Employment Bill, One of the Most Significant Pieces of Workforce Legislation in a Generation

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD recently emphasised that the current Employment Bill moving through the Oireachtas is one of the most significant pieces of employment legislation in a generation. The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017, which seeks to address the challenges thrown up by the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious employment, moved through its Second Stage in the Seanad.

Speaking to the importance of the Bill, Minister Doherty said:

“This Bill will provide one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation. This legislation will improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. We live in a changing world and it’s vital that the legal protections for all workers keep up with the conditions experienced by a modern workforce.

“I am particularly pleased that this Bill is rooted in a process of extensive consultations, including a public consultation following a University of Limerick (UL) study on zero hour contracts and low hour contracts as well as detailed discussions with Ibec and ICTU over a number of months. As a result, I believe that this is balanced and fair to both employees and employers and will truly work in practice.”

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.

Moving the Bill through the Second Stage in the Seanad, Minister Doherty stressed that she is keen to see the Bill enacted as soon as possible

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