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The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act

In March 2019, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 comes into force. While the key objective of the Bill is to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours, it affects all employees. As an employer, you’ll be urgently reviewing all employee arrangements, including those of full-time, part-time, seasonal, zero hours and ‘casual’ workers.

Key points: Five core terms within five days

You must give all staff five core terms of employment within five days of starting work. Here are the key terms of employment that you must provide to all employees:

  • Full name of the employer and employee.
  • Address of the employer.
  • Expected duration of the contract (where the contract is temporary or fixed-term).
  • Rate or method of calculating pay.
  • What the employer reasonably expects the normal length of the employee’s working day and week will be.The aim is to inform new employees about the nature of their employment arrangements at a much earlier stage. Remember though, this provision doesn’t just apply to new employees. It applies to all employees.

Zero hour contracts ‘banned’

From March, zero hour contracts are prohibited except in cases of genuine casual work or emergency cover or short-term relief work for that employer. From then, an employer who deliberately misrepresents employees as ‘casual’ is open to being prosecuted by the WRC for providing false and misleading information. Be cautious too about invoking the exceptions as misrepresentation is an offence.

Banded hours contracts

With the prohibition of zero hour contracts, part-time and variable hours employees will be entitled ask to be put into a ‘band of hours’ that reflects the actual hours they work rather than their contracted hours.

Minimum payment provision  

For employees with a banded hours contracts who don’t work in certain weeks or who work under 25% of their weekly contracted hours, you still have to make a minimum payment. A minimum payment may also be due for employees called in to work for a period but sent home without any or significantly less work and where they have not been paid.

New right for employee

For employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours worked on a consistent basis over a reference period of 18 months, they have the right to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the actual hours worked over that reference period. The aim is to provide those employees with greater certainty and a truer reflection of their hours of work and level of earnings to ease difficulties employees may have accessing finance, including mortgages.

Remember compliance with employment legislation is important for your organisation. So if in doubt, please get expert HR advice.