As always, lots of rights to help you right some wrongs in your life here, all courtesy of the Bray Information Centre.
We’re compiling the all the KYRs of 2019 here, so, subjects such as Brexit, Contracts of Employment, State Pension and whatever-you’re-having-yourself are covered.
Over to Martina at the Bray Information Centre…
Know Your Rights: Overtaking Cyclists
What are the new rules about overtaking cyclists?
On 12 November, a new offence of dangerously overtaking a pedal cyclist was introduced.
The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 builds on existing laws by specifically penalising the dangerous overtaking of cyclists. Previously, the law made no distinction between cyclists and other road users.
Drivers who overtake a cyclist in a dangerous way can now be fined a fixed charge of €120 and will also get 3 penalty points on their licence.
There are recommended safe distances for overtaking cyclists. On roads where the speed limit is less than 50 km/h, drivers should leave 1 metre distance between the car and the bicycle and on roads where the speed limit is over 50 km/h, drivers should leave 1.5 metres.
The Road Safety Authority will put up road signs to indicate the recommended safe distances for overtaking cyclists. If you think you have been overtaken dangerously by a driver, you can contact the Garda Traffic Watch Lo-call number 1890 205 805.
Know Your Rights: Gift Vouchers
I usually get a gift voucher at Christmas and birthdays. What are the new gift voucher rules that came in recently?
Gift vouchers are any voucher, coupon or other document (including an electronic document) that can be used instead of money to pay (or pay in part) for goods and services.
Since 2 December 2019, the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019 sets out the following new rules for gift vouchers:
• Gift vouchers must have no expiry date or be valid for at least 5 years.
• Traders cannot specify that a gift voucher is spent in one transaction.
• Traders cannot charge a fee to change the name on a gift voucher, (if you have to register a name on the voucher).
• If the balance remaining on a gift voucher is more than €1 after you buy something with it, a trader must reimburse the balance to you. They can give you cash, make an electronic transfer or give you another gift voucher.
These new rules do not apply to:
• Vouchers that you can only use to buy specified goods and services at a discounted price, from a specified trader on a specified date, or for a specified period of 3 months or less. For example, vouchers from deal websites such as Groupon or Pigsback.
• Vouchers issued as part of a customer loyalty or promotion scheme.
• Vouchers issued as a refund for goods you returned to a trader.
• Vouchers and gift cards sold before 2 December 2019. The expiry period and the terms and conditions that applied at the time of purchase apply to these vouchers.
The new rules do not apply to electronic money gift cards (for example, One4all gift cards) which are already covered under the European Communities (Electronic Money) Regulations 2011.
Know Your Rights: Patient Advocacy Service
I was in hospital recently and I was not happy with my experience there. When I complained to the nurse in charge I wasn’t satisfied with the response. How can I take my complaint further?
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a complaints system, called Your service your say, that you can use to make a complaint about your experience of a service provided by the HSE or on behalf of the HSE.
If you want to make a complaint about a public hospital to the HSE, you can get support from the new Patient Advocacy Service to help you make your complaint. The Patient Advocacy Service is fully independent of the HSE. It is a free and confidential service that provides information and support to people who want to make a formal complaint about an experience they have had in a public acute hospital.
The Patient Advocacy Service provides support by phone helpline, on 0818 293003, and on its website, patientadvocacyservice.ie, where you can find information and a contact form. The service can explain how to make a formal complaint, including what you should include in your complaint and how to write it.
If there is a delay with the processing of the complaint or if you are not satisfied with the outcome, the Patient Advocacy Service can give you information about your options.
Know Your Rights: Returning to Ireland
My son has been living in Australia for the last fifteen years and is planning to return to Ireland next year for good. Where can he find practical information about returning home?
The more prepared your son is, the easier his move home will be so he should start his research as soon as he can. Citizens Information has developed a new online Returning to Ireland resource with a broad range of information specifically intended for Irish citizens who are living abroad and are planning to return home to live in Ireland.
This new online resource is filled with practical information to help Irish citizens plan their return and settle back in Ireland as smoothly as possible. It covers everything from residency applications for non-EU family members, applying for passports for children and accessing the public health system on your return to Ireland.
If your son is planning to start work when he returns he may want to know about PPS numbers, registering for tax purposes and getting recognition for foreign qualifications in Ireland. If he is returning with a family or children he may need to know about applying for Child Benefit, enrolling in school or college and exemptions from learning the Irish language in school. The site also has information about converting a foreign driving license to an Irish one, getting car insurance as a returning Irish emigrant and travelling to Ireland with your pet.
