Employment Bill

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New clause 3

Fixed-term work: Northern Ireland

    (1) The Department for Employment and Learning shall make regulations—

    (a) for the purpose of securing that employees in fixed-term employment are treated, for such purposes and to such extent as the regulations may specify, no less favourably than employees in permanent employment, and

    (b) for the purpose of preventing abuse arising from the use of successive periods of fixed-term employment.

    (2) The regulations may—

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    (a) specify classes of employee who are to be taken to be, or not to be, in fixed-term employment;

    (b) specify classes of employee who are to be taken to be, or not to be, in permanent employment;

    (c) specify circumstances in which employees in fixed-term employment are to be taken to be, or not to be, treated less favourably than employees in permanent employment;

    (d) specify circumstances in which periods of fixed-term employment are to be taken to be, or not to be, successive;

    (e) specify circumstances in which fixed-term employment is to have effect as permanent employment;

    (f) make provision which has effect in relation to employees in fixed-term employment generally or provision which has effect only in relation to specified classes of employee in fixed-term employment.

    (3) The regulations may—

    (a) confer jurisdiction (including exclusive jurisdiction) on industrial tribunals;

    (b) provide for specified obligations not to apply in specified circumstances;

    (c) make provision about notices or information to be given, evidence to be produced and other procedures to be followed;

    (d) amend, apply with or without modifications, or make provision similar to any provision of—

    (i) the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1919) (including, in particular, Parts 6, 11 and 15),

    (ii) the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (S.I. 1995/1980 (N.I. 12)), or

    (iii) the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 (c.7);

    (e) provide for the provisions of specified agreements to have effect in place of provisions of the regulations to such extent and in such circumstances as may be specified.

    (4) Without prejudice to the generality of this section, the regulations may make any provision in relation to employees which appears to the Department for Employment and Learning to be necessary or expedient—

    (a) for the purpose of implementing Council Directive 99/70/EC on the framework agreement on fixed-term work in its application to terms and conditions of employment;

    (b) for the purpose of dealing with any matter arising out of or related to the United Kingdom's obligations under that Directive;

    (c) for the purpose of any matter dealt with by the framework agreement or for the purpose of applying the provisions of the framework agreement to any matter relating to fixed term workers.

    (5) Power to make regulations under this section includes power—

    (a) to make different provision for different cases or circumstances;

    (b) to make such incidental, supplementary, consequential or transitional provision as the Department for Employment and Learning thinks fit, including provision amending an enactment.

    (6) Power to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory rule for the purposes of the Statutory Rules (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 (S.I. 1979/1573 (N.I. 12)).

    (7) Regulations under this section shall not be made unless a draft of them has been laid before and approved by resolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    (8) In this section—

    (a) ''employee'' means an individual who has entered into or works under (or, where the employment has ceased, worked under) a contract of employment, and

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    ''contract of employment'' means a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied, and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing.'.—[Alan Johnson.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Amendment made: No. 208, in Long title, line 9, after 'work;' insert 'to make provision about flexible working;'.—[Alan Johnson.]

Alan Johnson: I wish to thank the members of the Committee, all of whom contributed to the debate, apart from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Laxton), who has been as silent as a Trappist monk because of the conventions of Parliamentary Private Secretaries. The thought of my hon. Friend as a monk frightens me.

I wish to thank you, Mr. Amess, and your co-Chairmen for your excellent chairmanship of the Committee. I wish to thank the Opposition, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats—I know that they are vying for the position of official Opposition; long may they do so—who provided opposition in the best parliamentary tradition. In particular, the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge has done much for the Committee. He has been assiduous and unfailingly courteous. We have had some hairy moments, but the Opposition have been responsible in every way.

We shall all wonder what to do with our time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I wish to thank all members of the Committee for their excellent participation.

Mr. Hammond: I do not wish to delay the Committee, because I know that many hon. Members wish to attend Question Time. I echo the Minister's sentiments. I am grateful to him for the constructive and serious way in which he dealt with

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our proposed amendments. He answered our questions and dealt with the issues that we raised. Those outside bodies who have watched the proceedings will be grateful for that.

I thank you, Mr. Amess, and your fellow Chairmen, for the way that you chaired the Committee, allowing constructive but well-structured debate. I thank the Clerk for his assistance, which is particularly valued by Opposition Members, in tabling and putting in order amendments, and I also thank the staff of the House, the police and others who served the Committee.

Norman Lamb: I add my thanks to you and your co-Chairmen, Mr. Amess, and to the members of the Committee. This is the first major Bill that I have dealt with since the election. I enjoyed the experience and found it constructive and fascinating. I also wish to thank the Clerk and the other staff involved.

The Chairman: I am totally unworthy of any bouquets, since most of the chairing was done by Mr. Joe Benton. On behalf of Mr. Benton and Mr. Derek Conway, I thank hon. Members for their generous remarks.

This has been a model Committee, and hon. Members have entirely fulfilled their duty to scrutinise the legislation. I join other hon. Members in thanking all those who have assisted with the proceedings. In particular, I thank our Clerk, who was borrowed from and will be returning to the Journal Office. We are grateful for his help and support.

Bill, as amended, to be reported, pursuant to the Order of the House [28 June 2001].

Committee rose at twenty-nine minutes to Twelve o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Amess, Mr. David (Chairman)
Hammond, Mr.
Hendry, Mr.
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Humble, Mrs.
Johnson, Alan
Lamb, Norman
Laxton, Mr.
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Pearson, Mr.
Prisk, Mr.
Simmonds, Mr.
Tami, Mark
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel

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Prepared 24 January 2002