Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Employment Rights

Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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221. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to address the issue of zero-hour contracts given the recent controversy surrounding contact tracing contracts. [44545/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Ireland’s comprehensive body of employment rights legislation protects all employees who are legally employed on an employer-employee basis. Employment rights legislation was strengthened by the commencement, on 4th March 2019, of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018.

The Act delivered on the Programme for Government commitment to address the challenges of the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious employment.

The Act of 2018 provides that:

- employers must give to employees their core terms of employment within five days of starting work;

- zero hours contracts are restricted to situations where the work is of a genuinely casual, emergency or short-term relief nature;

- there are minimum payments for people when they are called into work, but sent home without work;

- a 'band of hours' system has been introduced whereby an employee can request to be placed on a contract that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12 month reference period;

Section 18 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (OWTA) was amended to prohibit zero hour contracts except in the following circumstances:

- Where the work is of a casual nature;

- Where the work is done in emergency circumstances; or

- Short-term relief work to cover routine absences for the employer.

There are strong anti-penalisation provisions, including recourse to the Workplace Relations Commission, for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.

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