A zero-hours contract of employment is a type of employment contract where the employee is available for work but does not have specified hours of work. If you have a zero-hours contract this means there is a formal arrangement that you are required to be available for a certain number of hours per week, or when required, or a combination of both. Employees on zero-hours contracts are protected by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 but this does not apply to casual employment.
The Act requires that an employee under a zero-hours contract who works less than 25% of their hours in any week should be compensated. The level of compensation depends on whether the employee got any work or none at all. If the employee got no work, then the compensation should be either for 25% of the possible available hours or for 15 hours, whichever is less. If the employee got some work, they should be compensated to bring them up to 25% of the possible available hours.
For example, if you are required to be available for 20 hours per week, but you got no work, you would be entitled to be compensated for 15 hours or 25% of the 20 hours (that is, 5 hours), whichever is the less. In this case, 5 hours is the lesser amount. If, on the other hand, you got 3 hours' work out of the 20, you would be entitled to be compensated by 2 hours to bring you up to 25% of the contract hours.
You should refer disputes under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. You should apply within 6 months of the dispute occurring. You must use the new online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on workplacerelations.ie). However this time limit may be extended for up to 12 months if there was reasonable cause for not bringing the complaint within the first 6 months.
Further information on zero-hours contracts and your employment rights is available from Workplace Relations Customer Services - see 'Where to apply' below.
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.