Researchers at University of Limerick (UL) found that ‘if and when’ contracts have evolved to undermine protections in Irish law against the imposition of ‘zero hour contracts’.
The contracts circumvent existing legislation by, in theory, giving employees the option of refusing to work hours allocated to them at short notice. The contracts were found to be particularly prevalent in the accommodation, food and retail sectors as well as in occupations including nursing, community care and third level lecturing.
Writing in Liberty, the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash, commits to tackling this new form of precarious employment, stating that; “Too many workers go to bed on a Sunday night not knowing how many hours they will work that week, what their take-home pay will be or how they are going to organise family life around work. I am determined to tackle this.”
He said: “Tackling precarious work practices is a priority for me and the Labour Party, and is a key element of the dignity at work agenda I have been promoting since becoming Minister.”
Nash has called on stakeholders to make submissions based on the UL study, which will inform recommendations on creating greater job security that he will bring to government early in the new year.
SIPTU will be presenting an extensive submission to the minister on the UL study and on what legislative changes should be implemented to provide workers with greater job security.
SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “Our members will regard the publication of the UL report as an opportunity to deal with the abuse, misuse and manipulation of vulnerable workers in Irish society.
“We note the commitment by the minister to bring forward measures to handle this type of mistreatment by some employers and the union will engage fully in the consultation process with the intention of ensuring that the measures to be adopted will fully protect the interests of workers and their families.”
Among the proposals put forward in the UL report to assist precarious workers is a recommendation that employees receive, on day one of a new job, a contract which includes working hours that are a true reflection of what is expected of them.
Other proposals include a minimum shift of three continuous hours work for employees and, if not, that the worker should be paid for three hours. There is also a recommendation to legislate for a 72 hour notice period for any request to undertake work or cancellation of work, or compensation for not meeting this minimum notice.