Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) ACT, 2018

Passed into law 2019

Purpose of the bill

The main point of this new law is to deal with ‘precarious work’, zero hours contracts, and uncertain working conditions for employees in industries which would have relied on a great deal of flexibility in the employment contract; service industries such as retail, hospitality, and tourism for example.

Most employers in these industries have made ample use of flexible working arrangements to meet the needs of their business, especially long working hours and seasonable peaks and troughs in trade and the demand for staff.

Main elements

The significant elements of this bill are

1. The employer must give a written statement of 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of starting employment.

These 5 terms are:
a) the full name of employer and employee
b) the address of the employer
c) the expected duration of the employment contract
d) the method of calculating or rate of pay
e) the expected normal working day and week

2. Banded hours provisions

The employee has a statutory entitlement to a banded hours contract where their contractual working hours over the previous 12 months do not reflect their actual working hours.

This is a guaranteed minimum number of hours, e.g. in band B they are guaranteed a minimum of 11 hours. If the employee requests such a contract he/she must be given the banded hours contract unless:

i) the employee’s claim is not supported by evidence.
ii) there have been significant adverse changes to the employer’s business in the previous 12 months.
iii) the hours worked in the previous 12 months were brought about by a temporary situation which no longer exists.

There are 8 different bands as follows:

Band              From                     To
A                     3 hours                  6 hours
B                     6 hours                 11 hours
C                    11 hours               16 hours
D                    16 hours               21 hours
E                     21 hours              26 hours
F                     26 hours              31 hours
G                     31 hours              36 hours
H                     36 hours and over            

Once an employee is placed on a particular band he/she is entitled to work an average of those hours for the following 12 months.

3. Designation of employees/Independent contracting

An employer can be held liable if she/he incorrectly designates and employee as ‘self-employed’. Fines of up to €5,000 are the maximum penalties.
The employer has a defence, however, if he/she can show that he exercised due diligence and took all reasonable precautions when arriving at the designation.

4. Prohibition of zero hours contracts

Zero hours contracts will be prohibited unless used in specific exceptional circumstances of genuine casual employment and where they are essential for the needs of the business in the short term or in emergency situations.

5. Continuity of employment

Employees who are given a series of fixed term contracts will be deemed as being on layoff and will accumulate ‘continuous service’ for the purpose of protections from various employment law statutes.

6. New minimum payment 

There will be a new minimum payment entitlement for employees who are not called into work on any given week. The employee will be entitled 25% of their weekly contracted hours.

7. Strong penalties for employers

The bill provides strong sanctions against employers for penalising employees who seek to enforce their rights under this bill and also strong penalties for not implementing the provisions of this bill.

Blog provided by/source: Brendan Foley 20-20 HR, Newberry, Mallow Co.Cork.  087-7938641. / Brendan@2020hr.ie / www.2020hr.ie