Employers' group Ibec has expressed concerns about proposals to introduce legislation to outlaw zero hours working contracts.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night told an Ibec gathering that the Government would outlaw zero hour contracts and prioritise the legislation to do so during this Dáil term.

Ibec Director of Employer Relations Maeve McElwee said such legislation would lead to significant costs and administration for all employers .

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said it was "disproportionate" legislation that would impact all employers. 

She said employers are asking for a regulatory impact assessment to be carried out before any legislation is implemented to consider the "significant" economic cost it would have on employers. 

While she accepted less than 2% of employees were working in low or zero hour contracts which may be "precarious", she said some of the workers were also working by choice on well paid, low hours contracts.

She said this included 20,000 workers across the health and education sectors.

Ms McElwee said the vast majority of employers look after their employees and treat them with dignity. 

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has rejected Ibec criticism of the plans to tackle zero hour contracts and precarious work. 

Ictu General Secretary Patricia King said:"While the proposed bill has not yet been published and will undoubtedly require further amendment, the overall legislative intent is positive."

"Left unchallenged, precarious work practices and zero hour contracts create downward pressure on employment standards across the economy and create intolerable uncertainty over hours and earnings for thousands of workers," said Ms King. 

"As employers are already required by law to keep working time records there is nothing in these proposals that would result in any new or additional administrative or regulatory burden, for them," she said. 

"Ultimately, the only beneficiaries from increased casualisation in the workforce are bad and exploitative employers. Good employers have nothing to fear from these proposals."