HR won't provide clarification on paid paternity leave!?

ivorystraws

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Hi,

I'm hoping that someone can help advise on my situation.

I work for a large US organisation., with offices in many different countries. I am based out of the Dublin office but our payroll, admin, finance and HR functions are provided out of the UK office. I have made the HR department aware that my wife and I are due our baby soon and I've asked for clarification on paid paternity leave. I have referenced the company handbook, which states that all employees in the UK are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave at full pay and have asked what the process is for Irish employees to avail of this same benefit. However, to date, HR have only responded by stating that the company provides statutory paternity leave to Irish employees. They haven't clarified anything else.

Are they basically saying that my colleagues in offices throughout the UK are entitled to paid paternity leave but Irish employees (doing the same work in the same business unit) aren't, without providing any reason why?

I've escalated this query with the senior HR manager in the UK and her Manager (Head of HR Europe), without any response to date.

I've contacted the Workplace Relations Commission and they state that I may have a case of discrimination under family law if I wanted to submit a formal complaint. I wanted to get other people's advise or experience of the best option to take in this instance?

Appreciate any helpful thoughts or advise?

Regards,
Alan
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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The issue is whether the UK company handbook applies to Irish employees or not. Does the UK company handbook apply to Irish employees for other issues such as sick leave?

Ireland is a separate jurisdiction so it's not illegal for them to provide something above statutory minimum in UK but not in Ireland. But they would need to make this clear to all employees in advance.
 

ivorystraws

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The issue is whether the UK company handbook applies to Irish employees or not. Does the UK company handbook apply to Irish employees for other issues such as sick leave?

Ireland is a separate jurisdiction so it's not illegal for them to provide something above statutory minimum in UK but not in Ireland. But they would need to make this clear to all employees in advance.
The UK company handbook lists 4 entities that it applies to and the Irish entity is not listed. However, there is no company handbook for the Irish employees (yet).
That's a good point about sick leave as I'm not sure where that's detailed if the Irish employees don't have any company handbook to reference. Sick leave is registered in an online portal that only the UK and Irish employees have access to.
There is no clarity on what the Irish employees should reference when it comes to things such as paternity leave, sick leave etc. Nothing has been communicated to employees as regards this issue.

Thanks for your comments and helpful feedback. It's good food for thought but what are my next steps if I'm not receiving any formal clarification from HR, bearing in mind that it's not long before the baby is due i.e. less than 2 months.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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I don't really know what the legal situation is in that case. Maybe others can advise. It sounds like you're doing the right thing to escalate.

HR need to have a clear policy in place for Irish employees though or they are wide open to a legal challenge.
 

ivorystraws

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I don't really know what the legal situation is in that case. Maybe others can advise. It sounds like you're doing the right thing to escalate.

HR need to have a clear policy in place for Irish employees though or they are wide open to a legal challenge.
I did get clarification from a UK colleague that they use the same online portal that we use for logging vacation, sick days, compassionate leave etc.

I also got confirmation that the only reference that the Irish employees have regarding sick leave, compassionate leave etc. is the UK company handbook as there's no handbook that currently exists for the Irish employees to reference.

How can it be legal to have no company handbook that clarifies the above issues for Irish employees?

Can someone provide me with a recommendation for a legal representative who specialises in this area i.e. discrimination in the workplace?
 

llgon

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I've contacted the Workplace Relations Commission and they state that I may have a case of discrimination under family law if I wanted to submit a formal complaint.
I don't understand how you are you being discriminated against. You would need to be clear on who you are comparing yourself with and on what grounds the discrimination is based? Not sure what family laws are bring referred to either.

I think it will all come down to your contract of employment.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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How can it be legal to have no company handbook that clarifies the above issues for Irish employees?
Lots of small companies don't have detailed HR procedures. They only get in trouble if they disregard statutory obligations, or don't follow procedures that are fair and consistent for all employees. For example a firm with ten employees may have no written paternity leave policy. But they can't grant two weeks paid to employee #1 and then refuse it to employee #2 a month later, unless this is contractually stipulated.

