Sunday, February 18, 2018

Know Your Rights: Maternity leave



Question
I recently started working in a new job on a part-time basis. I have just learned that I am pregnant – will I be entitled to maternity leave?

Answer
If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to take maternity leave. The entitlement to a basic period of maternity leave from employment applies to all female employees (including casual workers), regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours you work per week.

You are also entitled to additional unpaid maternity leave. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work, including maternity leave.
You are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave together with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave.

Your entitlement to pay and superannuation (pension payments) during maternity leave depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay women who are on maternity leave. You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) if you have enough PRSI contributions. However an employee’s contract could provide for additional rights to payment during the leave period, so that, for example, the employee could receive full pay less the amount of Maternity Benefit payable.

If you have a dispute with your employer about maternity leave or if you have been dismissed due to a matter connected with your pregnancy or for claiming your rights under maternity leave legislation, you may make a complaint within six months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further six months, but only where there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.
You should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before your baby's due date. Apply to the Maternity Benefit Section of the DEASP.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Know Your Rights: Online dispute resolution


Question
What can I do if I have a problem with an item I’ve bought online?
Answer
If you are not happy with an item you have bought online, you should always contact the trader first to make a complaint. If you are not satisfied with their response, you may be able to get help.

If your complaint is against a trader here in Ireland, you can contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for advice.

If the trader is in another EU member state, you can contact the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland). ECC Ireland may contact the trader and try to resolve your dispute. If this is not successful, ECC Ireland can advise you on other options.

You can also use the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. The ODR platform is operated by the European Commission for use by consumers living in the EU. It aims to help consumers and traders settle online disputes without the need to go to court. You use the platform to find a neutral third party (called a dispute resolution body) to handle your dispute.

You don’t have to pay when you submit a complaint using the ODR platform. However, a dispute resolution body may ask you to pay a fee if it agrees to handle your case. When a dispute resolution body agrees to handle your case it will tell you what the rules are, including how much you have to pay.
The outcome can depend on the type of dispute resolution body and their rules and procedures. Some decisions may not be binding on the trader. If you disagree with the outcome you might be able to appeal the outcome or take your case to court.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, February 5, 2018

Know Your Rights: Treatment Abroad Scheme


Question
I know that medical treatments available in Ireland can be accessed in other EU countries instead. What if I need a treatment that is not available in Ireland?

Answer
If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA) and be repaid the cost under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.
If you are a public patient and need treatment that is not available to you in Ireland, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the EEA, or in Switzerland. The Scheme may provide help with your travel fare and, in some cases, the fare for a travelling companion.

You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.

You and the consultant complete an application form and include a copy of your referral letter. Your application must be approved by the Health Service Executive (HSE) before you travel or start treatment abroad. You usually get a decision on your application within 15 to 20 working days.

If your application is approved, the HSE will issue a form called E112. This authorises treatment abroad so that you do not have to make any payment to the healthcare provider. The treatment you have abroad must be in public healthcare under a registered medical practitioner. It must be in a recognised hospital or other institution that accepts the form E112. If you don’t have the form when you attend at your appointment, you may be charged and not be refunded. Any treatments or consultations that are not pre-approved will not be covered.  The Ombudsman has produced a report that suggests improvements to the application and appeals process. It recommends that, by the end of February 2018,  the HSE produce a plan and schedule for making the suggested changes.

To apply for the scheme, contact the Treatment Abroad Scheme Office for an application form. You can get the contact details for your area by calling the HSE Infoline on the Callsave number 1850 24 1850 or online at hse.ie/treatmentabroad. Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Know Your Rights: Income tax bands and rates


Question
I’m a PAYE worker. What income tax will I pay in 2018?
Answer
Changes to income tax bands were announced as part of Budget 2018. The amount of tax that you have to pay depends on your personal circumstances.

Tax is charged as a percentage of your income. The percentage that you pay depends on the amount of your income.
The first part of your income, up to a certain amount, is taxed at 20%. This is known as the standard rate of tax and the amount that it applies to is known as the standard rate tax band.
The remainder of your income is taxed at the higher rate of tax, which is 40%. The amount that you can earn before you start to pay the higher rate of tax is known as your standard rate cut-off point.
For 2018 the standard rate of tax remains at 20%, but the standard rate tax bands have been increased as follows:

2018 €
2017 €
Single person
34,550 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
33,800 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
Married couple/civil partners, one income
43,550 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
42,800 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
Married couple/civil partners, two incomes
Up to 69,100 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
Up to 67,600 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
One-parent family
38,550 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%
37,800 @ 20%
Balance @ 40%

There is a range of income tax reliefs available, which can reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay. Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000



Friday, January 19, 2018

Accessing healthcare abroad


Question
There is a long wait for a medical procedure that I need. Can I get my medical costs refunded if I have the procedure done in another European country?
Answer
If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA). You will be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements.

