The Peninsula Employment Law Dictionary - 'M'

Peninsula Team

October 28 2011

We all know that employment law is a minefield. Sometimes it may feel like there is legislation for everything and often there are lots of ‘buzz-words’ specific to employment law being bounced around. You wouldn’t be on your own if you thought that employment law is like another language! In an effort to help employers wade through these buzz-words and parts of legislation, we at Peninsula have created our very own Employment Law Dictionary! It’s simple, concise and easy to understand. Each month we represent a letter of the alphabet and associate a few words in employment law with that letter. Marital Status- Marital status in an employment law context arises as one of the nine grounds of discrimination in Ireland, as outlined in the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2008. Discrimination can occur under this ground where differential treatment occurs on the basis that an employee, or potential employee, is of a different marital status. For the purposes of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, marital status includes being “single, married, separated, divorced or widowed”. Employers should also be aware that as of January 2011, this discrimination ground has been renamed to “Civil Status” and the definition has been extended as including “being single, married, separated, divorced, widowed, in a civil partnership within the meaning of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 or being a former civil partner in a civil partnership that has ended by death or been dissolvedMaternity Leave– Maternity leave is a period of statutory leave whereby a pregnant employee may take time-off from work around the birth of their child. Maternity leave is considered to be “protective leave”. As such, while it was initially introduced to protect the health and safety of employees, it is also aimed to ensure that such employees are not unfairly singled out by employers, such as in a redundancy scenario. This means that employees may not have their contract of employment terminated while on maternity leave and they must be guaranteed a return from maternity leave to the same position they occupied prior to the leave or, if this is impossible, to a post which is no less favourable than the post held prior to the leave. In Ireland, pregnant employees are entitled to take maternity leave for a basic period of 26 weeks irrespective of length of service or hours worked and they will also be entitled to take an additional 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave. During maternity leave and the additional maternity leave, with the exception of remuneration, the employee has the right to benefit from normal contractual terms and conditions of employment that she would have enjoyed if she had not been absent (including annual leave and public holiday entitlement). In this context "remuneration" has been deemed to include such things as company car, mobile phone etc.  The employee may be entitled to an Allowance from the relevant State Department (currently the Department of Social Protection) of Social and Family Affairs. Misconduct- Misconduct is behaviour that an employer deems inappropriate or unacceptable for an employee. Examples of the types of behaviours considered to be misconduct should be included in the handbook - although it should be made clear these are not all encompassing. The possible consequences of behaving in such a manner should also be made clear in the handbook. Misconduct usually relates to an employee's conduct during working hours. There are varying degrees of severity of misconduct from minor misdemeanours (which might include, for example, a lack of punctuality or using the company telephone for personal calls) through to gross misconduct such as stealing, violence or behaviour which jeopardises the safety of fellow employees.  

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