Know Your Rights: Small Claims Procedure
I am unhappy with the repair work a builder has done to my house, he hasn’t fixed the issue and he refuses to put it right. Do I have any rights in this situation?
If your builder is unwilling to compensate you, you may be able to make a claim against them using the small claims procedure. The aim of this procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without a solicitor. The maximum amount you can claim for under the small claims procedure is €2,000. The small claims procedure is provided through local District Court offices.
If you have purchased goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business, you can make a claim using the small claims procedure. You can make claims for bad workmanship, minor damage to property, faulty goods and for the non-return of rent deposits for certain kinds of rented properties, for example, a holiday home. Businesses can also use this procedure to make claims against other businesses about contracts for goods or services purchased.
To make a claim, you need to complete the application form and submit it and a fee of €25 to the Small Claims Registrar. You can do this online at the Courts Service Online website, csol.ie. Alternatively, you can download the application form from courts.ie or get a copy from the Small Claims Registrar at the District Court office. Make sure you include the correct name and address of the company or person you are claiming against. You can double-check this information on the Companies Registration Office website at cro.ie.
The Registrar sends a copy of your application to the person you are making the claim against. If the other person does not reply within 15 days of receiving your application, your claim will be automatically treated as undisputed. Then the court will make an order in your favour for the amount claimed, and direct that it be paid within a specific period of time. If your claim is disputed, the Registrar will give you a copy of the reasons why the other person is disputing your claim. The Registrar will try to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the matter is set for a court hearing in the District Court.
Know your Rights: Shopping Online After Brexit
If the UK leaves the EU, what changes can I expect when shopping online from a UK retailer?
EU consumer law will not apply to UK sales, including online sales, after it leaves the EU. Therefore, your current consumer rights as provided for under EU consumer law will no longer be available.
For example, if you are in a dispute with a UK-based trader, you may not be able to avail of the European Consumer Centre network or the European Small Claims Procedure. However, consumers in Ireland can take individual action through the Irish courts if they have purchased online from UK traders who do business in the EU.
You should also be aware that following Brexit, you may have to pay certain taxes and duties when buying from the UK. You may have to pay customs duty, excise duty and VAT. These charges are calculated according to the value of the item and can include the transport costs. You can find detailed information about your consumer rights and Brexit on the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website, ccpc.ie and on your consumer rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit on the europa.eu website.
Know Your Rights: Inheritance Tax
I have recently inherited some money following the death of a close relative. Will I have to pay tax on it?
If you get an inheritance following a death, you may have to pay inheritance tax on it. Inheritance tax is a type of Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) which includes gift tax. You do not have to pay tax on gifts or inheritances from your spouse or civil partner. If you get an inheritance from other relatives, you may get all or part of the inheritance tax-free – depending on the amount. The tax-free amount or threshold depends on the relationship between you and the person who left you the money.
• Group A applies where you are the child, stepchild or adopted child of the person giving the gift or inheritance. In certain circumstances it can apply to a foster child or parent getting an inheritance.
• Group B applies where you are the parent, grandparent, grandchild, great-grandchild, brother, sister, nephew or niece of the giver.
• Group C applies to any relationship not included in Group A or B.
Since 10 October 2018, the CAT threshold for each group is as follows:
• Group A – €320,000
• Group B – €32,500
• Group C – €16,250
You have to pay inheritance tax if the value of your inheritance (together with any other gifts and inheritances you have already received within the same group since 5 December 1991) is more than the tax-free amount or CAT threshold.
If you do have to pay inheritance tax, it is charged at 33%. The tax only applies to the amount over the group threshold.
As CAT is a self-assessment tax, you have to file a tax return. You can file Form IT38 (Inheritance Tax/Gift Tax Return) online through ROS, Revenue’s online service. You can also submit a paper form to Revenue.
Know Your Rights: Appealing Your Leaving Cert Results
If I am unhappy with a result in my Leaving Cert, how can I get the grade reviewed?
The Leaving Cert results will be available on 13 August this year. If you are unhappy about a result and would like to have it checked, you can appeal your grade to the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
However, before you decide to appeal your grade, you can view your examination script to see how your work was marked. To do this, you must register on the Candidate Self Service Portal on the SEC website, examinations.ie. You can make an application to the viewing of scripts service online from 9am, 14 August to 5pm, 16 August. You will need your username and password (you get this when you register on the portal). Only the scripts from the written examinations can be viewed – not the results of oral examinations or marks for practical examinations. If your script was marked on paper, you will be assigned a session to view it on either 20 August or 21 August. If it was marked online you can view it online from 5pm on Tuesday 20 August to 5pm on Wednesday 21 August.
