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 those 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. In other sectors they are set out in Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) made by collective agreements. You can find out details of Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements.
Since 1 July 2011, under SI 331/2011, the national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €8.65 per hour (was €7.65). 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.
The Low Pay Commission has recommended that the national minimum wage be increased to €9.15 per hour.
Of course the national minimum wage (NMW) does not stop an employer from offering a higher wage.
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).
There are a number of items that are not to be included in the minimum wage calculation, these are:
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) and/or accommodation (known as lodgings) from your employer, the following amounts are included in the minimum wage calculation:
Your working hours are whichever is the greater:
"Working hours" include:
"Working hours" does not include:
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 may 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.
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) nor does it apply to those 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.
Since 1 July 2011 the National Minimum Wage Act provides the following sub-minimum rates, see also 'Rates' below:
The National Minimum Wage Act also provides sub-minimum rates which apply to employees who are over 18 and undergoing a course of structured training or directed study that is authorised or approved of by the employer.
Since 1 July 2011 the trainee rates provided by the Act are as follows, see also 'Rates' below:
Note: each one third period must be at least one month and no more than one year.
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.
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 he/she is 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 as follows:
|Minimum hourly rate of pay||% of minimum wage|
|Experienced adult worker||€8.65||100%|
|Aged under 18||€6.06||70%|
|First year from date of first employment aged over 18||€6.92||80%|
|Second year from date of first employment aged over 18||€7.79||90%|
|Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours|
|1st one third period||€6.49||75%|
|2nd one third period||€6.92||80%|
|3rd one third period||€7.79||90%|
If you are not receiving the national minimum wage, you may enforce your rights by completing the new online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on workplacerelations.ie). In the online complaint form you have 2 options:
You may either request an inspector from the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) to investigate a claim that the national minimum wage is not being paid
You may refer a dispute to a Rights Commissioner. However this may only be done where you have requested from the employer 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 limit 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: you may not refer a complaint to both a Rights Commissioner and a NERA inspector in relation to the same dispute under the Minimum Wage Act.
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 Rights Commissioner. 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 see the detailed guide to the Minimum Wage Act 2000 (pdf) or contact Workplace Relations Customer Services - see 'Where to apply' below.
Information and Customer Services
Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.