Jobs & Enterprise Committee failed to establish a real problem with low-or zero-hour contracts
Zero-hours legislation is a knee-jerk reaction to populist claims
ISME, the Irish SME Association today (September 22nd) respond’s to the Taoiseach’s proposal to outlaw zero-hours contracts. The University of Limerick report, which was commissioned by the Department of Jobs and Enterprise in 2015, found that their use was ‘not in widespread use in the Irish economy.’
Earlier this year, ISME met with the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to outline its concerns with measures proposed to tackle zero-hour contracts.
The recently introduced Banded Hours Contracts Bill 2016 was an overly onerous response to the (unestablished) problem of zero hour contracts. While An Taoiseach referred to legislation to tackle zero-hour contracts, there is as yet not even a draft of the proposed Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill on the Oireachtas website.
Workers already enjoy the protection of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 against zero-hours contracts, and the Workplace Relations Commission has powers of enforcement in this regard. Since there has been no regulatory impact assessment carried out in this area, we have no basis to conclude that the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 is failing to vindicate workers’ rights. Nor have we any idea of the unintended negative consequences that might arise for employers or employees as a result of ill-considered legislation in this area.
Commenting on this ISME spokesperson John Barry said “The key point is that we are talking about a very small minority of employers abusing staff under ‘if and when contracts.’ Legislation on zero-hours contracts will not stop abuse of employees with ‘if and when’ contracts, it will simply change the rules. The bad employer will always find a way around the rules.
“This is a knee jerk reaction to a populist call by the left. Perhaps legislation recognising new working patterns would make it easier for people to get bank-loans, etc. As we head to zero unemployment and people shortages, it makes no sense to introduce legislation addressing a practically non-existent problem.”