Ireland passes ground-breaking Employment Bill banning zero hour contracts


Ireland passes ground-breaking Employment Bill banning zero hour contracts

UNI welcomes decision by Ireland to ban zero hours contracts as a major victory for workers

A new Employment Bill banning zero hour contracts has been passed by Ireland’s legislature, the Oireachtas. The new legislation bans if-and-when contracts except in cases of genuine casual employment or in emergency situations.

UNI Global Union’s Head of Commerce, Mathias Bolton said, “Ireland is leading the way and is the first country to effectively ban zero hour contracts. Many commerce workers have in particular suffered from zero hours contracts, not knowing from one day to the next when they will work and if they will have enough hours to feed their families or make ends meet. Other countries must follow Ireland’s lead.”

The Employment Bill has been described by Ireland’s politicians and media as one of the most significant pieces of employment law in a generation.

Employment Bill provisions:

  • Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within five days;
  • Prohibits zero hour contracts except in situations of genuine casual employment and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence;
  • A new minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work;
  • Banded Hours provisions: a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work whereby they will be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12 month reference period;

Anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.

Ireland’s Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, said, “This is one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation and, crucially, will improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. In a changing world, this reform ensures that the legal protections for all workers will match the conditions experienced by a modern workforce and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of workers.


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