A phrase often heard in New Zealand is that ‘managing 400 cows is easy, managing an employee is the difficult part’.

With dairy expansion evident right across the Ireland it is in this context that Teagasc held a series of three labour management workshops during July. Important messages emerged for dairy farmers employing or planning to employ labour.

Management consultant, Nollaig Heffernan, differentiated between job description (what the job entails) and job specification (what is needed to do the job) and posed the question as to how many farmers actually know with great clarity what they want the employee to do.

Agricultural solicitor, Aisling Meehan, advised farmers of the legal requirement to provide a contract of employment to each employee, a payslip showing the gross wage and details of all deductions, a copy of the Farm Safety Statement and a copy of the written grievance and disciplinary procedures to be followed.

Kevin Connolly, Teagasc Financial Management Specialist, reminded farmers to agree a gross pay with employees, rather than a net ‘take home’ pay as by agreeing a net pay with an employee, the farmer is agreeing to pay the employee’s PAYE/PRSI for them.

Further materials from these workshops will be made available through the Teagasc website before the end of 2014. In the meantime, a number of useful guides, booklets, and templates can be found on the NERA website (www.employmentrights.ie) or the Citizens Information website (http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/).