By: Eoin Casey | Posted on: 04 Mar 2019

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 (“the Act”) is in force as and from the 4th of March 2019 and has been the subject of much publicity centred to a large extent on the proposal to ban zero hour working arrangements.

Zero hour contracts prohibited and minimum payment provisions

Zero hour contracts are arrangements which require the employee to be available for work for a certain number of hours per week and/or when required, but without any guarantee of work. Under the provisions of the Act, these working practices are now prohibited except in limited circumstances where cover is needed in emergency circumstances and where short term relief work is needed to cover routine absences.

The Act affords employees the right to receive certain minimum payments where, in a given week, they have been required to be available to work certain hours and/or when required but then not required for at least 25% of the “contract” hours or not required for work at all.

Core terms of employment to be provided to employees within five days

Of wider interest is the new provision requiring employers to give a written statement to their employees, within five days of commencing employment, of the following:

1. The full names of the employer and employee;
2. The employer’s address;
3. The expected duration of the contract (if temporary) or the end date (if fixed term);
4. The rate/method of calculating remuneration and the pay reference period; and
5. The number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work in a normal working day and in a normal working week.

This new requirement is additional to the obligation to provide a statement of certain particulars of employment to employees within two months of commencing work under pre-existing provisions of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994. Of concern to employers however, will be the penalties set out in the Act for failure to provide the statement of five core terms to employees. If the employee reaches one month of service without having been provided with the terms, (s)he can bring a claim against the employer to the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) and can be awarded up to four weeks’ remuneration in compensation. Additionally, the failure to provide the statement of core terms within one month of starting work can amount to a criminal offence punishable by up to one year’s imprisonment and/or a fine of up to €5,000.

It remains to be seen how this will be dealt with in practice and whether or not prosecutions will in reality be brought under the relevant section. It is notable that the Act allows for some degree of leeway to employers in relation to errors or omissions in the statement of core terms. The employer can seek that any such errors or omissions be excused due to clerical errors or if made accidentally and in good faith.

Power of WRC Adjudication Officers to direct the attendance of witnesses

Another significant development is that the Act for the first time empowers WRC Adjudication Officers to direct witnesses to attend to give evidence and/or to produce documents in unfair dismissal proceedings.

There are a number of other provisions in the Act affecting various aspects of the employment relationship.

If you are an employer or an employee and require advice on the provisions and impact of this Act, please contact the person(s) referenced below.

Key contact:

Eoin Casey

Disclaimer: This document is for information purposes only and does not represent legal advice. If you have any queries in relation to the above matters, please refer to the contacts above or alternatively to your usual contact in P.J. O’Driscoll & Sons LLP.

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