Minimum rates of pay
Generally, the amount of pay you receive for working is a matter for agreement between you and your employer. These negotiations normally occur when you receive an offer of a job. However, under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, most employees are entitled to a minimum wage. There are sub-minimum rates for some people such as people aged under 18 - see 'Rates' section below.
There are other minimum rates of pay for employees in certain sectors. In some sectors they are set out in Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) made by Joint Labour Committees. You can find out more in our document, Employment agreements and orders.
National minimum wage
Since 1 January 2019, under the National Minimum Wage Order 2018, the national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.80 per hour. An experienced adult employee for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act is an employee who has an employment of any kind in any 2 years over the age of 18 - see also 'Rates' section below. You can read this list of frequently asked questions on the national minimum wage.
The national minimum wage does not stop an employer from offering a higher wage.
Calculating the hourly rate
Under Section 20 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, the basic method of calculation is to divide the gross pay by the total number of hours worked. To begin with, however, it is necessary to note what pay is taken into account, what hours are included as working hours and what is the pay reference period (over what period the calculation is made).
What does not count as pay?
The following items are not to be included in the minimum wage calculation:
- Overtime premium
- Call-out premium
- Service pay
- Unsocial hours premium
- Tips which are placed in a central fund managed by the employer and paid as part of your wages
- Premiums for working public holidays, Saturdays or Sundays
- Allowances for special or additional duties
- On-call or standby allowances
- Certain payments in relation to absences from work, for example, sick pay, holiday pay or pay during health and safety leave
- Payment connected with leaving the employment including retirement
- Contributions paid by the employer into any occupational pension scheme available to you
- Redundancy payments
- An advance payment of, for example, salary: the amount involved will be taken into account for the period in which it would normally have been paid
- Payment in kind or benefit in kind, other than board and/or lodgings
- Payment not connected with the person's employment
- Compensation for injury or loss of tools
- Award as part of a staff suggestion scheme
- Loan by the employer to you
What counts as pay?
For the purposes of the national minimum wage your gross wage includes, for example, the basic salary and any shift premium, bonus or service charge.
If you receive food (known as board) or accommodation (known as lodgings) from your employer, the following amounts are included in the minimum wage calculation:
- €0.87 per hour worked for board only (calculation at hourly rate)
- €23.15 for lodgings only per week, or €3.32 per day
You can read more in the report Recommendations of the Low Pay Commission for the National Minimum Wage 2018 (pdf). The Commission recommends that the allowances be reviewed annually in conjunction with the review of the national minimum wage.
Your working hours are whichever is the greater:
- The hours set out in any document such as a contract of employment, collective agreement or statement of terms of employment provided under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994,
- The actual hours worked or available for work and paid
"Working hours" include:
- Travel time where this is part of the job
- Time spent on training authorised by the employer and during normal working hours
"Working hours" does not include:
- Time spent on standby other than at the workplace
- Time on leave, lay-off, strike or after payment in lieu of notice
- Time spent travelling to or from work
Pay reference period
The employer selects the period, known as the pay reference period, from which the average hourly pay will be calculated. This might be, for example, on a weekly or fortnightly basis, but cannot be for a period longer than a month.
The employer must include details of the pay reference period in the statement of employment conditions to be given to an employee under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994.
You can request a written statement from your employer of your average rate of pay for any pay reference period within the last 12 months. The employer has 4 weeks to supply the statement.
Exceptions to those entitled to receive the national minimum wage
There are some exceptions to those entitled to receive the national minimum wage. The legislation does not apply to a person employed by a close relative (for example, a spouse, civil partner or parent) or to people in statutory apprenticeships. Also some employees such as young people under 18 and trainees are only guaranteed a reduced or sub-minimum rate of the national minimum wage.
Under the National Minimum Wage Act young people and those in the first 2 years of employment can be paid lower rates – called sub-minimum rates. See ‘Sub-minimum rates’ below for examples of how these rates are applied depending on age and experience.
The National Minimum Wage Act also provides sub-minimum rates which apply to employees who are aged over 18 and undergoing a course of structured training or directed study that is authorised or approved of by the employer - see 'Rates' below
The Act provides certain criteria which the training course must meet if the trainee rates are to apply. For example, the training or study must be for the purposes of improving the work performance of the employee; the employee's participation on the training or study must be directed or approved by the employer; at least 10% of the training must occur away from the employee’s ordinary operational duties; there must be an assessment and certification procedure or written confirmation on the completion of the training course.
