The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 comes into effect on 1 March 2019.
It is a highly significant piece of legislation for any employer who makes use of workers on “Zero Hours” contracts on a regular basis or relies upon casual labour to any extent.
It also makes one important change to existing employment law that is applicable to all employers regardless of their business model.
- All employers will have to provide certain core information to employees in writing within five days of commencing employment. This includes the expected duration of the contract, the manner in which wages will be calculated and the likely working day or week. A well-drafted contract of employment is likely to provide the required information and satisfy the requirements in the Act.
- Zero-hour contracts will be prohibited in Ireland. There is an exception in the case of (a) genuine casual work, (b) emergency cover or (c) short-term relief absence. However, it remains to be seen how generously the courts and tribunals will interpret these exceptions. Zero Hours contracts are a model where an employee must be available for work, but does not have any specified hours of work – effectively amounting to being ‘on call’. The employer retains complete discretion when it comes to the employee’s working hours and is free to decline to take up an employee’s services if it wishes to.
- If an employee is called to work but not actually provided with the expected hours, that employee will be entitled to a new minimum floor payment of three times the national minimum wage.
- The Act introduces a concept of banded hours. If an employee believes that the hours specified in their contract do not reflect the hours actually worked each week, the employee is entitled to be placed in a band of weekly working hours in line with the following table:
An employee will have recourse to the Workplace Relations Commission if an employer refuses to place them in a band to which they believe they are entitled.
- The Act contains anti-victimisation provisions prohibiting penalisation of workers who make a complaint. It also includes provision for significant fines and penalties.