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What are the new 'casual employment' laws that came into force today?

Zero-hour contracts are banned in most circumstances from today.

Image: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

NEW LAWS HAVE come into effect today that aim to regulate hours given to those who are in casual employment.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 affects new and current employment contracts – here’s a breakdown of what it means.

The new laws ensure that workers are entitled to a written statement of their terms of employment within the first five days of being hired, and much-criticised zero-hour contracts are banned (except in cases where emergency cover needs to be provided or in short-term absences).

The new laws also mean that workers are entitled to a minimum payment if they show up for work but are sent home without work; this would be equal to three times the national minimum hourly rate of pay or three times the minimum hourly rate of pay set out in an Employment Regulation Order. 

Another new employment law change is the band of hours, which ensures that the contract a worker is on accurately reflects the hours they work.

Trade union the ICTU gives the following example to illustrate that last point: “if a worker’s contract guarantees 10 hours per week but for the last 12-month period the worker has worked an average 25 hours per week, they are entitled to be placed on a band of hours that guarantees them a minimum of 21 hours per week.”

Here are the band ranges so you can find out where your job fits on:

  • A: 3 – 6 hours
  • B: 6 – 11 hours
  • C: 11 – 16 hours
  • D: 16 – 21 hours
  • E: 21 – 26 hours
  • F: 26 – 31 hours
  • G: 31 – 36 hours
  • H: 36 hours and over

Other amendments to employment law means that employees on a temporary contract must be given the expected duration of the contract. If it’s a fixed contract they must be told the end date.

Two new offences are being introduced as part of the new laws:

  • An employer who, without reasonable cause, fails to provide an employee with the Day 5 statement within one month of commencement of employment will be guilty of an offence.
  • An employer who deliberately or recklessly provides false or misleading information as part of the Day 5 statement will be guilty of an offence.

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 Labour Court is privileged.  It also means that a witness who is compelled to attend the hearing or provide relevant information, and does not do so, is liable to prosecution. 

From this month, a person starts their first job aged 20 or over must receive the full National Minimum Wage rate of €9.80 (training rates vary between €7.35 to €8.82 an hour for those aged 18 and over).

President Michael D Higgins signed The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 into law on Christmas Day – you can find more detailed information here.

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