Employees' rights and entitlements

Introduction

Employees have a number of legal employment rights and protections in Ireland. This document provides a summary of these rights and entitlements, which are governed by employment legislation.

An employee is a person engaged under a contract of service. If you have this type of contract you are protected by the full range of employment legislation.

A contract for services is generally used when engaging an independent contractor or self-employed person for a job. If you have this type of contract you may not have the same rights as an employee under employment protection legislation. You can find more information in our documents on different types of employment, self-employment and contracts of employment.

Minimum wage

The national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.55 per hour. A person who is over 18 with at least 2 years' work experience is considered an experienced adult employee. Lower minimum hourly rates may apply to some people who are younger or have less experience, for example, someone aged under 18 may get paid less than the national minimum wage. You can read more in our document on Minimum rates of pay.

Some minimum rates of pay are set for particular industries or sectors in Employment Regulation Orders, Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment Orders. You can read more in our document on Employment agreements and orders.

Maximum working week

In general, your maximum average working week cannot exceed 48 hours. This does not mean that your working week can never exceed 48 hours; but the average weekly hours over a 4-month period should not exceed 48 hours. There are some exceptions to this, which you can read about in our document on the working week.

Statement of terms and conditions

If you work for an employer for a regular wage or salary, you automatically have a contract of employment. You must be given a written statement of your terms of employment within 2 months of starting work. Read more about what terms should be included in a contract of employment.

Statement of pay

You must be given a written statement of pay or a pay slip with every payment of wages. A pay slip will show your gross wage and details of all deductions. Your employer cannot make deductions from your wages without your permission, unless these deductions are authorised by law, for example, PAYE, PRSI and USC. You can read more in our document on pay slips.

Breaks during working hours

You are entitled to take breaks while you are at work and have rest periods between working days or nights. You are entitled to a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period and one period of 24 hours' rest per week, preceded by the 11-hour daily period.

In general, you are entitled to a 15 minute break when you have worked for 4 ½ hours. If you work more than 6 hours you are entitled to a 30 minute break, which can include the first 15-minute break. You do not have to be paid for these breaks and they are not considered to be working time.

Special rules apply to shop employees who work more than 6 hours and whose hours of work include the period 11.30am and 2.30pm. These employees are entitled to a one-hour consecutive break, which must occur between 11.30am and 2.30pm. You can read more in our document on rest periods and breaks.

Leave from work

Annual leave

Most employees are entitled to 4 weeks’ paid annual leave per leave year. However, your contract of employment may give you more annual leave than the statutory entitlement. Your annual leave can be calculated in a number of different ways. You can read more in our document on annual leave and in our case study on calculating annual leave.

Public holidays

All full-time employees are entitled to 9 public holidays. To qualify for part-time, employees must work at least 40 hours during the 5 weeks ending on the day before the public holiday.

If you have to work on a public holiday, you are entitled to one of the following in exchange (as decided by your employer):

  • A paid day off on the holiday
  • A paid day off within a month
  • An extra day’s annual leave
  • An extra day’s pay

If the public holiday falls on a day that you do not normally work, you are entitled to one-fifth of your normal weekly wage for the day.

You are also entitled to certain statutory protective leave, such as maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoptive leave, and carer’s leave.

There are specific rules for each leave entitlement and you must follow the required notice periods, see below.

  • Maternity leave: If you become pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to take maternity leave of 26 weeks. Your contract of employment will state if your employer will pay you when you are on maternity leave (this is not a requirement). You may be entitled to Maternity Benefit, which is a social welfare payment. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave; this period is not covered by Maternity Benefit.
  • Paternity leave: New parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to 2 weeks' paternity leave from employment or self-employment following the birth or adoption of a child. Your contract of employment will state if your employer will pay you when you are on paternity leave (this is not a requirement). You may be eligible for Paternity Benefit, which is a social welfare payment.
  • Parental leave: Each parent is entitled to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave. You must take parental leave before the child is 8 years of age, or 16 years of age if the child has a disability. In general, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months to get parental leave.
  • Adoptive leave: An adopting mother or sole male adopter is entitled to 24 weeks' adoptive leave, beginning on the day the child is placed with them. There is no obligation on employers to pay an employee for adoptive leave. You may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit, which is a social welfare payment. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks' additional unpaid adoptive leave, but this period is not covered by Adoptive Benefit.
  • Carer’s leave: You are allowed to take unpaid leave to provide full-time care and attention for a person in need of care. The minimum statutory entitlement is 13 weeks but an employee is entitled to a maximum of 104 weeks. Generally, 12 months of continuous service with your employer you will need in order to get carer’s leave. You may be eligible for Carer's Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify for Carer's Benefit, you may qualify for Carer's Allowance, which is a means-tested payment.

