The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 was published by the Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister on 7 December 2017.
The Minister noted that the “key objective of the Bill is to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours.” The Bill is a welcome development and addresses five key issues for workers:
1. Core terms of employment
Core employment terms are to be provided to employees within 5 days of starting work for the employer, including, name and address of employer, rate of pay and hours of work. If an employer fails to specify to an employee, in writing, these core terms of employment within one month of the date of commencement of employment an employer could be liable on summary conviction (ie, in the District Court) to fine not exceeding €5,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment.
2. Minimum payments for employees called into work but sent home without work
Minimum payments are to be made to employees who are called in to work for a period but sent home without any or significantly less work.
3. Prohibiting zero hours contracts
Prohibition of zero hours contracts except in cases of genuine casual work or emergency cover or short-term relief work.
4. Banded hours
Creating a new right for an employee whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours worked over a period of 18 months. In that situation, the employee shall be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the reality of the hours they have worked over that period.
Strengthening of the anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.
It is arguable that the Bill does not achieve its key objective as it does not address the issue of “if and when” contracts. This type of contract has no guaranteed hours. If the individual is available for work and when the employer has work for the individual then the employer will call the individual for work. It remains to be seen if the Bill will pass without amendment or be returned to the Dáil with amendments.
A copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum are available here.