In what has been described as one of the most significant pieces of employment law in a generation – The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that is scheduled to come into force on 4th March 2019 is one to look out for. The new legislation aims to strengthen the regulation of precarious and casual Employment.
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. 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.”
The main provisions of the bill are:
- Under the legislation, zero hours contracts will be banned except in situations of “genuine casual employment” (work done in emergency situations or short-term relief work to cover routine absences for the Employer). This is likely to have a big impact for industries where casual or a-typical contracts are more common, like tourism, retail, healthcare, fast food and hospitality in particular.
- Employers must give employees basic terms of employment with 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of employment commencing. The Bill introduces criminal liability for failure to provide the written statement of core terms within one month of employment commencing.
- Banded Hours provisions: Consider requests from employees to be put in a ‘band of hours’ that reflects the actual hours worked as opposed to the contracted hours. This will impact any employer who employs part-time or variable hours employees. There will be 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;
- A new minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work. This is a new minimum payment to be paid to employees who are not required to work on a certain week or who work less than 25% of their weekly contractual hours in a particular week
- Strong anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.
Who will the new legislation impact? It will impact all Employers because one of the provisions is a requirement to issue core terms of employment within FIVE days of an employee starting work. If you normally issue contracts after commencement of employment, ensure that from next March you do so within 5 days of commencement of the employee’s employment. Note: This new obligation is in addition to Section 3 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 which requires an employer to provide a written statement to an employee outlining 15 core terms of employment within two months of commencing employment.
The five core terms of employment are as follows:
- Full name of the Employer and Employee
- Address or principal place of business of the Employer within the State
- Fixed – Term/ specified purpose contracts- expected duration /expiry date
- Rate or method of calculation of employee’s remuneration and pay reference period for purpose of National Minimum Wage Act 2000
- Number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work (a) per normal working day and (b) per normal working week
Q: Do I have to re-issue contracts of employment to existing staff?
A: No, it is not necessary to re-issue contracts of employment for existing staff but be advised that those who do not have written statements of employment which conform to the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 as amended may request a statement of terms of employment and that statement will need to be compliant with the new legislation.
Q: Are “as and when required” contracts still permitted?
A: So-called “as and when required” arrangements (where employees may refuse without consequence hours of work offered by the employer) will still be a permitted form of employment relationship once the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) legislation comes into effect.
Q: What penalties am I likely to face if I am in breach of the legislation?
A: The Bill will also bring strong penalties for employers who do not comply with its provisions. These include:
- Awards to employees who are not issued with the core employment terms in writing within 5 days of starting employment
- Fines of up to €5,000
- Anti-penalisation awards of up to two years’ salary
- Fixed penalty notices
- Imprisonment of up to 12 months
- Potential for personal liability for senior employees and directors where they have consented or connived in non-compliance in respect of certain offences
For further advice or information, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.