Legislative changes affect atypical work

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Legislative changes have been introduced affecting "atypical" work under the Contracts of Employment Act, the Study Leave Act and the Occupational Safety Act. The changes came into force at the beginning of February and they aim to bring the legal status of persons in such work closer to the status of persons under a regular employment contract.

The new amendments to the Contracts of Employment Act have the effect of making it easier for fixed-term contracts to be renewed. Prior to the beginning of February when the new legislation was introduced, employers had to satisfy strict criteria if they wished to renew a fixed-term contract. As a result of the amendments to the Act, employers can now renew fixed-term contracts when the nature of the work, a temporary post, work practice or some other comparable reason so requires, and it is now much easier for them to renew fixed-term contracts on a continual basis in line with fluctuations of demand for services.

The legislative changes are expected to lead to an increase in the number of fixed-term jobs, and will remain in force until the end of 1999.

Amendments have also been made to the Study Leave Act whereby employees will now be entitled to study leave for a total maximum period of five working days providing they have had a minimum of three months' service with the same employer in one or several stages.

Improvements in the rights of employees who are transferred on a temporary basis to another employer have been made as a result of amendments to the Occupational Safety Act. This change has been made to comply with an EU Directive and will particularly affect workers in the catering trade where such arrangements are common.

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