2nd May 2017
Today, the Government approved draft legislative proposals 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 casualization of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work. The draft proposals, which address zero hour contracts, low hour contracts, banded hours and related matters, are targeted at low-paid workers in particular.
The proposals address the issue of employees on low hour contracts who consistently work more hours each week but whose contracts do not reflect the reality of their hours worked. The proposals also seek to ensure that employees are better informed about the nature of their employment arrangements and their core terms at an early stage in their employment. They include provisions aimed particularly at low-paid, more vulnerable workers. The proposals also include an amendment to the Organisation of Working Time Act which will prohibit zero hour contracts in most circumstances.
Commenting after the Government meeting, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “I am very pleased that the Government has agreed to the priority drafting of this important legislation. 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. These proposals have also been the subject of a detailed dialogue process with ICTU and Ibec over a number of months.
The Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD, said that “Developing policy proposals on employment rights is a complex matter. A balance needs to be found between protecting the rights of employees and avoiding unintended consequences on business, particularly small and medium sized businesses, which may negatively affect the competitiveness of the Irish economy. These proposals have been subject to broad consultation and represent a balanced response to the commitment in the Programme for Government to tackle problems caused by the increased casualization of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work. We have listened carefully to all sides to ensure that the proposals are workable in practice, while minimising the impact on businesses.”
The Ministers added “We look forward to engaging with all parties in the Oireachtas in pre-legislative scrutiny of these proposals.”
The draft legislation will now be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for priority drafting of a Bill.
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