It is unusual for a big company to be so slapdash though.
 

dereko1969

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How many Irish employees vs how many UK employees may determine whether or not a "company handbook" would make sense. Company Handbooks don't trump your contract.
You would want to be sure of your grounds before immediately escalating to legal action, do you wish to return to the job after paternity leave? Is there something else going on with your job that's making you ready to go for the nuclear option at (what seems) a very early stage?
 

cremeegg

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Fascinating thread.

I cannot help comparing the situation with when I was at that stage in life. The context here where there is a Senior HR Manager and the Seniors HR Manager's Manager and where there is a company handbook which may or may not be applicable, is bizarre especially when all that does not give any clarity an what must be a fairly common situation. What do these people do all day.

I think the biggest change is OPs attitude that these things should be there for him and there to support him.

When my first child was born "I work(ed) for a large US(K) organisation., with offices in many different countries" too. I told my immediate boss that I was taking a few days off and that was it. There was no question of my not being paid for that time or it being taken form my holidays. I would never have considered speaking to anybody beyond my boss. If there was an official policy neither I, nor I think my boss knew anything about it.

It seems to me that too much reliance on policies and procedure reduces rather than increases an employees actual position. Where there is a HR manager and a manager's manager, then a line manager is less likely to OK a few days off. Where there is a handbook you are unlikely to be given anything in excess of what it contains.

I suggest the OP just tells his boss what he intends and do that. After all if there are no rules you are not breaking them.
 

ivorystraws

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I don't understand how you are you being discriminated against. You would need to be clear on who you are comparing yourself with and on what grounds the discrimination is based? Not sure what family laws are bring referred to either.

I think it will all come down to your contract of employment.
The equality employment acts 1998 - 2015 prohibit discrimination under the nine grounds in employment, including family status I.e. I’m comparing myself against employees in a similar position to me, who can avail of paid paternity leave but I can’t?

How is that equality in the workplace?
 

ivorystraws

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Lots of small companies don't have detailed HR procedures. They only get in trouble if they disregard statutory obligations, or don't follow procedures that are fair and consistent for all employees. For example a firm with ten employees may have no written paternity leave policy. But they can't grant two weeks paid to employee #1 and then refuse it to employee #2 a month later, unless this is contractually stipulated.

It is unusual for a big company to be so slapdash though.
I agree but this isn’t a small company and it has thousands of employees in many different countries worldwide. It’s been in business a very long time.
 

ivorystraws

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How many Irish employees vs how many UK employees may determine whether or not a "company handbook" would make sense. Company Handbooks don't trump your contract.
You would want to be sure of your grounds before immediately escalating to legal action, do you wish to return to the job after paternity leave? Is there something else going on with your job that's making you ready to go for the nuclear option at (what seems) a very early stage?
I don’t want to escalate to legal action. I simply would appreciate formal clarification on what is being offered. If it’s only statutory, then I’d like to know why, when other employees in a similar situation to me receive paid paternity leave.
 

ivorystraws

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Fascinating thread.

I cannot help comparing the situation with when I was at that stage in life. The context here where there is a Senior HR Manager and the Seniors HR Manager's Manager and where there is a company handbook which may or may not be applicable, is bizarre especially when all that does not give any clarity an what must be a fairly common situation. What do these people do all day.

I think the biggest change is OPs attitude that these things should be there for him and there to support him.

When my first child was born "I work(ed) for a large US(K) organisation., with offices in many different countries" too. I told my immediate boss that I was taking a few days off and that was it. There was no question of my not being paid for that time or it being taken form my holidays. I would never have considered speaking to anybody beyond my boss. If there was an official policy neither I, nor I think my boss knew anything about it.

It seems to me that too much reliance on policies and procedure reduces rather than increases an employees actual position. Where there is a HR manager and a manager's manager, then a line manager is less likely to OK a few days off. Where there is a handbook you are unlikely to be given anything in excess of what it contains.

