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Congress Calls for Legal Right to 'Guaranteed Minimum Working Hours'

11 Apr 2017

Patricia King home page Incoming ICTU GS Patricia King

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions today has told an Oireachtas Committee hearing that all workers should enjoy a “legal right to a guaranteed minimum number of working hours” in order to eradicate low hour and precarious work practices.

The call was made by Congress General Secretary Patricia King at a special hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation called to consider the Banded Hours Contract Bill (2016).

Addressing the Committee, Ms King said: “Congress and affiliated unions have consistently highlighted the growing problem of low hour contracts over recent years. This led to a University of Limerick study of the issue that contained recommendations on how it can be tackled. We support these recommendations and believe the Banded Hour Contracts Bill - from Sinn Fein TD David Culinane - is an important step in bringing to an end the exploitation of thousands of workers in Ireland.”

Ms King told the Committee that workers on low hour contracts had “little predictability about their working hours each week, leading to uncertainty of income, difficulties accessing credit and problems managing work and family life.”

She said the proposed bill balanced “the need to give workers more predictability about when they are required to work” with employer needs.

She pointed out that employers had circumvented a previous attempt to end the use of ‘zero hour contracts’ and said “Congress is strongly of the view that there should be a legal prohibition on such contracts.”

Ms King told the Committee that Congress was calling for:

  • A legal right to a guaranteed minimum number of working hours and ban on zero hour contracts;
  • The right to compensation – at the appropriate pay rate - when no work is available;
  • That employers be legally required to provide a written statement of terms and conditions of employment – including hours – from day one of employment;
  • The right to request additional working hours, as set out in the provisions of the Banded Hours Bill (2016).