DÁIL QUESTIONS WITH MINISTER FOR JOBS ON ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS

  1. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to set out how she intends to tackle the prevalence of zero-hour contracts; her policies in relation to pay and conditions in if-and-when other uncertain contracts; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [22955/17]

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: In 2015, the University of Limerick produced a paper on the prevalence of zero-hour contracts. I made a submission in that respect at the end of 2015. We discussed precarious work and banded contracts earlier. The Minister announced a couple of weeks ago that she intends to introduce legislation on this matter. Will she legislate to ban zero-hour contracts and, especially, if-and-when contracts, where there is no contractual obligation to provide work at all?

Deputy Pat Breen: I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. We have already dealt it but it is important we discuss it again because, as the Deputy rightly pointed out, this is important legislation.

On 2 May the Government approved draft legislative proposals as a response to the programme for Government commitment to address the problems caused by the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious work. The draft legislation was referred to the Office of the Attorney General on 4 May for priority drafting of a Bill.

Regarding zero-hour contracts, the intention of the proposals is to avoid the contagion of an increase in these practices in this jurisdiction. The proposals provide that an employer will no longer be able to engage an employee on a contract within the meaning of section 18 (1)(a) or 18(1)(c) of the Organisation of Working Time Act where the stated contracted hours are zero unless it is genuinely casual, emergency cover or short-term relief work.

Other employees, including those with uncertain hours and those on if-and-when contracts, will benefit from the following proposals: ensuring that employees are better informed about their employment arrangements and especially their core terms shortly after commencing work; strengthening the provisions around minimum payments to low-paid workers who may be called into work for a period but not provided with that work; providing that workers on low-hour contracts, who consistently work more hours each week than provided for in their contracts of employment, are entitled to be placed in a band of hours that reflects the reality of the hours they have worked over a reference period; and reinforcing the anti-victimisation provisions for employees who try to invoke a right under these proposals.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: The formulation of the Government’s approach to the ending of zero-hour contracts will be very important. Clearly, across a wide range of sectors of our economy, especially in the retail, hospitality and caring sectors, we have seen what the Mandate trade union has called the gross exploitation of workers. In the next period in which the legislation is being drafted, it is critical the Minister of State is prepared to stand up to organisations such as IBEC which have spoken out against the imposing of what they call onerous restrictions. We would be counting on Ministers, including the Ministers of State, Deputies Halligan and Deputy Finian McGrath, to stiffen their resolve in that regard. The Citizens Information Board reported that 7% of its 1 million queries annually relate to employment and specifically to zero-hour and if-and-when contracts, which are contracts without any contractual obligations to give hours. I look forward to the legislation but I hope that the Government will move to act on this issue.

A debate on the gig economy in UK is taking place in the lead up to the general election there. It relates to what people are prepared to do about companies such as Uber in the gig economy. Is our Government thinking along the lines of the Labour Party in the UK in terms of taking drastic action to address the gross maltreatment of workers?

Deputy Pat Breen: I am aware of the Uber case in the UK. We have been closely monitoring it. An appeal will be lodged, therefore, I would prefer not to comment on it.

Considerable time and effort went into the preparation of this legislation. We also engaged in consultation. We received 48 submissions following the completion of the University of Limerick study, which were very useful. We engaged in consultation with IBEC and the unions over a lengthy period. The Deputy can appreciate the degree of bargaining that took place with people raising their own cases during those discussions, which took place from September last year to March of this year.

