Workers protection

Doherty announces new reforms to improve security on working hours for employees

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, today announced that the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill - which today completed its passage through the Oireachtas – will commence in the first week of March 2019 once enacted. The Bill seeks to address the challenges thrown up by the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious employment.

The main provisions of the Bill are as follows:
Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within five days;
- Prohibits zero hour contracts except in situations of genuine casual employment and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence;
- A new minimum payment for employees called in to work but sent home again without work;
- Banded Hours provisions: a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work whereby they will be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12 month reference period;
- Strong anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.
- To assist and inform employees who will benefit from this legislation, as well as employers who need to be made aware of its provisions, the Minister also announced today that she would be arranging for a short public awareness campaign to be conducted by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ahead of commencement.

Hailing the Bill as is one of the most significant pieces of employment legislation in a generation, Minister Doherty said she was keen to have it enacted as soon as possible and will finalise the Bill before the Dail next Tuesday to be sent immediately afterwards for the President’s signature.
Speaking to the importance of the Bill, Minister Doherty said:
“I am delighted to reach this stage for one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation and, crucially, to have introduced legislation that will profoundly improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours – including many workers in Meath. In a changing world, this reform ensures that the legal protections for all workers will match the conditions experienced by a modern workforce and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of workers.
“This Bill is rooted in a process of extensive consultations with Ibec and ICTU over a number of months as well as comprehensive research. As a result, I believe that this is balanced and fair to both employees and employers and will truly work in practice.”