Minister moves to tackle zero hours contracts

Consultation opens on ‘Good Jobs’ and improving workers’ rights

Zero-hour contracts are used by employers where staff are engaged when required or where individuals choose to work.
A consultation has opened at Stormont to look at a range of employment issues including that of zero-hour contracts, which are used by employers where staff are engaged when required or where individuals choose to work

A consultation has been launched on proposals to tackle the issue of zero hours contracts in the north and to strengthen employment rights legislation which will help deliver his good jobs agenda.

One of the key objectives in the Economy Department’s economic vision is to increase the number of working age people in what are defined by the Carnegie Framework as ‘Good Jobs’.

The consultation, launched by economy minister Conor Murphy, covers a wide range of possible enhancements to employment legislation aimed at modernising our rights framework.

Running for 13 weeks until September 30, the consultation seeks views on four aspects of a Good Job - terms of employment; pay and benefits; voice and representation; and promote a healthy work-life balance.

There is no current legislation in the north around zero-hour contracts, which are used by employers where staff are engaged when required or where individuals choose to work, and where workers can often be exploited.

Mr Murphy said: “We recognise there are some situations where it actually suits people to do short term and emergency cover jobs, but there are other areas where workers can be exploited, and where they aren’t getting any sense of what they are entitled to.

“We have been looking at how this works in practice in the south and elsewhere, where there are exceptions in some particular jobs where zero-hours might work.

“But in general terms there is a sense that workers can be exploited, and we want to take steps to eradicate that.”

The minister added: “Modernising our employment law framework is one of my key priorities.

“I want to take views on a range of issues, including how to tackle zero hours contracts; ensure that tips left to workers are passed on to them in full; make it easier for trade unions to organise; and promote a healthy work-life balance so that workers can manage their work and family lives.”

He added: “I will continue to consult with business and trade union representatives to design a framework that operates effectively for businesses, for workers and for our economy. I encourage everyone to respond to the consultation at”

‘Good jobs’ could help reverse the cost of workplace conflict in Northern Ireland, which burdens employers and the region's economy with around £1 billion in costs each year.
That's according a research report commissioned by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA)
Economy minister Conor Murphy at launch of a Good Jobs report in June with Labour Relations Agency chief executive Don Leeson (Brian Thompson)

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “This is a substantial and potentially far-reaching draft programme of legislation which we look forward to engaging with the minister in the next few months.

“The big challenge is that many of our members are small businesses who do not have HR departments and at times struggle to process the complexity of employment legislation”.

“For this ‘Good Jobs’ Bill to succeed, it must work for both business of all sizes and workers alike if we are to improve productivity and grow our local economy.”