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Closing date for submissions on University of Limerick study on zero hours contracts is today – Min Nash

The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD is reminding interested parties that the closing date to make submissions on an independent study into zero and low hour contracts is today (Monday).

Minister Nash published the Government commissioned report by University of Limerick late last year. This followed a commitment by the Government in the Statement of Priorities in 2014 to undertake such an examination of this type of precarious work.

Among the findings in the UL study were that zero hour contracts as defined within current Irish employment rights legislation are not extensively used in Ireland. However, the researchers did find evidence of so called “if and when” contracts. While both involve non-guaranteed hours of work, workers on zero hour contracts are obliged to make themselves available for work, while those on “if and when” contracts are not contractually required to make themselves available.

The UL researchers questioned whether those working on “if and when” contracts are offered adequate protections under current employment legislation.

Minister Nash secured Cabinet agreement to publish the report and undertake a short period of consultation. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation drafted a consultation paper to guide interested parties in making submissions on the report. The closing date for submissions is today (Monday 4th of January 2016).

Minister Nash said, “As agreed by the Cabinet, I intend to use the UL study and the submissions I receive on the report in order to bring my own proposals to Government very shortly to tackle this type of precarious work.

“I acknowledge that employers and indeed employees often require some level of flexibility in order to respond to their needs. However, this should not be at the expense of the rights of workers. As part of my dignity at work agenda, I am determined to ensure that workers’ rights continue to be upheld and protected – and if needed, extended to ensure against exploitation.”

“While the vast majority of employers are decent and treat their workers with respect, it is suggested by the UL study that some businesses are using “if and when” contracts to get around having to pay their staff compensation for the time they are on call. It is my belief that the law has not kept up with the modern day labour market, and after I consider the submissions made through this consultation process I will bring my recommendations to Cabinet.”

ENDS

For more information contact Deirdre Grant 086 0484 279 or press.office@djei.ie 01 631 2200

Editors’ Notes:

The consultation document, including the executive summary of the UL study and its recommendations can be accessed at:

https://www.djei.ie/en/Consultations/Consultations-files/Consultation-Document%E2%80%93UL-Study-Zero-Hour-Contracts-Low-Hour-Contracts.pdf

Recommendations suggested by UL include:

  • Employees should receive a written contract on the first day of their new job. Currently an employer has two months to issue a contract.
  • That contract should provide a statement of working hours which are a true reflection of those required.
  • There should be a minimum of 3 continuous working hours where an employee is required to report for work; if there is not, the worker should be paid for the 3 hours.
  • An employer should give at least 72 hours’ notice of any request to undertake work, unless there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. If a worker undertakes extra hours without the minimum notice, they should be compensated at 150% of the rate they would be paid.
  • Employers should give a minimum of 72 hours’ notice of cancellation of hours. If workers do not get the minimum notice, they should be paid at their normal rate for the hours which were scheduled.
  • Legislation should be enacted to provide for employees with no guaranteed hours of work or those on hybrid low hours and if and when contracts to take an average of the number of hours worked in the previous six months as the minimum to be stipulated in their contract.
  • Periodic reviews of these hours should be put in place so a contract reflects the reality of working hours.
  • Employer organisations and trade unions which conclude a sectoral collective agreement can opt out of some of the suggested legislative provisions above.
  • The CSO include a section in the Quarterly National Household Survey which deals specifically with non-guaranteed working hours.
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