zero hour contracts

The Labour Court has issued a recommendation giving improved terms and conditions to Home Help workers employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The recommendation, which is binding under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, was issued on 18th September, 2013, and will affect the employment terms and conditions of approximately 10,000 workers.  It is important to note that this agreement only applies to Home Helps who are employed by the HSE. Individuals employed by private companies or not-for-profit providers are not covered by this Labour Court recommendation.

Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) has been campaigning since 2009 in a bid to secure adequate contracts and security of earnings for its members. The Union has welcomed the Labour Court decision which brings an end to the extensive system of zero-hour contracts. Paul Bell, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, stated that the agreement put the terms and conditions of Home Helps on a “firm and binding platform for the first time since the community service was established thirty years ago”.

Zero-hours contracts are a type of employment where an employee must be available for work but does not have specified or guaranteed hours or a formal roster. This can cause challenging circumstances for employees where the hours of work as well as earnings are unpredictable.

This Labour Court agreement provides for the issuing of annualised contracts guaranteeing a minimum of seven to 10 hours of work per week for each Home Help. Caroline Jenkinson, Labour Court Deputy Chairman, explained that “the number of hours to be allocated to each person will be based on 80 per cent of their actual hours worked in the six-month reference period between October 1st, 2011, and March 31st, 2012, with a minimum guarantee of seven hours”.

In addition to welcoming the removal of the zero-hours system Mr. Bell of SIPTU applauded a HSE effort to reorganise and manage the Home Help hours on a county by county basis.

Those who choose not to work under the annualised hour scheme may be entitled to receive compensation of between €2,000 and €3,000 under an exit deal.

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