Are Zero Hour Contracts Illegal In Ireland

Carole Stephens
• Saturday, 24 October, 2020
• 7 min read

Work of a casual nature Work done in emergency situations Short-term relief to cover routine absences For example, where a member of staff in a care facility must accompany a resident to hospital at short notice, an appropriate substitute worker can be called in to cover under a zero -hours contract.

(Source: londonweed.net)


Similarly, schools maintain a panel of teachers to provide substitute cover for the unexpected absence of a regular member of the teaching staff. You must receive a minimum payment if you are called in to work but sent home without work (except in emergencies, exceptional circumstances or short-term relief, for example).

An employee under a zero -hours contract who works less than 25% of their potential hours in any week should be compensated. Alternatively, you could substitute the ERO hourly rate if this applies to your job.

This minimum payment rate does not apply if you are on call. Where your current employment contract does not accurately reflect the average hours per week that you actually work over a 12-month period, you are entitled to a banded contract.

You can find more information in our document on the working week on how to request a banded hours contract and how to complain if you feel your request was unreasonably refused. You can enforce your legal rights by referring a dispute with your employer to the Workplace Relations Commission.

In fact, it makes certain breaches of the act a criminal offense: if the employer incorrectly designates an employee as ‘self-employed’, for example. The main thrust of this new law is to deal with ‘precarious work’, zero hours contracts, and uncertain working conditions for employees in industries which would have relied on a great deal of flexibility in the employment contract; service industries such as retail, hospitality, and tourism for example.

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(Source: giantimagemanagement.com)

The employer has a defense, however, if he can show that he exercised due diligence and took all reasonable precautions when arriving at the designation. Prohibition of zero hours contracts Zero hours contracts will be prohibited unless used in specific exceptional circumstances of genuine casual employment and where they are essential for the needs of the business in the short term or in emergency situations.

It is stressful, humiliating and makes it next to impossible for workers to plan ahead or to budget for their household expenses. The day-to-day reality of such working conditions for workers has no place in a modern, wealthy economy.

Workers are entitled to a written statement of their terms of employment within first 5 days Workers are entitled to a minimum payment if their employer fails to provide them with work.

The minimum payment they are entitled to is 3 hours pay at the minimum wage rate, or 3 hours at the JC rate if they work in a sector where an Employment Regulation Order is in force, such as security or contract cleaning. This week, following sustained union campaigning, Irish legislation came into force which bans zero -hours contracts and secures other key rights for workers in insecure employment.

Zero -hours contract workers face great uncertainty about their working hours and income, making it harder to plan their finances and other needs such as childcare. Workers have reported being denied bank loans and mortgages because of the lack of guaranteed hours in their contracts.

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(Source: giantimagemanagement.com)

Job insecurity triggers stress and anxiety amongst many workers, who have bills to pay and families to support. These workers are much less likely to receive key employment rights than they are legally entitled to, such as sick and holiday pay.

In many workplaces, unions are negotiating agreements with employers that prevent the use of zero -hours contracts, making sure that workers have greater financial and job security. The Low Pay Commission is an independent body that advises the government about the National Minimum Wage.

It provides workers with the option to ask, but no right to receive, so the power dynamic remains firmly in favor of the employer. The UK government has fostered an environment where businesses can operate with very limited obligations to the people who work for them.

This does not reflect reality: many people on zero -hours contracts are trapped in these jobs, unable to turn work down that their employer offers them. The Irish unions’ campaign and subsequent legislation has demonstrated the viability of banning zero -hours contracts.

An employer who deliberately or recklessly provides false or misleading information as part of the Day 5 statement will be guilty of an offense. Employees who aren’t given their core terms of employment in time can bring a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

An employee must have one month’s continuous service with that employer before they are entitled to bring the claim. The amendment also provides that the evidence that a witness gives at an unfair dismissal hearing at the WRC or Labor Court is privileged.

The government today approved draft legislative proposals from Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Small Business Minister Pat Been that will “address problems caused by the increased visualization of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work”. A government statement says the plans include an amendment to the Organization of Working Time Act which will outlaw zerohourcontracts “in most circumstances”.

General Secretary Patricia King said: “This is an issue that Congress has been active on for some time, and we see much of what is contained in this draft legislation as quite positive. “Congress has pressed the need for legal change to counter the downward pressure on standards that has resulted from zero hour, low hour and precarious work practices.

“The bottom line is that there are still too many people in this country going to bed on a Sunday night and not knowing how much they will earn that week because of uncertainty over their hours.” The Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty said the new legislation, published on Thursday, would significantly improve the employment protections for people who were in less secure arrangements, not by choice, and may not know from week to week what hours they will be working.

Labour Party senator GED Nash said the Bill was silent on “a new and dubious form of precarious work” known as “if and when” contracts. The Department of Employment and Social Protection said such flexibility would be required in residential care settings, for example, where a member of staff must accompany a resident in the care facility to hospital at short notice and an appropriately qualified substitute worker needed to be called in to cover the absence.

Leigh Day said that the settlement with former worker Camera Gabriel-Abraham meant Sports Direct was required to “expressly state that the roles do not guarantee work and produce clear written policies setting out what sick pay and paid holiday their zero hours staff are entitled to”. Elizabeth George, who represented Ms Gabriel-Abraham in her claim against Sports Direct for sex discrimination, unfair treatment and breach of holiday rights, said: “Sports Direct continue to deny any wrong doing or short-falls in their treatment of zero -hours workers but Camera and many more of the company’s zero -hours staff will tell you differently.

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