The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018
The Employment Act 2018 was signed into law at the end of December 2018 and enacted in March of this year.
The new Act seeks to protect workers on insecure Contracts or working variable hours, what could otherwise be called “casual working”. There is no statutory definition of casual employment, and there were very few references to “casual work” in any Irish employment legislation to date. “Casual Worker” is a general term that applies to a range of non-typical working arrangements. The term normally included:
- Those required to work without fixed hours
- Those required to make themselves available at certain times to be called upon to work
- Those required to make themselves available on a “when needed” basis, and
- Those with the option to take on work irregularly.
Who is affected?
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 affects all employees, including “casual workers” on a “when needed” basis and those on limited or a small number of working hours.
Written Terms & Conditions of Employment Requirement
The 2018 act sees the introduction of an obligation to inform employees in writing, within five days of commencement of employment, of certain core terms of employment. Regardless of whether an employee is taken on indefinitely, or on a casual basis, these provisions apply. This means that, once the “casual worker” has agreed to work, the obligations under the 2018 act are triggered. The employer must now inform employees of:
- The full names of the employer and the employee
- The address of the employer in the State or the address of the employer’s principal place of business in the State
- In the case of a temporary contract, the expected duration of the contract
- The rate/method of calculating pay and the pay-reference period, and
- The number of hours the employer reasonably expects the employee to work per day and per week.
Employers failing to comply with this obligation within one month of commencement of employment, or deliberately providing false or misleading information, are liable to a fine of up to €5,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.
This new obligation is in addition to an employer’s existing obligation to provide employees with details of certain terms and conditions of employment, in writing, within two months of the commencement of their employment.
Zero-hour Contracts Prohibition
These are arrangements where an employee is requested to be available for a certain number of hours per week without a guarantee of work. Employers will no longer be allowed to provide zero-hour contracts to employees, except in cases of emergency cover or short-term relief work.
Where and employer requires an employee to remain available to work, but then does not actually require the employee to work the employee is entitled to be paid for at least 25% of their contracted work, or 15 hours, whichever is the lesser (the guaranteed hours).
What has really changed is that there is now a minimum payment payable to employees. There is some confusion as to how this works as to whether the minimum payment is:
- The normal hourly rate for pay for each of the guaranteed hours, subject to a minimum payment of three hours (that is, a minimum payment of €29.40 – three hours x €9.80, which is the current minimum wage), or
- Whether the guaranteed hours are calculated using an hourly rate of three times the national minimum wage, which for an employee entitled to 15 hours would equal to a payment of €441.00 for the week (that is, 15 x (€9.80 x 3)).
Interns and work-experience
This is one area of casual work not captured by the 2018 act – and which is still untouched in terms of regulating legislation – is that of internships and periods of “work experience”
Usually, irrespective of the title or label attributed to an individual on work experience will be deemed to be an employee if he/she is performing work that is of value to an organisation. Where an intern or individual on work experience is effectively shadowing another employee, and the internship or work experience is predominantly educational in nature, the intern or individual on work experience is less likely to be deemed an employee.
If you require any further information on the issue please contact us on 0719162211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.