Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Department of Health
158. To ask the Minister for Health if he is aware of the concerns of the Health Service Executive regarding banning zero-hour contracts because of cost implications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3452/16]
I understand that Minister of State Ged Nash is currently considering proposals and recommendations as outlined in a University of Limerick study on the prevalence of zero hours contracts among Irish employers and their impact on employees. The study found that zero hours contracts within the meaning of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 are not extensive in Ireland and are not evident in the health sector.
Employing staff working on zero hours contracts is not a policy of my Department. In 2014, a home help annualised contract was introduced for HSE employees in conjunction with staff unions which, as well as matching the actual workforce to the changing needs of the service, gives certainty to employees by way of guaranteed weekly minimum paid hours.
The HSE provide services on a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year basis, particularly in acute hospitals and community care residential settings for the elderly and persons with an intellectual disability. The HSE have advised that they have staff working on ‘if and when’ contracts which provide flexibility where hours of work may fluctuate in accordance with service needs. Staff in medical, nursing and support grades are contracted to provide their contracted hours at any time over a 24 hour period in accordance with accepted norms with regard to rostering arrangements.