This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive. The Directive covers services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. These include acute hospital services and community-based outpatient care. Other services covered include physiotherapy, ophthalmic, psychology, disability and mental health services. Occupational therapy services and dental and orthodontic services are also covered, but with some exceptions. The Directive doesn’t cover treatments that qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (in general, treatments that are not available in Ireland).  You must be referred to the health service abroad in the same way that you would be referred to public health services in Ireland. This referral may be by your GP (family doctor) or public hospital consultant, for example. They may also be able to tell you whether the service you require is covered by the Directive. You can also check with the National Contact Point (details below).

If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, it will need to be authorised in advance by the Health Service Executive (HSE). For other treatments, you should check whether prior authorisation is required. You pay the costs of treatment and then apply for a refund when you return to Ireland. The amount repaid is either the amount that the treatment would cost in Ireland, or the cost of your treatment abroad, if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel. The HSE has published refund amounts for different treatments. To get a refund of treatment costs, you and your healthcare provider abroad must complete a HSE form. You then submit it with the healthcare provider invoice and receipt. The HSE provides an invoice format that it recommends using for the invoice to make sure it includes all the required details.

To find out more, contact the National Contact Point: phone (056) 778 4546 or email crossborderdirective@hse.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, January 15, 2018

Know Your Rights: Prescription charges


Question
I have a medical card but I seem to be paying more than the monthly cap for prescription charges for my family. Why would this happen and how can I get a refund?

Answer
If you have a medical card, there is a charge for each prescription item you receive. From 1 January 2018, the prescription charge is reduced from €2.50 to €2.00 per item, up to a maximum of €20 per month per person or family (previously, the maximum was €25 per month). 

Usually your pharmacy keeps records of how much you have paid in prescription charges and makes sure that you do not pay more than the limit each month. However, you may use different pharmacies in the same month, or your family members may not be set up as a family group, and you may end up paying more than the maximum.

If this happens, the Health Service Executive (HSE) will issue a refund without the need for you to apply for it. This is done on the basis of the information received from pharmacies.
You can set up your family as a family group on medicalcard.ie and print off a family certificate to give to your pharmacist. This will show all of the members of your family so that your pharmacy will not collect charges above the monthly limit. Your family is defined as you, your spouse or partner, any children under 16 years of age and any children between 16 and 21 years of age who are in full-time education.

If you do not have access to the internet, you can ask your Local Health Office to help with setting up a family group. You can also call the HSE on 1890 252 919 or ask your local pharmacist, who may be able to help you.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Know Your Rights: Consumer rights during sales


January 2018

Question
What are my consumer rights when I buy something in the sales? Can I return sales items?
Answer
Your consumer rights during a sale are exactly the same as at any other time of the year. Your rights do not change just because you bought the item in a sale. Goods should be of merchantable quality, fit for their intended purpose and as described. If they are not, you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund.

If you are entitled to a refund because there is a fault with goods that you bought at full price, you should be refunded the amount you paid even if they are now on sale at a reduced price. Shop notices such as "No Refunds" or "No Exchanges" do not limit your rights, if you have a complaint about faulty items. Some shops display these notices, particularly during the sales, but this does not take away your rights under consumer protection law if the goods are faulty.

However, you are not entitled to a refund because you change your mind about something you have bought in a shop, whether this is during the sales or at any other time of the year. Many shops do allow you to exchange goods that you have had second thoughts about, but this is at their discretion. It is a good idea to check the shop's refund policy before buying anything.

If you buy goods at full price but change your mind about them, and they are now on sale at a lower price, you may only be offered the reduced amount (if the shop is willing to offer a refund).  You should always keep your receipts as proof of purchase and the price paid. This doesn't necessarily have to be the shop receipt. You could show your credit or debit card statement (if you used one) or other documentation that proves it was purchased.

For more information, visit the website of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission at ccpc.ie.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000