If you decide to go ahead and appeal your result after viewing your script, you should log into examinations.ie, access the Candidate Self Service Portal and complete the process online. This service will be available from 5pm, 16 August until 5pm, 22 August. The process is the same for all scripts whether they were marked manually or online. Your script will then be sent to an appeal examiner for re-marking.
The appeal fee is €40 per subject for the Leaving Certificate. The appeal fee for the Applied Leaving Certificate is €15.50 per subject. You will get this fee back if your result is upgraded. You can get more information from the Candidate Information Booklet – Leaving Certificate 2019, published by the State Examinations Commission.
Know Your Rights: Emergency Medical Card
What is an emergency medical card?
An emergency medical card is a temporary medical card that is issued without a means test in certain emergency situations and is valid for 6 months. For example, you could be issued an emergency medical card in an acute medical crisis where you need urgent treatment that you cannot afford without a medical card.
Only a healthcare professional (for example, a doctor or consultant) can apply for an emergency medical card for you. They must include a detailed medical report with the application.
The application will be reviewed by a Health Service Executive (HSE) medical officer.
If your application is approved, it can take 7 to 10 days to get your emergency medical card in the post. However, your card will be active straight away so you can get the care you need.
You will need to complete a means assessment before your emergency medical card expires. The HSE will write to you when you need to do this. The means assessment is for a full medical card for you and your family.
In some cases, the medical officer may recommend a terminal illness card. These are given to people who are getting ‘end of life’ treatment. This means a prognosis of less than 12 months to live.
If you get a terminal illness card it will never be reviewed and will not expire.
Know Your Rights: One-Parent Family Payment
What is the One-Parent Family Payment?
The One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a means-tested social welfare payment for men and women under 66 who are bringing children up without the support of a partner.
To qualify for OFP you must:
Be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of a relevant child – generally this means a child under 7 but there are some exceptions.
Be the main carer of at least one relevant child that lives with you. OFP is not payable if parents have joint equal custody.
Be habitually resident in Ireland (certain people, in particular EU nationals who are considered migrant workers, are exempt from the habitual residence condition).
Not be living with a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting.
If you are separated, divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved, you must have been living apart from your spouse or civil partner for at least 3 months. This does not apply to cohabitants. You may need to make efforts to get maintenance from your former spouse or partner.
The maximum rate for OFP is €203 per week. If you are working, your gross earnings from insurable employment or self-employment cannot be more than €425 per week.
In general, you stop getting OFP when your child turns 7 (the exceptions are where you are caring for a child with a disability who is getting Domiciliary Care Allowance or if your partner has recently died). If you no longer qualify for OFP, you may qualify for the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment. This is a payment for people parenting alone whose children are aged between 7 and 13.
Know Your Rights: Changes To Parental Leave
I heard that there will be changes to parental leave later this year. What are they?
A number of changes to parental leave are due to take place in 2019 and 2020.
Currently parents (and people acting in loco parentis) can take 18 weeks unpaid parental leave on behalf of children up to age eight.
A phased extension to parental leave is planned. From 1 September 2019, parental leave will increase by 4 weeks to 22 weeks. From 1 September 2020, parental leave will increase again by 4 weeks to 26 weeks.
The age of eligible children will increase from 8 to 12 years of age from 1 September. Currently, if your child has a disability or a long-term illness, you can take parental leave up until their 16th birthday – there is no change to this provision.
If you have already taken some, or all of the current entitlement of 18 weeks parental leave, you will get the additional weeks of parental leave, provided your child is still under the qualifying age.
A new paid Parental Leave Scheme that will allow parents to take two weeks paid leave each during their child’s first year is expected from November 2019. Legislation needs to be enacted before this change can come into effect. You can follow the progress on oireachtas.ie.
Know Your Rights: Brexit
What is the Brexit Omnibus Bill?
The Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 was published on 22 February 2019. This bill is known informally as the Brexit Omnibus Bill.
The legislation aims to prepare Ireland for a disorderly Brexit (also called a “no-deal” Brexit). The Bill is made up of 15 parts and crosses the remit of 9 Government ministers. It is expected that the Bill will be ready for commencement by 29 March 2019 and each part will be commenced by the individual minister at the appropriate time.
However, many of the provisions in the Bill will only be necessary if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 under a no-deal scenario.
You can read a summary of the Bill in the Explanatory Memorandum.
You can get more information on the Government’s preparations for Brexit in the European Union section of citizensinformation.ie and on gov.ie.
