From the 16th. December 2022 the European Union ( Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions ) Regulations 2022 introduced significant changes to the law on contracts of employment and working conditions for employees. The Directive aims to improve working conditions for employees in Europe and particularly those in low paid or unsecure employment.
The key changes introduced by the Directive that Irish employers should be aware of when drafting and reviewing contracts of employment and policy documents are set out below:.
The probationary periods of employees, in the private sector, should not exceed 6 months except in exceptional circumstances. Where the probationary period is, on an exceptional basis, to be longer than six months, it cannot exceed 12 months and must “be in the interest of the employee”.
If an employee avails of certain categories of protected leave during the probationary period (for example maternity, adoptive, carer’s, paternity, parental, parent’s or sick leave), the probationary period is to be extended by the employer for the duration of the employee’s absence.
In relation to fixed-term contracts the length of a probationary period for employees in fixed-term contracts shall be proportionate to the expected duration of the fixed-term contract and the nature of the work. Where a fixed-term contract is renewed for the same tasks and functions, the renewed fixed-term contract should not contain a new probationary period.
Additional Regulations have also been introduced for the following:
- From 16 December 2022 employees must receive information in relation to remuneration including basic rate of pay and any additional payments, the place of work and , where there is no specific fixed place of work , a statement setting out that the employee is employed at various places or is free to determine his/her own place of work, the title or grade of the work or a brief description of the work, the commencement date of the contract, any terms and conditions relating to hours of work including overtime and the duration and conditions of any probationary period. This information has to be provided within five daysof commencing employment.
- Employees must receive a full written contract of employment within one monthfrom commencement of employment. The contract of employment must include training entitlements, paid leave entitlements, procedures to be observed on termination, any applicable collective agreements and for agency workers the identity of the end user.
- Employees who work unpredictable work patterns must be informed that their work schedule is variable. The contract must also set out the number of guaranteed paid hours and the remuneration for hours worked in addition to the guaranteed hours, the hours and days the employees may be required to work and the minimum notice period the employee is entitled to before the start of a work assignment. These employees also have a right to request a form of employment with more secure working conditions after they have successfully completed six months of service. The employer must provide the employee with a reasoned reply to the request within one month.
- Employees posted overseas must receive information regarding remuneration in accordance with local law entitlements, arrangements for expenses and a link to an official EU website which sets out the terms and conditions that apply to workers posted abroad.
- Exclusive service clauses in contracts of employment are prohibited except where it is proportionate to do so and , most importantly, the requirement can be objectively justified on particular grounds such as health and safety, protection of business confidentiality and avoidance of conflicts of interest.