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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick

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Peter Fitzpatrick

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Snippet Contents:

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 proposes to introduce measures to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees who work under insecure contracts and also those who work variable hours. The Bill addresses areas that have been identified where current employment rights legislation should be strengthened to the benefit of employees, particularly low-paid more vulnerable workers, without imposing unnecessarily onerous burdens on employers and businesses.
Like many others, employers in my home town, Dundalk, have concerns that vulnerable low-paid workers are being exploited by unscrupulous employers in various ways, such as workers being called into work and then sent home without being given the hours of work or any compensation; insecure working arrangements; employees not knowing what hours they will be working from one week to the next; workers not being properly informed of their terms and conditions of employment by their employer; workers not knowing who their employer is or what is the legal entity that employs them; and workers on low-hour contracts who consistently work more hours than provided for in their contract. These cause difficulties for workers when they try to get a mortgage or access to other financial credit.
It may also be used as a means of exercising undue control over employees where the threat of being put back on lower hours hangs over the employee. The Bill will address these issues. The Bill will prohibit zero-hour contracts in most circumstances except in situations of genuine employments and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergencies or to cover short-term absences.
All employees, including those on if-and-when contracts, will benefit from the balanced measures proposed in the Bill. It will also provide for a new minimum payment for low-paid workers who may be called into work but are sent home again without the promised work or any meaningful compensation. The focus is on low-paid employees and this new minimum payment is being linked to the national minimum wage to ensure the measure is focused on those most in need of stronger protection in this area. It is expected that the provision will also act as a deterrent against the unscrupulous practice of employers calling into work, for example, ten people where there is only work for five people and the first five who show up get the work.
The Bill also provides that employers must give employees five core terms of employment within five days of commencement of employment. Employers who have not provided this statement after one month will be open to prosecution, which is a new offence. It will also be an offence for an employer to deliberately misrepresent the information required in the statement of five core terms.
The Bill will provide strong anti-penalisation measures for employees who invoke their rights under the legislation. This is a key element of the Bill, particularly for workers in less secure employment who may be afraid to exercise their rights. The legislation will also introduce new rights for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work. This creates difficulties for employers in accessing credit, including mortgages.