I suggest the OP just tells his boss what he intends and do that. After all if there are no rules you are not breaking them.
I have made my Manager aware of when our baby is due. He’s very approachable and helpful but there will need to be someone to cover in my absence and I don’t want to put him in an awkward position.
However, my focus is our new baby and to be around to help my wife as much as I can.
 

llgon

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The equality employment acts 1998 - 2015 prohibit discrimination under the nine grounds in employment, including family status I.e. I’m comparing myself against employees in a similar position to me, who can avail of paid paternity leave but I can’t?

How is that equality in the workplace?
So you would need to show that you have been turned down for the leave because of your family status. That doesn't appear to be the case from what you have described so far.

Those employees you describe as being in a similar position to you work in a different country, that's not one of the nine grounds.
 

Clamball

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It is very common for different branches of a company to have different policies. I am guessing your HR people have no clue (they probably don’t even realise that Ireland is not in the UK) so they have kicked your request further up the line. In the meantime they can just offer you statutory just as the HR lady said.

But if you country manager or CEO in Ireland says, all new dads get 2 weeks paid leave just like our colleagues in the UK then it will be sorted. So ask him/her for equality of policy with the UK. But he might decide to bring in the policy from 2020 onwards so be prepared to be disappointed as he will have to budget for it.

My local HR person is frequently wrong as she applies the wrong set of policies to us. We just have to be vigilant to keep her straight
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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If it’s only statutory, then I’d like to know why, when other employees in a similar situation to me receive paid paternity leave.
They may be 'similar' to you but they are in a different jurisdiction so you have no legal right to the same treatment.

Every multinational has different payscales, terms and conditions in different jurisdictions. These will be aligned to differing statutory situations but also reflect different cultural expectations and labour market realities which vary a lot from country to country.

I am not sure that you have legal recourse here. This is an administrative, internal matter for the company you work for.
 

ivorystraws

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So you would need to show that you have been turned down for the leave because of your family status. That doesn't appear to be the case from what you have described so far.

Those employees you describe as being in a similar position to you work in a different country, that's not one of the nine grounds.
I understand your point and it seems correct but I can't apply for paid paternity leave if they can't provide me with the process (since it's not available to Irish employees). Therefore, I'll never be turned down.
 

ivorystraws

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It is very common for different branches of a company to have different policies. I am guessing your HR people have no clue (they probably don’t even realise that Ireland is not in the UK) so they have kicked your request further up the line. In the meantime they can just offer you statutory just as the HR lady said.

But if you country manager or CEO in Ireland says, all new dads get 2 weeks paid leave just like our colleagues in the UK then it will be sorted. So ask him/her for equality of policy with the UK. But he might decide to bring in the policy from 2020 onwards so be prepared to be disappointed as he will have to budget for it.

My local HR person is frequently wrong as she applies the wrong set of policies to us. We just have to be vigilant to keep her straight
Most other legal entities, which are based in other countries, offer good benefits, including paid paternity leave. HR UK, that we deal with, don't respond to simple questions and don't deal with my request, which is why I escalated it. Statutory seems to be the only option available to Irish employees right now which I won't be applying for.

It's a good suggestion you make about asking the director to confirm the paid paternity leave although I do know that the site manager and director are actively working to negotiate benefits for Irish employees so that there will be equality in the workplace. This may not be done in time for the birth of our baby.
 

ivorystraws

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They may be 'similar' to you but they are in a different jurisdiction so you have no legal right to the same treatment.

Every multinational has different payscales, terms and conditions in different jurisdictions. These will be aligned to differing statutory situations but also reflect different cultural expectations and labour market realities which vary a lot from country to country.

I am not sure that you have legal recourse here. This is an administrative, internal matter for the company you work for.

Thanks for clarifying those aspects.

I've worked for multinationals and I agree with your statement somewhat although I know that it makes no business sense to have drastically different benefits for employees in a certain jurisdiction as that demotivates staff and drives staff turnover, which is what's happening anyway. The other multinationals I worked for did try to ensure the T&C's received were fair.

Is it still simply an administrative if the Irish employees don't have a reference for the benefits available to them and that this hasn't been clarified with all Irish employees?
 
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