The Employment Misc. Provisions Act 2018 made significant changes to employment rights legislation. Included in these changes are zero-hour contracts, minimum payment in certain circumstances and banded hours provisions, all of which fall under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.
Zero hours working practices refers to practices where an employee is either asked to be available for work, without the guarantee of work, or where an employee is informed that there will be work available on a specified day or days.
Compensation is payable when an employee is not required by the employer to work, even though the employee was required to make himself/herself available over a period without the guarantee of any work.
Compensation is not payable when the employee is paid wages for making himself/herself available for work if the employee has an on-call liability.
Compensation is not payable when an employee is sick, on short-time or lay-off, or in the event of an emergency.
The entitlement to the minimum payment does not apply by virtue only of an expectation having arisen that employment would be given. The compensation provision applies when the employee is notified in advance of being required to work, or where the contract of employment operates to require the employee to be available for work.
The zero hour protections apply to all employees whose contract operates to require them to be available whether they work on a casual basis or not.
In the event of an employer failing to require an employee to work at least 25% of the time the employee is required to be available to work for the employer, the employee will be entitled to payment for 25% of the contract hours or 15 hours, whichever is less.
With effect from 4 March 2019, a minimum payment entitlement arises where an employee is called in to work and does not receive the expected hours of work. This new minimum payment will be payable on each occasion an employee is called in to work and does not receive the expected hours of work.
The minimum payment on each occasion above, will be three times the national minimum hourly rate of pay or three times the minimum hourly rate of pay set out in an Employment Regulation Order (if one exists for that sector and for as long as it remains in force).
- If an employee's contract of employment operates to require the employee to be available for 48 hours in a week, he/she will be entitled to a minimum payment of 12 hours even if not required to work that week.
- If an employee is asked to be available to work 8 hours and is not called into work, the employee will be entitled to a minimum payment of 2 hours.
- If an employee is asked to be available over a period and is not called into work, the employee is entitled to 15 hours or 25% of the number of hours worked by another employee doing such work and for such number of hours as the "zero hours" employee would or could have done had he/she been called into work.
- If an employee is called in to work and sent home after 1 hour, the minimum amount payable on that occasion is 3 times the applicable minimum hourly rate (National Minimum or Employment Regulation Order).
- Casual workers, or workers who are called in from time to time do not have an automatic entitlement to zero hours compensation by virtue of an expectation alone. However, casual workers who are called in or asked to be available for work have an entitlement to compensation if not called in or given work during the period they were asked to be available.
For further information see Section 18 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.