The key issue is that we have good legislation. The four areas that will be covered in the legislation are the four the Deputy outlined. They include that an employee would be entitled to information at the start of his or her job, to know exactly who he or she is working for, the name and address of the employer, the hours he or she will work and how much he or she will be paid. There are 15 items listed but the employer does not have to provide those details until two months after the employment has commenced. It will not be onerous on an employer to provide information on the main areas that will be covered. An employee is entitled to know that information. We hope that the legislation we will put in place will be balanced. It will help low-paid workers, and I know the Deputy represents low-paid workers. There are three other areas and I might cover those when I reply to the Deputy later.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I thank the Minister for that information. I, and perhaps other Deputies, have received some complaints about job search websites. Constituents are concerned that some of the jobs advertised on those websites do not exist and that they are being used as a means for recruiters to access data on jobseekers. Sometimes misleading positions seem to be advertised where there is a mismatch between the salary versus the experience required and when applicants make contact they are told that the positions have been filled and then they are told about alternative positions, zero-hour and if-and-when contract positions. Could the Department examine the role of recruitment websites and recruiters generally to ensure they are not acting as a funnel to put vulnerable young people starting out on their work careers into precarious employment?

Deputy Pat Breen: The idea behind this legislation is to eliminate precarious employment and that is something we have done in the proposed legislation. It has been referred to the Attorney General’s office for priority drafting and it is important that we would get it back as soon as possible to put it in place to protect low-paid workers.

I will follow up the issue the Deputy raised about job advertisements, if he wishes, and revert to him on it. If he has more information on it, I will discuss it with my Department officials to see if we can deal with that type of activity that is happening with respect to jobs that are being advertised.

The future of work is a major issue and the Deputy mentioned the gig economy. There will be a change in the way we will be working in ten years’ time. We should not forget the rights of our employees, regardless of what changes occur in the digital economy in the next five to ten years. There is good legislation in place and it has been proven to protect the interests of employees. We should bear that in mind in moving forward with any legislation, regardless of the massive changes that will arise with the development of the digital economy in the next five to ten years, but we must be mindful that people come first.

 

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Tommy's Dáil speech questioning on uplifts to Rent Supplement

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Commission of Investigation into IBRC
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Commission of Investigation into IBRC

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015

Tommy's Dáil speech questioning Minister O'Sullivan on autism service
Tommy's Dáil speech questioning Minister O'Sullivan on autism service

Tommy's Dáil speech against sale of Aer Lingus
Tommy's Dáil speech against sale of Aer Lingus

Tommy's Dáil questions to Minister Flanagan on China
Tommy's Dáil questions to Minister Flanagan on China

Tommy's Dáil questions To Minister Richard Bruton on Cadbury Coolock
Tommy's Dáil questions To Minister Richard Bruton on Cadbury Coolock

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2014
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2014

Tommy's Dáil speech on Topical Issue Debate on National Bus Strike
Tommy's Dáil speech on Topical Issue Debate on National Bus Strike

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Spring Economic Statement
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Spring Economic Statement

Tommy's closing Dáil speech on his High Pay and Wealth Commission Bill
Tommy's closing Dáil speech on his High Pay and Wealth Commission Bill

Tommy's Dáil speech on Peace and Neutrality
Tommy's Dáil speech on Peace and Neutrality

Tommy's opening Dáil speech on his High Pay and Wealth Commission Bill
Tommy's opening Dáil speech on his High Pay and Wealth Commission Bill

Tommy's Dáil speech on Neutrality Bill
Tommy's Dáil speech on Neutrality Bill

Tommy questioning the Tánaiste on changes to One-Parent Family Payment in the Dáil
Tommy questioning the Tánaiste on changes to One-Parent Family Payment in the Dáil

Tommy's contribution to the Topical Issue Matter of Cadbury Coolock job losses in Dáil Éireann
Tommy's contribution to the Topical Issue Matter of Cadbury Coolock job losses in Dáil Éireann

Tommy questioning Health Ministers in the Dáil on services for children with autism
Tommy questioning Health Ministers in the Dáil on services for children with autism

Tommy's Dáil speech in support on Jake's Law
Tommy's Dáil speech in support on Jake's Law

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill

Tommy's Dáil speech on rising rents and the need for Rent Regulation
Tommy's Dáil speech on rising rents and the need for Rent Regulation

Tommy's Dáil speech on his submission for Budget 2015
Tommy's Dáil speech on his submission for Budget 2015

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Garda Síochana (Amendment) (No.3) Bill
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Garda Síochana (Amendment) (No.3) Bill

