The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on Christmas Day 2018 and is scheduled to commence in the first week of March 2019.

The Act aims to protect people who have unpredictable and insecure working hours. The main implications for employers are in sectors where the use of flexible working arrangements is widespread, such as retail, tourism and hospitality.

The new Act will amend the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 – 2014.

  1. Written statement of terms

Employers will be required to provide employees with a written statement (the Written Statement) setting out five core terms within five actual days (not business days) of starting employment.

  1. Prohibition of “zero hours” contracts

Employers will no longer be able to require employees to be available for work without specific set hours within a contract except in very limited circumstances. (i.e. an emergency demand for short-term or casual work).

  1. Introduction of a “minimum payment”

If an employer fails to require an employee to work 25% of their contracted hours, the employee is entitled to a minimum payment (equivalent to 25% of the contract hours or 15 hours, whichever is lesser, and calculated at 3 times the national minimum wage). This entitlement does not apply to employees who are required to make themselves available on an “on-call” basis.

  1. Introduction of “banded hours”

The Act enables employees, where their contract does not reflect the hours they have actually worked in the previous 12 months, to request to be placed in a specified “band” of weekly hours.

  1. Anti-penalisation measures

The Act introduces much stronger anti-penalisation provisions within the Organisation of Working Time Act and the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts in order to protect employees looking to exercise these new rights.

Prior to the commencement of the Act, employers should:

  • Ensure they have systems in place to provide new hires with the Written Statement within the tight 5 day timeframe;
  • Audit existing contracts of employment and identify groups of employees who frequently work in excess of their contracted weekly hours to ensure employees’ contractual hours match up to hours actually worked on a weekly basis;
  • Review and regularise any employees currently engaged on a “zero hours” basis, discontinuing such arrangements  (save if the above limited circumstances apply);
  • Ensure that accurate records are maintained of weekly hours worked by each employee.

 

If you require any advice in relation to the above, please contact Aoife Hennessy on ahennessy@sweeneymcgann.com or 061 418277.