New report warns against the use of 'if and when' contracts

The report on 'zero hour' contracts will go before the Oireachtas Jobs Committee

Zero hour contracts, report, University of Limerick, if and when contracts, Mandate, Oireachtas Jobs Committee

Office workers in Dublin | Image:

A new report is warning against the use of so-called 'if and when' contracts.

A study on the prevalence of 'zero hour' contracts among Irish employers and their impact on employees is being presented to an Oireachtas Jobs Committee later today.

The report from the University of Limerick warns that employers are using 'if and when' arrangements to avoid having to pay low-hours workers their minimum entitlements.

The report found the use of 'if and when' contracts is most prevalent in the accommodation/food and retail sectors, with 5.3% of employees in Ireland working with constantly variable hours.

It says life on these type on contracts is found to create difficulties in managing the work and family life balance, predicting income and accessing social welfare benefits.

The report makes several recommendations, including: employees given a contract on their first day of work, an employee is given 72 hours notice for a shift and is paid time and a half if they are called into work with less notice.

John Douglas, general secretary of the Mandate trade union, says these contracts put workers in a precarious position.

"An 'if and when contract' is a contract that doesn't guarantee you any minimum number of hours" he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"So you have workers who don't know whether they're going to get 10 hours a week or 40 hours a week - and it'll vary up and down from week to week depending on circumstances and depending on the attitude of local managers" he added.