Exemption for employer
If an employer cannot afford to pay the national minimum wage due to financial difficulty the Labour Court may exempt an employer from paying the minimum wage rate for between 3 months and one year. Only one such exemption can be allowed.
The employer must apply to the Labour Court for the exemption with the consent of a majority of the employees, who must also agree to be bound by the Labour Court decision.
The employer must demonstrate that they are unable to pay the national minimum wage and that, if compelled to do so, would have to lay-off employees or terminate their employment.
An exemption may only be sought from paying the full rate of the national minimum wage, not for cases covered by the reduced rate, for example, employees who are under 18 years of age.
If you seek your entitlement to the national minimum wage you are protected from victimisation or dismissal. Victimisation is prohibited by the legislation. In addition, if you are dismissed for seeking the national minimum wage, you may bring a claim for unfair dismissal regardless of length of service or number of hours worked per week.
If you are due an increase under the National Minimum Wage Act, your employer cannot reduce your working hours without a corresponding reduction in duties or the amount of work.
The national minimum wage for experienced adult employees and the sub-minimum rates for young people and certain trainees are:
|Minimum hourly rate of pay||% of minimum wage|
|Experienced adult worker||€9.80||100%|
|Aged under 18||€6.86||70%|
|First year from date of first employment aged over 18||€7.84||80%|
|Second year from date of first employment aged over 18||€8.82||90%|
|Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours|
|1st one-third period||€7.35||75%|
|2nd one-third period||€7.84||80%|
|3rd one-third period||€8.82||90%|
Note: each one-third period must be at least one month and no more than one year.
Example 1: John was aged 17 when he started work on 1 January 2015 so he was entitled to 70% of the minimum wage. His 18th birthday was on 1 April 2015 and after that he was entitled to 80% of the minimum wage as he was in his first year of employment after the age of 18. From 1 April 2016, he was entitled to 90% of the minimum wage as he was in his second year of employment since the age of 18. After 1 April 2017 he is entitled to the full minimum wage rate as he is an experienced adult worker for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act. (That is, he is not in the first 2 years after the date of first employment over age 18). You can find a definition of an experienced adult worker in this list of frequently asked questions on the national minimum wage.
Example 2: Mary worked for 6 months when she was 17. She went to college and, on 1 October 2015, at the age of 20 she started work. She was entitled to 80% of the minimum wage as she was in her first year of employment. On 1 June 2016 she turned 21 but her rate of pay did not increase as she was still in first year of employment after the age of 18. (Her 6-months’ work when aged 17 is not taken into account.) From 1 October 2016 she was entitled to 90% of the minimum wage as she was in her second year of employment. Mary changed job on 1 December 2016 but she was only entitled to 90% of the minimum wage as she continued to be in her second year of employment. She is not entitled to the full minimum wage rate until 1 October 2017. This is when her second year of employment ends.
You can read the current and previous minimum wage rates on workplacerelations.ie.
How to apply
If you are not receiving the national minimum wage, you can enforce your rights by completing the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. In the online complaint form you have 2 options:
You can request an inspector from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to investigate a claim that the national minimum wage is not being paid
You can refer a dispute to a WRC adjudicator. However this can only be done if you have asked your employer for a statement outlining the calculation of the average hourly pay. You must refer the dispute with 6 months of the supplying of the statement. (The time limit for referral may be extended to a maximum of 12 months.) Where the employer fails to provide the statement the time starts from the date at which the employer should have provided the statement, that is within 4 weeks of the request.
Note: Under the National Minimum Wage Act, you cannot refer a complaint to an adjudicator and an inspector in relation to the same dispute.
If you are alleging victimisation, you should request that the employer restore your employment conditions to their position before the victimisation. Where the employer fails to do this within 2 weeks of the request, you may refer the matter to the WRC adjudicator. This referral must take place within 6 months (which may be extended to a maximum of 12 months) of the alleged victimisation.
For further information on the national minimum wage contact Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service - see 'Where to apply' below.
Where to apply