Major new employment laws to shake up Irish business

Major new employment laws to shake up Irish business

A new Act containing major employment law reforms comes into force on 1st March 2019. It’s so significant that the Minister for Employment Affairs, Regina Doherty, labelled it a “once-in-a-generation reform of our labour market.” And for good reason:

It has the potential to put every single employer in Ireland at greater risk of prosecution. But the penalties aren’t just a slap on the wrist. You could face criminal punishment.

What is the Act for?

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 aims to protect people who are in precarious work conditions. For example, that could be people on zero hour or short-term contracts—which no doubt includes a large portion of employees working for organisations within the current Chambers Ireland member base. But while the Act’s primary goal is to protect those in precarious work, it applies to all employees and has a major impact on employers, too.

That’s because failure to comply with the upcoming law could lead to a €5,000 fine and 12 months in prison. With such seemingly draconian penalties and the Act’s launch date looming, we break down what Chambers Ireland members need to know.

The four new provisions

Within the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, there are four new provisions that are the most important. Understand each one and assess its impact on your company’s current work practices.

  1. Early issuing of five core terms of employment: From the date new employees join your business, you have five days to give them five core terms of employment in writing. If you fail to provide your employees with their written statement of core terms within one month, you will be guilty of criminal offence which is punishable by both a financial penalty and a custodial sentence.


  1. Zero hour contracts abolished: As giving greater security to those in precarious work is the Act’s primary goal, it’s no surprise to see zero hour contracts banned. The only exception is if your business faces an emergency demand for casual or short-term relief workers. However, the ban raises the prospect of a logistical nightmare for Chambers Ireland members who currently rely on zero hour contracts.


  1. Banded hours: This provision is likely to impact you if you have staff on part-time or variable hours contracts. Say you have an employee whose contracted hours are much lower than the actual hours they work. Your employee will now be entitled to request that you put them on a ‘banded hours contract’ to reflect the actual hours worked over the previous year. You may suffer payroll consequences as employees will be entitled to be paid for the minimum number of hours in the band of hours they fall into.


  1. Minimum payments if there’s no work: If you can’t offer someone any work on a certain week or you can only offer them less than 25% of their weekly contracted hours, the minimum payment affected employees receive must be no less than 3 x the national minimum wage/employment regulation order hourly rate.


How to take action

Assess whether the four new provisions put you and your senior staff at risk of prosecution, and consider the steps you need to take to comply with the laws in the short period leading up to 1st March 2019.

Chambers Ireland Member

As you’re a Chambers Ireland member, the Miscellaneous Provisions Act specialists here at Peninsula Ireland will be happy to discuss your situation and offer insights into the best options available to you.

Please call us  1890 252 923 or visit our website at


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