A new Bill, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017, was published last week. According to the Employment and Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, the new Bill will prohibit zero hour contracts in most circumstances, as well as aiming to tackle problems caused by the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work.
Key elements of the new Bill include:
Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within 5 days.
Within five days of a new employee starting employment, the employer must provide them with five core terms of employment. These 5 terms are:
Employers who fail to provide these basic terms, who deliberately mislead or give false information will be open to prosecution. This is a new offence.
In line with current legislation, the remaining terms of employment will still need to be provided within two months of the employee’s start date.
Zero hour contracts to be Prohibited in most circumstances.
Zero hour contracts will be prohibited in all circumstances except in cases of genuine casual work or where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in an emergency situation or to cover short-term absences.
New minimum payment to be introduced.
Employees called into work but sent home again without work will now be entitled to a payment. Additionally, if an employee has not worked at all in a week or has worked less than 25% of their contract hours, they will also be entitled to a minimum payment. The payment shall be calculated as the pay that the employee would have receive had they worked the lesser of:
That minimum payment must be three times the National Minimum Wage or the rate set out in any applicable Employment Regulation Order.
The Bill introduces new rights for new employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work. For example, the contract states 15 hours per week where in reality the employee usually works 30 hours per week. After a work period of 18 months, an employee will be able to submit a written request to change their contractual hours. The employees request must be granted within two months, only in exceptional cases will the employer be permitted to refuse the request.
Penalisation of Employees
Employees seeking to invoke their employment rights under the Bill will have strong protections against penalisation. Where an employee successfully makes a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission, they could be entitled to up to four weeks’ remuneration.
The Bill was presented to the Dail on Thursday 7th December 2017, it is hoped that the Bill will be taken at Second Stage early in the New Year.