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Examining zero hours and low hours work in Ireland: regulation and the ‘grey zone’ of work

Researchers Involved:

Dr. Lorraine Ryan


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Sustainable Development Goals

  • 08 Decent work and economic growth

Summary of the impact:

Zero hours work is work with no guaranteed hours. Researchers at the Kemmy Business School (KBS), University of Limerick, have been examining the prevalence and impact of zero hours work and low hours work amongst Irish employees. Their government-commissioned 2015 report titled ‘A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts Among Irish Employers and Their Impact on Employees’ contained a series of recommendations on how to improve workers’ rights. These recommendations aimed to improve workers’ income security and formed the basis of public policy discussions on how to regulate zero hours and low hours work. Multiple political parties and workers rights organisations were involved in the public discussions, leading to a new piece of employment legislation, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, which was directly informed by the study. 

This legislation was the first significant enhancement of employment rights relating to working hours since the 1990s. .

The Act introduces a number of workers' rights: the right to more information about their terms and conditions, the right to more secure hours for people who regularly work more hours than those stated in their contracts, and the right to a minimum payment where a worker is required to be available for work but is not provided with work by an employer. The Act also restricts employers’ use of zero hours contracts.