Equal treatment in the workplace

Equality in the workplace

You have the right to be treated equally regardless of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability, race, religious belief or membership of the Traveller community. Discrimination on any of these 9 specific grounds during the recruitment process or in the workplace is unlawful. You can read more in our document on equality in the workplace.

Safety in the workplace

Your employer is responsible, as far as is reasonably possible, for ensuring that you have a safe workplace. This includes protection from harassment, bullying and violence at work.

Privacy and data protection

You have enhanced privacy rights under data protection legislation. Employers have certain obligations and responsibilities in relation to how they collect, use and protect your personal data. You can read more in our document on data protection in the workplace. If your employer uses CCTV in the workplace or monitors your use of email, internet or the phone, you can find information about this in our document on surveillance in the workplace.

Part-time employees, zero-hour contracts and employment permits

If you are working part-time, have a zero-hour contract, or are working on an employment permit, you have certain employment rights.

Part-time employees

A part-time employee is someone who works fewer hours than a comparable full-time employee doing the same type of work. A part-time employee cannot be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee, unless the less favourable treatment is justified on objective grounds, such as pension entitlements. You can read more in our document on the rights of part-time workers.

If you are in full-time employment, you do not have a statutory right to change to part-time employment or to other flexible working. However, your employer should consider your request for part-time working.

Zero-hour contracts

A zero-hour contract of employment is a type of employment contract where the employee is available for work but does not have specified hours of work. Read more about zero-hour contracts and the proposed changes to these types of contracts in our document on zero contract hours.

Employment permits

Foreign nationals working legally in Ireland are entitled to the same range of statutory employment protections as Irish employees. Most non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit to work in Ireland.

Minimum notice periods

If you lose your job you have certain entitlements in relation to notice periods and pay for annual leave that you have earned but not taken.

If you are changing your job and handing in your notice, you should check what notice period requirements are in your contract of employment. You must follow the notice period in your contract of employment. If there is no notice period provision in your contract, you must follow the terms of Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005. This notice period requirement will depend on how long you have been working for your employer.

Redundancy and dismissal

Employees who are made redundant from their jobs also have certain entitlements. Redundancy generally arises where an employee’s job ceases to exist. You must have 2 years' continuous service and meet other criteria to qualify for a redundancy payment. Dismissal occurs when you lose your job but the position remains open and could be filled by someone else. Reasons for dismissal can be fair or unfair. Normally, you must have at least 12 months’ continuous service with your employer to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

How to complain

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) deals with employment disputes in Ireland. You should make your complaint to the WRC within 6 months of the alleged incident. This time limit can be extended by a further 6 months if there was reasonable cause for the delay.

Your complaints can be dealt with by mediation or adjudication. If both parties agree to mediation, a mediator will help you reach a mutually acceptable agreement. This method often prevents complaints from reaching a formal process. With adjudication there is a private hearing, and an Adjudication Officer will make a formal judgement on a disputed matter.

If you are unhappy with the WRC’s decision, you can appeal it to the Labour Court. In general, appeals should be made within 42 days, but this can be extended if exceptional circumstances caused the delay.

To complain to the WRC you should use the online complaint form at workplacerelations.ie.

Further information

The Workplace Relations Commission has published a Guide to Employment, Labour and Equality Law (pdf) and a booklet on Employment Law Explained (pdf).

You can get further information on employment protection legislation from the Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service.

Workplace Relations Commission - Conciliation and Mediation Services

Conciliation and Mediation Services
Lansdowne House
Lansdowne Road
Dublin 4
D04 A3A8

Tel:(01) 613 6700
Locall:1890 22 02 27
Fax:(01) 613 6701
Homepage: http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

Information and Customer Service
O'Brien Road
Carlow
R93 W7W2

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
Homepage: http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/

Page edited: 6 September 2018