section 1 of the Pension Schemes (Northern Ireland) Act 1993) or directors of trustee companies are entitled to reasonable time off with pay to carry out any of their trustee’s duties, or to receive training relevant to those duties.

Public duties

Under certain circumstances employers must give employees who hold certain public positions reasonable time off to perform the duties associated with them.

This provision covers such offices, among others, as justice of the peace, prison visitor, members of a local authority, members of district policing partnerships, a statutory tribunal, and certain health and education authorities. Employers do not have to pay employees for the time taken off for public duties. Further details can be found below.

Employees

Time off for public duties

Employers

Time off for public duties

Job Hunting or to Arrange Training when Facing Redundancy

An employee who is being made redundant and who has been continuously employed by the same employer for at least two years is entitled, whilst under notice, to take reasonable time off with pay within working hours to look for another job, or to make arrangements for training for future employment.

Further details about time off for job hunting or to arrange training when facing redundancy can be found ibelow.

Employees

Time off for job hunting or to arrange training when facing redundancy

Employers

Time off for job hunting or to arrange training when facing redundancy

Safety representatives

Employees who are:

  • safety representatives appointed under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1979 by a trade union recognised by their employer;
  • representatives of employee safety elected under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, to represent employees not covered by the 1977 Regulations; or
  • safety representatives elected under the Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committee) Regulations 1989;

are entitled to time off with pay to carry out their functions and to undergo training. Further details of these provisions may be found in the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland’s (HSENI) booklet: ‘Safety Representatives and Safety Committees’, containing the Regulations and the Code of Practice on this subject.

http://www.hseni.gov.uk

Study or training

Employees aged 16 or 17 who have not achieved a certain standard in their education or training have the right to reasonable time off with pay to study or train for a relevant qualification which will help them towards that standard. Certain employees aged 18 have the right to complete study or training already begun. The study or training can be in the workplace, at college, with another employer or a training provider, or elsewhere.

There is no qualifying period of employment for the employee. Details can be found below.

Employees

Time off for study or training

Trade union duties and activities

An employee who is an official of an independent trade union which is recognised by the employer must be allowed reasonable time off with pay during working hours to:

  • carry out those duties as an official which relate to matters for which the employer has recognised the union, or any other functions which the employer has agreed the union may perform;
  • consult with the employer, or receive information from the employer, about mass redundancies or business transfers; or
  • undergo training relevant to those duties and which is approved by the Trades Union Congress, or the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, or the independent union of which he is a member.

An employee who is a member of an independent trade union, which is recognised by the employer, is entitled to reasonable time off for certain trade union activities. The employer is not obliged to pay the employee for time off for these activities.

The LRA Code of Practice – Time Off for Trade Union duties and activities provides guidance on the time off to be permitted by an employer.

Union learning representatives

An employee who is a member of an independent trade union which is recognised by the employer and who is a Union Learning Representative must be allowed reasonable time off with pay during working hours to:

  • carry out those duties that relate to Union Learning Representatives; or
  • undergo training relevant to the duties of a Union Learning Representative.

The LRA can provide guidance on the time off to be permitted by an employer for Union Learning Representatives see Code of Pracice.-Time Off for Trade Union duties and activitiesTime off for training representatives‘ 

Trade Dispute

Lawful Industrial Action can only be taken in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute – which is a dispute between employees and their employer which is wholly or mainly about employment related matters, such as terms and conditions of employment.

See Industrial Action

Trade Unions

A Trade Union is defined as, “An organisation (whether temporary or permanent), which consists wholly or mainly of workers…..and whose principal purpose include the regulation of the relations between workers…and employer or employers associations” (The Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992).  An Independent Trade Union is one which is not under the control of an employer or liable to interference by an employer.  

See Representation at Work

Employers Trade unions

Employees Trade Unions

Training

As part of its programme of promoting good employment practice and preventing disputes arising in the workplace, the Labour Relations Agency hosts a series of seminars and workshops led by experienced Agency staff. The seminars/workshops are designed to raise awareness of the provisions of legislation and to promote and develop good practice in the relevant area. The subjects covered reflect the Agency's experience in dealing with employment disputes through its advisory and dispute resolution services.

These events are held in the Agency's premises in either Belfast or Londonderry. There is no charge for attendance at any of these sessions.

Workshops and Seminars

Transfer of Undertakings

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 and the Service Provision Change (Protection of Employment) Regulations (Northern ireland) 2006 (referred to as TUPE) preserves employees' terms and conditions when a business or undertaking, or part of one, is transferred to a new employer.

Information note - No.6 Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)

DTI Guide http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file20761.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file20761.pdf

Information Commissioner’s Office: Data Protection Good Practice Note - Disclosure of employee information under TUPE

Treaty of Rome

The 1957 Treaty of Rome - signed by France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - established the European Economic Community.  It has been amended as new countries have joined the EU.  It is often referred to in the context of employment law in relation to Directives which are binding on member states and have primacy over member state’s domestic legislation.   

See also European Court of Justice (ECJ) and European Directives

Tribunals

Industrial Tribunals are independent judicial bodies in Northern Ireland that hear and determine claims to do with employment matters. These include a range of claims relating to unfair dismissal, breach of contract, wages and other payments as well as discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age and equal pay

The Fair Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial body in Northern Ireland that hears and determines complaints of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and/or political opinion.

http://www.employmenttribunalsni.co.uk/

Telephone Enquiry Point

The Agency’s Enquiry Point is available to employers, employees, trade unions and others. Enquiry Point advisors provide information and advice on a wide range of employment matters. The Enquiry Point is also an important contact point for identifying circumstances, or clients, who would benefit from being referred to other Agency services.

The Enquiry Point provides clear, confidential, independent and impartial advice to assist the caller in resolving issues in the workplace.

While the advisors cannot provide a legal opinion they can help callers gain a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as well as identifying possible options to help resolve their issues.

028 9032 1442

Monday - Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm

Contact Us

Please note that we cannot deal with employment-related enquiries by e-mail. To receive information or advice about an employment-related issue, please telephone our Helpline on Belfast 90 321442 where an officer will speak with you directly about your query. Please note that the Agency can arrange the services of an interpreter if required.

If you have an employment relations issue in Great Britain please contact the ACAS Helpline on 0300 123 1100 .

For all non-employment related queries or questions please fill in the box below.