Minister hoping to introduce laws to ban zero-hour contracts by Christmas

Laws outlawing zero-hours contracts will be introduced by Christmas, if the Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty gets her way.

Ms Doherty says it is time for the most vulnerable workers to get job security.

Meanwhile, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed says the system is often too complex for jobseekers.

Last week, it was announced that unemployment was down to 6.2%, with fewer than 70,000 who are long-term unemployed.

Thomas Fitzgerald is one of them, and he says it can be hard to swallow the good news.

Mr Fitzgerald said: "It is great to hear things like this, but do I really believe it? No not really.

"I do believe that there is a lot more work that can be done for people like myself that are unemployed and incentives to get people back to work."

This morning the Social Protection Minister said she would fight to ban zero-hour contracts, where people have precarious jobs with no guarantee of work.

Ms Doherty said: "I need to be able to provide a security of employment for people in the law, and that is one of my determinations, is to get this legislation published before Christmas.

"And if I can be really bold, to get it into the House before Christmas and get it started."

Thomas says he would not be where he is today without the support of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, whose spokesperson Brid O’Brien told the Minister the system is too complex.

Ms O'Brien said: "For example, what we call fast-track, a chance for people to take a break in their claims to take up part-time work, which as you move into the Christmas period can be crucial for people.

"That is very difficult to find on the department's website. A lot of frontline staff aren't aware of it."

As Minister Doherty scribbled down notes on this recommendation, Thomas says he hopes she honours her commitments.

He said: "If she says that she's going to do what she says, I'll have nothing to say to her. I'd be quite happy."

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