ISME voices concern at the employment bill

ISME, the Irish SME Association voices its concern at the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 (the 'Bill') is unnecessary legislation, and fails to address the underlying problem for workers.  

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Its stated purpose is 'to provide a requirement that employers provide employees with certain terms of employment within a certain period after commencing employment.'

However, it fails to acknowledge that these requirements are already substantially filled by the Terms of Employment (Information) Act (TEIA) 1994, which requires that employment terms be provided to employees within two months.

The imposition of sanctions on employers, and the banning of Zero-Hours Contracts, are already covered by the TEIA Act. The introduction of increased administration, minimum payment periods, and banded hours, and the prevention of penalisation are new under the Bill.

An officer of a company may also be exposed to punishment if found to be in 'consent or connivance' with the failure to give notice. This proposed punishment of individuals is new, extraordinary, and it is unacceptable.

The Bill states a presumption that where a complaint of penalisation is made "it shall be presumed until the contrary is proved that the employee concerned has acted reasonably and in good faith in forming the opinion' ISME has no problem with this; however the Bill must provide reciprocity: there must be a recognition that such claims cost employers a lot of money to defend;  thus it is time that the right for an employer to be compensated should be introduced where it is seen that the employee did not act reasonably or in good faith.

Without such a right, there will be no moral hazard to making false or baseless complaints.

The banded hour qualifying period of 18 months is not unreasonable. However, the employer must have a reciprocal arrangement whereby an employee who seeks additional hours and is given them, is not entitled to reduce those hours without the employers' agreement.

ISME CEO Neil McDonnell said "The fact that the Bill simply reiterates many of the entitlements within the TEIA and the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 shows that this Bill is a flawed, superfluous, populist piece of legislation to address a problem the Government has already found not to exist.

At the same time, workers have legitimate complaints regarding 'as-and-when' contracts, which will be entirely ignored by the Bill."

ISME Spokesperson John Barry said "Whilst this Bill fails to address the problem that is claimed to exist, it has provided unfair penalisation on employers; created opportunities for employees to seek compensation where an employer has not issued a letter within five days; requires administration; and put the state (WRC) and employers to further unnecessary expense in defending vexatious claims. This is another charter for unnecessary claims against employers, which will not bring any clear benefit to employees."

 

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