Limits on probation among planned workers’ rights measures

Varadkar to launch consultation process on improving working conditions for employees

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said  an EU directive would give workers the right to receive mandatory training, cost-free, that is required to carry out the work for which he or she is employed. Photograph: iStock

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said an EU directive would give workers the right to receive mandatory training, cost-free, that is required to carry out the work for which he or she is employed. Photograph: iStock

 

The Government is considering introducing limits on the length of time an employer can leave an employee on probation as part of new improvements to workers’ rights.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Leo Varadkar, said the Government would be moving to implement outstanding parts of an EU directive on working conditions. He will on Friday launch a consultation process to seek the views of interested parties on plans for improving employee rights and working arrangements.

He said an EU directive on transparent and predictable working conditions would be transposed into Irish law by next August.

He said the directive would give workers the right to:

  • More complete information on the essential aspects of the work, which is to be received early by the worker, in writing;
  • A limit to the length of probationary periods at the beginning of a job;
  • Seek additional employment, with a ban on exclusivity clauses and limits on incompatibility clauses;
  • Know in a reasonable period in advance when work will take place – ie for workers with very unpredictable working schedules, as in the case of on-demand work;
  • To request to be transferred to a form of employment with more predictable and secure working conditions where available and receive a reasoned written reply;
  • To receive mandatory training, cost-free, that is required to carry out the work for which he or she is employed.

Mr Varadkar said employment legislation introduced in 2018 which, for example, restricted the operation of zero-hours contracts, put into law many of the provisions of the directive.

He said the Government now was moving to implement the remaining elements.

“We will be considering putting limits on the length of time an employer can put a worker on probation and ensuring workers get the training they need to do their job. We will also be ensuring more reasonable periods of notice are given when work is unpredictable in nature. I look forward to considering all views received. I also want to make sure that any changes won’t damage job creation or create unrealistic or onerous obligations on employers.”

The Tánaiste said he wanted one of the legacies of the pandemic to be better terms and conditions for workers.

He said that while the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 had pre-empted many aspects of the directive such as the introduction of anti-penalisation provisions, stronger penalties for non-compliance, restriction of zero-hours contracts, there was also a requirement to go beyond and building on measures in this legislation.

The Department of Enterprise and Employment said the new directive covered all workers in all forms of work, including those in the most flexible non-standard and new forms of work such as, casual work, domestic work, voucher-based work or platform work.

It said the directive also contained targeted provisions on enforcement, to make sure that workers effectively benefit from these rights.

The deadline for receipt of submissions on the issue is Monday, October 25th.