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What employers need to know about the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 came into force on 4th March 2019. It has been called one of the most important pieces of employment legislation in a generation. Employers must be aware of, and comply with, the legislative changes or face severe penalties and even risk of imprisonment.

The bill, which is also commonly referred to as the ‘banded hours’ bill, has been implemented by the government with the purpose of protecting employees from precarious work arrangements, especially those who work variable hours.

What’s changed?

The main elements of the bill tackle zero-hour contracts, unpredictable working hours and the incorrect designation of employees. See the essential changes you need to know below.

Written terms of employment

This written statement must be provided to an employee within five days of them starting their employment. It must include the following: Employee and employer full name, employer address, expected normal working day and week, expected duration of the employment contract and the rate of pay.

Failure to provide this can result in criminal prosecution, and management can also be held individually liable.

Banded hours and zero-hours

In the instance where an employee’s actual working hours have varied greatly from their contracted hours over a period of 12 months, they can request a “band of hours” contract. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as a lack of evidence to support the claim or if there have been significant adverse changes to the business.

Another important change affecting working hours is the new restriction on zero-hours contracts. Zero-hours are now banned unless used under exceptional circumstances relating to genuine casual employment, temporary measures or emergencies.

Minimum payment or ‘sent home from work’ payment

The new minimum payment entitlement means that employees must receive 25% of their weekly contracted hours if they are not called into work or work less than 25% of their weekly contracted hours. This applies if they have not been called in to work as expected or if they turn up and are then sent home.

Continuity of employment

Continuous service rights and greater protections will be given to casual employees working systematic patterns and employees on fixed-term contracts who get re-engaged by their employer.

Designation of employees

Incorrectly designating an employee as “self-employed” will carry a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in prison and a €5,000 fine.

Support you can trust

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act creates many important action points and some challenges for all employers, but especially those with employees working variable hours. Reduce the risk of penalties by calling on our expert advice and gain peace of mind for you and people in your business.