What you need to know about the new employment legislation in Ireland

In what will be the first significant change to employee rights in Ireland in years, the Irish government is set to introduce new employment legislation.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 was signed into law by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins in December 2018 and will come into effect on 4th March 2019.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty say’s this law will “profoundly improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts.”

In this article we run through all the key information you should know about the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

Employers must give employees core terms of employment

Within 5 days of an employee starting work, employers must give employees core terms of employment.

Labelled the ‘Day 5 Statement’, in writing, the employer must notify the employee with the following:

  1. the full names of the employer and the employee
  2. the address of the employer
  3. the expected duration of the contract, in the case of a temporary contract, or the end date if the contract is a fixed-term contract;
  4. the rate or method of calculation of the employee’s pay;
  5. the number of hours the employer reasonably expects the employee to work per normal working day and per normal working week.

The other terms of employment, required to be given to the employee under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994, will continue to be required within the existing two-month period.

If an employer fails to provide an employee with a Day 5 Statement (without reasonable cause) or deliberately provides false or misleading information, they will be guilty of an offense.

The employee can then make a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and be awarded up to four weeks’ remuneration.

Protection against penalisation for employees

The new act also introduces new provisions to protect employees against penalisation for invoking their rights under the 1994 Act. According to Welfare.ie, an employer is unable to penalise or threaten penalisation for:

  • Invoking any right under the Act
  • Opposing in good faith an action that is unlawful under this Act (for example, refusing to conspire in falsifying contracts of employment)
  • Giving evidence in any proceedings under this Act (e.g. being a witness for somebody else pursuing a case under the Act in the WRC or Labour Court)
  • Giving notice of the intention of doing any of the above.

Penalisation is defined to mean any detriment to the terms and conditions of employment.

Zero hours contracts will be restricted

Under the new act, zero-hour contracts will be prohibited except in the following circumstances:

  • Where the work is of a casual nature
  • Where the work is done under emergency circumstances
  • Short-term relief work to cover routine absences for the employer.

Minimum payments for people called into work but sent home without work

With the new 2018 Act, if an employee is called to work and sent home without receiving the hours expected, the employee is entitled to a minimum payment of three times the national minimum hourly rate of pay or three times the minimum hourly rate of pay set out in an Employment Regulation Order (if one exists and for as long as it remains in force).

This new minimum payment will be payable on each occasion an employee is called in to work but does not receive the expected hours of work.

A new “band of hours” system will be introduced

If an employee’s contract does not reflect actual hours worked, they will be entitled to request to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12-month reference period.

The employee will have to submit their request in writing. The employer then has four weeks to consider it. An employer has the right to refuse the request for any the following reasons:

  • The facts do not support the employee’s claim
  • Significant changes have impacted the business. For example, if the business lost an important contract, this can be a reason to refuse the employee’s request
  • Emergency circumstances that have impacted the business. For example, adverse weather conditions that have impacted the business
  • where the hours worked by the employee were due to a genuinely temporary situation.

According to Welfare.ie, the band of hours are as follows:

Band From To
A 3 hours or more Less than 6 hours
B 6 hours or more Less than 11 hours
C 11 hours or more Less than 16 hours
D 16 hours or more Less than 21 hours
E 21 hours or more Less than 26 hours
F 26 hours or more Less than 31 hours
G 31 hours or more Less than 36 hours
H 36 hours or more  

 

National Minimum Wage rates for younger people and trainees have been simplified

The National Minimum Wage rates have been simplified to age-based rates. Training rates will also be fully abolished and follow the amended rates below.

Category of employee Hourly rate (1/1/2019) Category of employee (from 04/03/2019) Hourly Rate (Age-related from 04/03/2019
Experienced adult worker €9.80 Experienced Adult Worker €9.80
Under 18 years €6.86 Under 18 €6.86
In the first year after the date of first employment over 18 years €7.84 Aged 18 €7.84
In the second year after the date of first employment over 18 years €8.82 Aged 19 €8.82

 

According to the 2018 Act, a person who commences employment for the first time at the age of 20 or over must receive the full National Minimum Wage rate of €9.80.

Overall, from March 2019 worker rights in Ireland will see some very positive changes. Employees should expect their full terms of their employment from five days of their start date, along with new provisions to protect employees against penalisation. Zero hour contracts have been restricted for most circumstances and younger workers have been provided with simplified National Minimum Wage Rates to ensure that they’re not taken advantage of.

Interested in learning more about employment trends in Ireland?

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