Know Your Rights: Contracts Of Employment
I’m starting a new job. I heard that there are changes to the rules about terms of employment for new employees. What are they?
Your employer must provide you with a written statement of your terms of employment in writing within two months of starting a new position. These terms set out specific details of the employment relationship and include information like your place of work, job title, start date and working hours.
Under the new Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, from 4 March 2019, your employer must give you five core terms of your employment within five days of starting your new job. These core terms are:
1.The full names of the employer and the employee
2.The address of the employer
3.The duration of the contract (where the contract is temporary or fixed-term)
4.The rate or method of calculation of the employee’s pay
5.What the employer reasonably expects the normal length of your working day and week to be, on a daily and weekly basis (for example, five hours per day, three days per week)
Your employer must provide these terms to you in writing. The remaining terms of employment must also be provided in writing within two months. All written statements must be signed and dated by your employer and they must keep a copy on file for one year. Employers face serious penalties if they do not comply. You can find a sample 5 day statement of terms of employment on workplacerelations.ie.
Know Your Rights: European Health Insurance Card
I’ve just booked my summer holidays for this year and plan to travel around Europe with my partner and my 10-year old son. How do I make sure we have access to public healthcare while travelling?
Each member of your family will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare service in another EU or European Economic Area (EEA) state for free, or at a reduced cost. (The EHIC was formerly known as the E111 form).
All member states of the EU are covered by the card, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The EHIC card is free of charge and you can make an application for yourself, your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16. You have two options to apply:
If you already have a medical card or Drugs Payment Scheme card, you can apply online for your EHIC at ehic.ie.
Or, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get one from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service Number (PPSN).
If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. You will need your old EHIC number and your Personal Public Service (PPS) number. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you will need to contact your Local Health Office to renew the card.
If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate, either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses not covered by the EHIC (such as the costs of repatriation or the expenses of relatives who travel to you if you fall ill abroad).
Know Your Rights: Authenticating Documents
We are a family planning to move from Ireland to live in Italy. Will Italian authorities accept our Irish birth certificates?
When you are abroad, you may need to use Irish documents, for example, a birth certificate, either for personal or business reasons. Governments and organisations sometimes require that public documents issued in other countries be authenticated or apostilled and translated before they can be accepted. Authenticating a document means verifying that a signature, seal or stamp on a document is genuine. An apostille stamp is an international certification.
Since 16 February 2019, EU citizens moving to another EU country no longer need to get an apostille stamp to prove that their public documents are authentic. This means that public documents such as birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates issued in Ireland by the General Register Office (GRO) and the Certificate of Freedom to Marry issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are accepted by authorities in other EU member states as authentic.
The EU Regulation also removes the obligation for citizens to provide a translation of their public document. If the public document is not in one of the official languages of the EU country requesting the document, citizens can ask for a Multilingual Standard Form, available in all EU languages, from the authorities of the EU country which issued the public document.
Multilingual Standard Forms are now available on request from the GRO for birth, death, marriage, adoption and civil partnership certificates. For more information, visit gro.ie.
Know Your Rights: Is Good Friday A Public Holiday?
Is Good Friday a public holiday?
Good Friday fell on 19 April in 2019. It is not a public holiday. While many businesses close on Good Friday, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day.
However, Easter Monday is a public holiday. This year it fell on Monday 22 April.
If a public holiday falls on a day on which you normally work, you are entitled to either:
A paid day off on the public holiday
A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
An additional day’s pay
An additional day’s annual leave
If the public holiday falls on a day on which you do not normally work, then you are entitled to one-fifth of your normal weekly wage for that day.
Part-time employees qualify for public holiday entitlement if they have worked at least 40 hours during the 5 weeks ending on the day before a public holiday.
Know Your Rights: Recognition Of Your Qualifications
I am returning to Ireland from Australia where I have been working and living for the last 10 years. I received my degree from the University of Melbourne. I want to do a Masters in Ireland on my return. Can I use my foreign degree to apply for a place in a third level course?
You should first check with the admissions office of your chosen 3rd level institution to see if they will accept your degree for admission to the Masters.
NARIC Ireland also provides free advice on the academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland. The service compares a foreign qualification to an Irish qualification of a similar type and level on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NARIC Ireland foreign qualifications database has details of over 1100 qualifications from over 140 countries. You can download a Comparability Statement which compares your qualifications to an award type and level in the context of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications. If your qualification is not currently listed you can request recognition advice for your foreign award by emailing them directly. Visit www.naric.ie for more information.