Human Rights and Equality Commission Statement on Precarious Employment and Zero-Hour Contracts Legislation

Commission Provided Preliminary Legislative Observations

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has noted today’s publication of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, welcoming aspects of the Bill.

Ahead of the Bill’s publication, the Commission submitted its preliminary legislative observations to the Department, emphaissing the need for those in so called ‘precarious work’ to be afforded greater protection and security through this legislation.

A lack of specified and secure hours of work and the provision of contracts that state hours below those actually worked lead to insecurity of income, restrict the ability to organise family life, including child care, and inhibit the ability to secure loans and mortgages.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission made its legislative input to the Bill under its statutory mandate to review draft legislation to make sure it meets with human rights and equality standards, and to inform policy makers where legislation has implications for human rights and equality in Ireland.

The Commission today welcomed aspects of the published Bill, including the entitlement of workers to a minimum payment if called in, but not given work; and protection against penalisation where employees invoke their rights.  The Commission also welcomed the creation of a new criminal offence recognising the importance of effective protection for vulnerable workers.

In relation to the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill:

  • On core terms of employment – The Commission has recommended that all workers should be provided with their core conditions of employment including the employer details, length of working day and contract duration. This should be provided in writing before the employment commences.
  • On ‘zero-hour’ contracts – The Commission has indicated its concern that such contracts could remain in practical terms, due to what is described as the “as and when” provision being retained in the legislation.
  • On banded hours – The Commission has highlighted its concerns on banding provisions and suggests that a contracting arrangement that seeks to accurately reflect the hours worked may provide workers with more robust protection from significant reductions in income.

Speaking today, Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as Ireland’s National Equality Body provided its legislative observations to this Bill as we believe that it can make a significant contribution towards positive working practices and arrangements. This is about ensuring workers and employers understand their obligations and responsibilities and ensuring dignity and respect for all in the workplace.”


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.


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