Government plans to limit the length of time an employer can put a worker on probation

SETTING TIME LIMITS on how long an employer can put a worker on probation should be considered by the government, according to Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Leo Varadkar.

He also confirmed that he wanted to ensure that more reasonable notice periods were given to employees when their work was of an unpredictable nature.

As part of the review, the Minister is seeking opinions on new rights to improve the general conditions of workers.

A European directive on transparent and predictable working conditions will be transposed into Irish law by August 2022. It will give workers the right to:

  • More complete information on the essential aspects of the work, which must be received early by the worker, in writing
  • A limitation of the length of trial periods at the start of employment
  • Additional job search, with prohibition of exclusivity clauses and limitation of incompatibility clauses
  • Knowing within a reasonable time in advance when the work will take place – i.e. for workers with very unpredictable working hours, as in the case of on-demand work
  • Request to be transferred to a form of employment offering more predictable and safer working conditions, if applicable, and receive a reasoned written response
  • To receive compulsory, free training which is necessary to perform the work for which he is employed.

In a statement on the review of working conditions, the Tánaiste said he wanted one of the aftermath of the pandemic to create better conditions for workers.

“This is why we are introducing a new compulsory sickness benefit scheme, new rights regarding the request for remote work and the right to disconnect, for example. Much of what is required under this directive has already been implemented, such as the restriction on zero hour contracts, and we are now preparing to implement the remaining provisions, ”he said.

“We will consider limiting the length of time an employer can put a worker on probation and ensuring that workers receive the training they need to do their jobs. We will also ensure that more reasonable notice periods are given when the work is of an unpredictable nature. I look forward to reviewing all of the views received. I also want to make sure that no changes will harm job creation or create unrealistic or onerous obligations for employers, ”he added.

A statement from the ministry says that the 2018 Jobs (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act has preceded many aspects of the EU Directive, such as legislation already in force for the introduction of anti-criminalization provisions, penalties tougher cases of non-compliance, restricting zero-hour contracts and providing more precise information on working hours and other essential employment conditions to employees at an earlier stage of the employment relationship.

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However, the new EU law goes further than what is spelled out in current Irish law, which is why the government must ensure that the other provisions are put into law by next year.

The submission deadline is Monday, October 25, 2021 at 3 p.m.

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