On Monday 4 March 2019, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 (the “Act”) came into force. The Act attempts to address the risks associated with irregular employment and affords protections to employees who may be lacking in job security at present by introducing a number of key protections for employees as follows:
5 Core Terms of Employment
Further to the introduction of the Act, employers must now issue 5 core terms of employment to new employees no later than 5 working days after the commencement of employment. These are:
- the full names of the employer and the employee;
- the address of the employer;
- the expected duration of a temporary contract (if applicable);
- the rate of pay; and
- the number of working hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work per normal day and per normal working week.
Failure to provide this information is a criminal offence and therefore this is a key provision which requires employers to act quickly when employing new staff.
Prohibition of Zero Hours Contracts
The Act prohibits zero hours contracts save in exceptional circumstances including where either the work is undertaken in emergency circumstances or where the work is short-term relief work to cover routine absences. It also does not apply to casual employment.
Minimum Floor Payments
Further, where employees do not receive their expected hours of work, they may be entitled to a minimum floor payment save where certain exemptions arise. Generally speaking, the payment will be on the basis of either 25% of their contracted hours or 15 hours, whichever is the lesser and will be based on 3 times the National Minimum Wage. The precise method of calculation appears to be unclear at present with different commentators having different views in this regard.
Employees will now also have the right to request to be placed in a band of hours which more accurately reflects their hours rather than those stated in their contract of employment where they have been working those increased hours for a period of 12 months before making the request. It is important to note that the Workplace Relations Commission has stated that requests for banded hours can be made immediately based on the last 12 months and employees do not need to wait 12 months from the 4 March to make these requests.
The Workplace Relations Commission has commenced an awareness campaign the aim of which is to ensure that both employers and employees are aware of the provisions of the Act. Therefore employers will need to get to grips with the new legislation quickly in order to deal with any potential requests or issues from employees arising as a result.