Labour Blog

Decent work is the key to a better society

Posted on May 09, 2017 at 11:11 AM

Over the weekend, Senator Ged Nash, had an opinion piece in the Irish Mirror on why we need to put a halt to precarious conditions in the workplace.


Imagine going to bed on a Sunday night without knowing how many hours you will work that week, or how much money will hit your bank account on Friday to pay the bills and put food on the table for your family.

That’s the sad reality of life for too many working people in Ireland today on so-called ‘if and when’ contracts.

Imagine always having to be on the other end of the phone, so you don’t miss that vital call from your employer, telling you to come into work at short notice.

Or, were you planning to buy a house?

Well you can all but forget about a mortgage if you’re on an uncertain hours contract.

This week, the Government published plans to tackle the scourge of low hour and ‘if and when’ contracts.


And having begun the work to make sure zero-hours type work was outlawed during my own time in the Department of Jobs, I welcome this development.

Because the scourge of ‘if and when’ contracts are making life very difficult for many working people across this country.

It is a particular feature of life for women and young people working in shops, hotels, restaurants and social care, and indeed some young teachers or college lecturers who have to wait far too long for a permanent job.

If you’re on an ‘if and when’ contract, you take all the hours you can get.

Why? Because if you don’t, you run the risk of the boss not calling you in again.  In this case, your rights and entitlements are limited.

These new plans aim to give more income security and certainty over working hours to Irish workers.

So, what will this new legislation do?

It will mean that if you are called in and there’s no work for you, you will be compensated.

If you work, say, 30 hours a week but your contract only commits to 15, then after a ‘look back’ period you will be entitled to have the real level of your working hours written into your contract.

This is good news for anyone working hard and looking for a mortgage, for example.

Importantly, you will also get your main terms and conditions – crucially the normal length of your working day and week – written down within the first week in the job.

Workers are entitled to know where they stand from day one.

We now have the goal of full employment within our grasp. This is where everyone who can work and wants to work will have a job.

But it should never be a case of a ‘job at any cost’.

Decent work is the key to a better society where work is valued and people are paid well and respected in their workplaces.

That's the foundation on which we build a successful society and a productive economy.

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