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If and When arrangements will be the weapon of choice for bad employers if Employment Bill isn't amended

8 November 2018

Statement by Senator Ged Nash
Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection

Labour Party Employment Spokesperson, Senator Ged Nash, has said ‘if and when’ contracts should be outlawed.

Speaking at the launch of the TASC report on ‘Precarious Work, Precarious Lives’ he said;

“’If & When’ contracts represent the worst and most exploitative work arrangement going.

“Workers may be offered work on a Monday, but the employer has no obligation or responsibility to offer them any more hours thereafter. In effect, your ‘contract’ ends when your shift does. This makes workers cheap to hire, and easy to fire. There is no enduring contract of service, therefore you aren’t covered by employment rights legislation and your entitlement to social protection payments is limited.

“Arising from a process I kicked off in 2015, legislation is coming before the Seanad next week to better regulate precarious work in Ireland. Critically, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill dodges the question of ‘if and when’ contracts. If this is not dealt with, these rotten arrangements will become the weapon of choice for bad employers.

“There are some very welcome elements of the proposed new legislation. Many of them are drawn from the proposals I brought to government in late 2015. But it seems that, for most workers trapped in the ‘if & when’ spiral, work of that nature will continue to be treated as a casual form of work. This would deny them access to these important reforms, because they would not be classified as ‘employees’ in the first place.

“For example, ‘if and when’ workers will not be able to request that they be placed in an appropriate ‘band’ of hours to better reflect the reality of the hours they work like all other workers. This significant gap needs to be filled urgently to give hope and dignity to a cohort of workers who need to be brought in from the cold and given some hope for the future.

“I will be tabling amendments to the legislation in order to address this problem.I will propose that, where a period of employment has to be calculated, casual work should be included in the calculations if the casual worker was employed on a regular and systematic basis and if, during the period of service, the worker had a reasonable expectation of on-going employment by the same employer.

"The law must have regard to basic facts of working life such as whether the employee was offered work regularly, whether the employee generally accepted work when it was offered and whether, although the amount of work offered might vary, there was a pattern or system to the work offered each week.”