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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Bills\Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

We are getting there. The issue of protection for workers who are in precarious work situations is of deep concern to us all. We are all aware from the amount of contact that we have received on this matter that the levels of uncertainty that zero-hour contracts create for workers and families is enormous and it is long overdue to be addressed. I wish the Minister well in that regard. Tús maith, leath na hoibre. That is why I am happy to note that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure that employees are better informed about the nature of their employment arrangements and, in particular, their core terms at an early stage of their employment. That information should even be available to them before they commence employment. The Bill will also create a new offence of the non-provision of core terms within a specified period and will prohibit zero-hour contracts in most circumstances.
Like Deputy Michael Collins and many others have stated, it is not the ordinary small business person we are discussing. Small shopkeepers, building contractors and manufacturers look after their staff because they must provide a quality service. For example, a farmer knows that, if he or she does not produce quality milk or products, he or she will be penalised, and rightly so. Having clean and green food from field to fork is important. Employers need quality staff as well. The majority have them. This is a busy time for feirmeoirí go léir, given that it is calving season. They need reliable and dedicated staff. We all do. I should have declared at the start - the Acting Chairman might have said that I was too slow starting - that I am an employer and might have some vested interest. I have had excellent staff. I have been in business since 1982, with my good wife managing it and mise as láthair go leor den am. I have been missing in áit eile. Only for our diligent and dedicated employees, we would not still be in business and our customers would not be able to avail of our services. I thank the customers for their support as well. It is all encompassing.
It is a pity that greed has grown. It came with the Celtic tiger when that beast arrived on our shores, reigned for a number of years and ruined the situation for everyone. People believed that they would never see another poor day, but some pulled the ladder up after them and to hell with everyone else. "Croppies Lie Down". That is how it came back again. That greed is sad. We were talking about it earlier when discussing what our bankers had been getting away with, but this is different. We want a recovering economy. We are supposed to be in a recovering economy, but Fine Gael overkilled that line in the election. It was "recovery, recovery, recovery," but the tiger was gone and we could not find the recovery. Since then, Fine Gael has returned in much smaller numbers than in the previous incarnation. I hope that it has learned a salutary lesson from that.
I am not big on all of these new offences because enforcement is an issue. We have too many offences, laws and regulations. All we want is common decency, a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and proper treatment for employees by their employers. That is not too much to ask for. The Bill seeks to strengthen the provisions around minimum payments to low-paid employees who may be called in to work for a period but not be provided with that work. An enhanced minimum payment is being introduced.
A 2015 report from UL found that there was no commonly used national or international definition of "low hours working". The report went on to note that CSO data showed that 2% of employees regularly worked one to eight hours per week, 6% worked nine to 18 hours per week and 24% worked 19 to 35 hours per week. Very low hours - one to eight hours - are prevalent in the wholesale, retail, accommodation and food sectors. These are important sectors, so it is not acceptable. The Bill should have been built around the study from UL, which is my good colleague's erstwhile university. Indeed, we were down there in the days when it was dangerous.