Tommy's Dáil speech on the Road Traffic (No.2) Bill 2014
Tommy's Dáil speech on the Road Traffic (No.2) Bill 2014

Tommy raises constituents' concerns regarding North Dublin Oil Pipeline
Tommy raises constituents' concerns regarding North Dublin Oil Pipeline

Tommy's speech on Social Clauses in Public Procurement Bill 2013
Tommy's speech on Social Clauses in Public Procurement Bill 2013

Tommy speaks on Workplace Relations Bill 2014
Tommy speaks on Workplace Relations Bill 2014

Tommy asks Minister Paschal Donohoe to introduce third payment option for penalty points offences
Tommy asks Minister Paschal Donohoe to introduce third payment option for penalty points offences

Tommy urges Minister Kelly to immediately deal with social housing crisis
Tommy urges Minister Kelly to immediately deal with social housing crisis

Topical Issue Debate on Allegations of Illegal Activity in Some Contracts under the School Building Programme
Topical Issue Debate on Allegations of Illegal Activity in Some Contracts under the School Building Programme

Tommy's Speech to the Dáil on the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill
Tommy's Speech to the Dáil on the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill

Tommy asks Minister Rabbitte about Possibility of Introducing Rent Controls
Tommy asks Minister Rabbitte about Possibility of Introducing Rent Controls

Tommy's Dáil Speech on State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014
Tommy's Dáil Speech on State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014

Tommy's Dáil Speech on Judicial Appointments Procedures Bill 2013
Tommy's Dáil Speech on Judicial Appointments Procedures Bill 2013

Tommy's Dáil Speech on Cemetery Management Bill 2013
Tommy's Dáil Speech on Cemetery Management Bill 2013

Dáil Statement by Tommy on Social Housing Crisis
Dáil Statement by Tommy on Social Housing Crisis

Tommy speaks in Dáil on Garda Inspectorate Report
Tommy speaks in Dáil on Garda Inspectorate Report

Tommy asks Minister Joan Burton about Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times
Tommy asks Minister Joan Burton about Social Welfare Appeals Waiting Times

Tommy's Statement to the Dáil in response to Allegations about An Garda Síochána
Tommy's Statement to the Dáil in response to Allegations about An Garda Síochána

Tommy speaks on Offshore Wind Energy Plan in Dáil Éireann
Tommy speaks on Offshore Wind Energy Plan in Dáil Éireann

Dáil Speech by Tommy on Roads Bill 2014
Dáil Speech by Tommy on Roads Bill 2014

Tommy asks Minister Noonan about future of Irish Nationwide Mortgage Holders
Tommy asks Minister Noonan about future of Irish Nationwide Mortgage Holders

Tommy Calls for Commission of Investigation into Stardust Fire in Dáil Éireann
Tommy Calls for Commission of Investigation into Stardust Fire in Dáil Éireann

Tommy's Dáil Statement on Effects of Recent Flooding
Tommy's Dáil Statement on Effects of Recent Flooding

Tommy asks Minister Deenihan about War Commemorations
Tommy asks Minister Deenihan about War Commemorations

Tommy Broughan TD asks Taoiseach about Commission of Investigation for Stardust Fire
Tommy Broughan TD asks Taoiseach about Commission of Investigation for Stardust Fire

Tommy Broughan TD speaks at Conference 09
Tommy Broughan TD speaks at Conference 09

Tommy Questions Taoiseach on Aer Lingus Dispute
Tommy Questions Taoiseach on Aer Lingus Dispute

Tommy's Dail Speech on Illegal Occupations in Newtown Court & Clongriffin
Tommy's Dail Speech on Illegal Occupations in Newtown Court & Clongriffin

Tommy's Dáil speech on National Minimum Wage
Tommy's Dáil speech on National Minimum Wage

Labour Party Conference 2010
Labour Party Conference 2010

Dail Tourism Debate
Dail Tourism Debate

Labour Party Conference 2009
Labour Party Conference 2009

Dublin Bay North