Draft legislative proposals that aim to address current employment issues such as zero hour contracts, low hour contracts and banded hours have been approved by the Irish Government.
The draft proposals were brought forward by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, and the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD, in response to the commitment in the Programme for Government to address problems caused by the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work.
The draft proposals aim to address areas where current employment rights legislation could be strengthened to the benefit of employees, particularly low-paid, more vulnerable workers, without imposing unnecessarily onerous burdens on employers and businesses. In particular, the proposals address the following:
"I am very pleased that the Government has agreed to the priority drafting of this important legislation,” commented Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor. “It is important because it will improve the employment protections for low-paid, vulnerable workers in particular. It will also improve the predictability of hours of work and earnings for many employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they work on a consistent basis.”
The Ministers’ proposals were informed by the University of Limerick study on zero hour contracts and low hour contracts, as well as the extensive material and practical examples provided by respondents to the public consultation on that study conducted by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
The University of Limerick study was the first undertaken in Ireland on the use of zero hour contracts. It revealed a number of interesting findings, including the fact that zero hour contracts were just one type of contract in use that gave no guarantee of working hours.
Another, similar contract type that was in much wider use was If and When contracts, which differ from zero hour contracts in that they do not contain any contractual requirement for the employee to make themselves available for work.
Researchers found that employers defended the use of these contracts by saying they offered flexible working hours that were valued by employees. However, their use was criticised by trade unions because the inherent unpredictability and uncertainty around working hours can cause substantial problems for employees.
The recently published draft legislative proposals will now be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for priority drafting of a Bill.
For expert legal advice on employment rights and obligations then contact our specialist employment lawyers today.
We have found the Sherwin O’Riordan team to be reliable, very responsive in cases of tight deadlines, business focused and have given us sound commercial legal advice.Geoff Ryan - VP Finance, Profitero
Read our latest updates, briefings, articles & thought leadership from our award-winning Employment, Commercial Lawyers & Personal Injury team.
"We simply cannot fault the service we receive from SOR. They have specialist solicitors in each area where we need advice and we’ve had contact with 4 different partners during the last 14 months, and the experience has been the same each time. Really really good."Justin Cahill, Chairman, CMC Platform Financials