Farming, food and agribusiness specialist, Ifac, is advising farmers in Roscommon to be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to managing employees’ working time.
Mary McDonagh, Head of HR & Payroll Services at Ifac, has said: “Farmers, in common with other business owners, have a lot of responsibilities when managing employees, including monitoring each employee’s working time. If you employ even one person on your farm, you must keep an accurate record of their working time.
“Working hours are calculated based on the average number of hours worked per week over four months for most employees. It is over six months for employees working in Agriculture.
“Also, employees should not work more than 48 hours per week and employers must ensure that breaks and rest periods are adhered to”.
Employment law dictates that employers must keep an accurate record of their employees’ working time. When compiling working time records, farmers are advised to keep an eye out for any instances of employees exceeding the permitted working hours, by failing to take breaks or working excessive hours for an extended time for example. Any issues that you identify need to be promptly addressed.
The working time record should include details of each employee’s name, address, PPS number, employment contract and job title or role. It must set out the days and total hours worked each week, details of any leave granted to employees in each week by way of annual leave or in respect of a public holiday and details of payment made in respect of that leave.
The record must be retained for three years and must be in a format that can be readily accessed and understood by a Workplace Relations Commission officer.
Failure to keep an appropriate record is an offence which could result in an employer receiving a fine of up to €2,500 for each employee whose working hours record is found to be inadequate.
Another recent development for farmers to be aware of is the introduction of a Statutory Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect. This came into effect last year and contains three key provisions: The right of an employee to not routinely perform work outside normal working hours; The right to not be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours; and the duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours).
The code can be downloaded on the Workplace Relations Commission website.
Mary concluded: “In my experience, farm businesses often find that managing employees is one of their most stressful responsibilities but obtaining good HR advice can be a good way to achieve peace of mind”.