Poll: Do you support the government's proposed laws on low-hour contracts?

Some fear the so-called Banded Hours Bill could ‘wipe out’ small businesses.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

A NEW BILL governing rules around low-hour contracts is making its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The so-called ‘Banded Hours Bill’ – formally known as the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 – was introduced by Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty as a means of effectively banning zero-hour contracts: where an employee is required to be available to work but doesn’t have specific working hours.

The proposed legislation doesn’t ban such contracts outright, which has drawn criticism from Sinn Féin.

Employment Affairs Minister Regina Doherty has said the Bill will strengthen employment laws from the workers’ perspective without imposing onerous burdens on employers.

Among other provisions, the planned Bill states:

  • Minimum payments must be made to employees who are called in for work but sent home without any or far less work than promised;
  • Zero-hours contracts are prohibited except for cases of genuine casual work or emergency/short-term cover;
  • Employees who typically work more hours per week than their contract states over an 18-month period will be placed into a band of hours that reflects their situation.

However, a number of business lobby groups have described the proposed legislation as a burden for small businesses.

Writing for Fora, Small Firms Association director Sven Spollen-Behrens said the bill “oversteps the line in dictating to owner-managers how to run their businesses and the fallout for small firms will be devastating”.

Spollen-Behrens was particularly critical of how the bill might “wipe out much of the flexibility available in employment relationships”, which can of benefit to business owners, employees and customers.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Do you support the government’s proposed laws on low-hour contracts?