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02/15/2018 12:00:00 AM


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Doherty, Regina

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Bills

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Second Stage

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

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B2r

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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Second Stage (Resumed)

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Not applicable

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2

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Senator


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Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty)

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Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty)

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Regina Doherty

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11/16/2018 04:24:17 PM

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Snippet Contents:

I appreciate the views that have been expressed today and yesterday. They have been useful for me and my officials, and I am looking forward to what will obviously be a humdinger of a debate when we get to Committee Stage.
Everyone inside and outside the House will agree that every worker and, indeed, human being has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We have a right to be respected by one another. Most importantly in a work situation, we have the right to be respected by our employers. That is why this and the previous Government - yesterday, I mentioned Senator Nash and the Ministers of State, Deputies Breen and Mitchell O'Connor, as well as the tremendous amount of work and consultation that the officials have undertaken in the past three years - worked to introduce this legislation. We want to ensure that we have copper-fastened in our law the dignity and respect that we should adhere to in society.
I will revisit a number of the points that were made during the debate. I value Deputy Burton's opinion, given that she spent five years in this Department, although it is now slightly different. She has an intense interest in this area, not least because of her political ideology. Like some other Deputies, however, she suggested that we were doing nothing to protect people on if-and-when contracts. That is not correct. The banded hours provision will apply to people on if-and-when contracts so that when they have worked an average number of hours over the 18-month reference period, they will be entitled to be placed on a band of hours that reflects the reality of the hours they have worked during that time.
The amendment of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act will require an employer to inform employees by the fifth day after commencing their employment with that company what the employer reasonably expects the normal length of their working day and working week to be. An established intention of what their work will be will be given to them. An employer will be required to state the expected duration of the contract and whether it is a temporary or fixed term.
Employees on if-and-when contracts will benefit from the new minimum compensation provisions where they are given notice of work but, after they show up, they do not get that work. They will also benefit from the anti-penalisation provisions, in that, if an employer penalises an employee for raising a query or issue or for exercising any of his or her rights under existing laws, he or she will be entitled to pursue the matter with the Workplace Relations Commission.
Deputy Penrose stated that a person on an if-and-when contract would have no recourse to employment rights bodies. With respect, that is not true. It is well established in the jurisprudence of the constitutional courts and the Labour Court that they will look behind the written terms of a contract to establish the true nature of an arrangement. The particular concern that Deputy Penrose raised was addressed in the Labour Court in a case, entitled Ticketline Trading as Ticketmaster and Sarah Mullen. The court accepted that, while the written contract of employment was that of an if-and-when type with no mutuality of obligation, it was operated on the basis that the employee was required to be available for work at all times and, therefore, was entitled to the protections of the Organisation of Work Time Act, in particular the compensations provided for under section 18.
Regarding the prohibition of zero-hour contracts, while we understand and agree with the University of Limerick, UL, that such contracts are thankfully not prevalent in Ireland, we want to ensure that it stays that way. Prohibiting such contracts except in some very limited and specific circumstances will help to achieve this goal. However, it is important for everyone to understand that we are not saying in this Bill that all casual or flexible working arrangements are wrong and should be stopped. It is worth recalling that the UL study acknowledged that the flexibility offered by genuine casual work can be mutually beneficial for employees and employers in some cases. In certain sectors, such arrangements can help employers to satisfy peak demands and fill staffing gaps on a short-term basis. It has often been mentioned in this debate that flexible arrangements only suit the employer.