Employees' rights and entitlements
This page is a summary of the rights and protection you have as an employee under various employment legislation.
Am I an employee?
Contract of service
You are an employee if you are hired under a contract of service. If you have this type of contract, you are protected by employment legislation.
Contract for services
If you are hired under a contract for services, this means your employer is hiring you as 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 legislation.
You can find out more information about understanding your employment status.
The national minimum wage for an adult employee is €11.30 per hour since 1 January 2023. Lower minimum hourly rates may apply if you are younger. For example, a person aged under 20 may get paid less than the national minimum wage. You can read more in Minimum rates of pay.
Some minimum rates of pay are set for particular industries or sectors in Employment Regulation Orders (EROs), Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment Orders. You can read more about Employment agreements and orders.
Maximum working week
In general, your maximum average working week cannot be more than 48 hours. This doesn't mean you can't work more than 48 hours in a week, but that your average weekly hours over 4 months should not exceed 48.
There are some exceptions to this, which you can read about in our page on the working week.
Contracts and payslips
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 core terms within 5 days of starting your job and you must be given the remaining terms of employment in writing within one month.
Read more about what terms should be included in a contract of employment.
You must be given a pay slip every time you are paid your wages. A pay slip will show your gross wage (that means your total earnings before tax) and details of all deductions.
Your employer must have your permission to make deductions from your wages, unless these deductions are covered by law (for example, PAYE, PRSI and USC).
Breaks during working hours
You are entitled to take breaks while you are at work and have rest periods between working days or nights.
Special rules apply to shop employees.
You can read more about work breaks and rest periods.
Breaks in work
You have a right to:
- A 15-minute break when you have worked more than 4 and a half hours
- A 30-minute break when you have worked more than 6 hours, which can include the first 15-minute break.
Daily rest period
You are entitled to a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period.
Weekly rest period
You are entitled to one period of 24 hour's rest per week, following a daily rest period (of 11 consecutive hours).
Right to disconnect
As well your right to take breaks, you also have a right to disconnect from work outside of normal working hours. This also applies to people working from home.
This is outlined in the code of practice on the right to disconnect. It gives guidance on your right to disengage from work outside normal working hours.
While failure to follow the code is not an offence, it can be used as evidence in a case taken to the Labour Court or Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) under employment legislation.
Leave from work
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. There are 3 ways to calculate your annual leave.
All full-time employees are entitled to 10 public holidays each year.
To qualify for pay on a public holiday or a paid day off, part-time employees must have worked at least 40 hours in total during the 5 weeks ending on the day before the public holiday.
If you must work on a public holiday, you are entitled to one of the following (decided by your employer):
- A paid day off on the public holiday
- A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
- An extra day’s annual leave
- An extra day’s pay
If you work part-time and 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 have a right to 3 days paid sick leave a year. This is called statutory sick pay (that means the legal minimum).
Sick pay is paid by your employer at 70% of your normal pay up to a maximum of €110 a day.
To qualify for statutory sick pay you must:
- Be an employee
- Have worked for your employer for at least 13 continuous weeks before you are sick
- Be certified by a GP as unable to work
You are entitled to certain statutory protective leave.
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Parental leave
- Parents leave
- Adoptive leave
- Carer’s leave
- Leave for medical care
- Health and safety leave
- Domestic violence leave
There are specific rules for each type of protective leave and you must follow the required notice periods, as outlined below.
- Maternity leave: You are entitled to take 26 weeks maternity leave from work while you are having a baby. Your contract of employment will state if your employer pays you when you are on maternity leave (this is not a requirement). You may be entitled to Maternity Benefit. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave, which is not covered by Maternity Benefit.
- Paternity leave: New parents (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) 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 pays you when you are on paternity leave (this is not a requirement). You may be eligible for Paternity Benefit.
- Parental leave: Each parent is entitled to 26 weeks’ unpaid parental leave. You must take parental leave before the child is 12 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 be entitled to parental leave.
- Parent's leave: Each parent is entitled to 7 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family. You may also qualify for Parent’s Benefit during parent’s leave. Budget 2024 - It was announced in Budget 2024 that Parent’s leave will be extended by 2 weeks to 9 weeks from August 2024.
- Adoptive leave: One parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone is entitled to 24 weeks’ adoptive leave, beginning on the day the child is placed with them. Employers do not have to pay you for adoptive leave. You may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks’ additional unpaid adoptive leave, but this is not covered by Adoptive Benefit.
- Carer’s leave: You can take unpaid leave to provide full-time care and attention for a person in need. The minimum statutory entitlement is 13 weeks, and the maximum is 104 weeks. Generally, you need to be working continuously with your employer for 12 months’ to get carer’s leave. If you have enough PRSI contributions, you may qualify for Carer’s Benefit. If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for a means-tested payment called Carer’s Allowance.
- Leave for medical care: You can take 5 days unpaid leave in any 12 consecutive months if you need to take time off work to deal with serious medical care for a child or other relevant person. You don’t need any minimum service with your employer and you don’t have to give them notice to take the leave in emergency circumstances.
- Health and safety leave: You can get health and safety leave if your employer can’t remove a risk to your health while you are pregnant, or breastfeeding, or they are unable to assign you alternative "risk-free" duties. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria and social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions. Your employer pays your normal wage for the first 21 days of leave and the Department of Social Protection pays the remainder.
- Domestic violence leave: You have a legal right to 5 days’ paid domestic violence leave if you need to take time off work if you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse. There is no minimum service required to qualify. The leave can be taken if you are directly experiencing domestic violence and abuse, or if you are supporting a ‘relevant person’.
Equal treatment in the workplace
You have the right to be treated equally regardless of:
- Civil status
- Family status
- Sexual orientation
- Religious belief, or
- Membership of the Traveller community
Discrimination on any of these nine specific grounds during the recruitment process or in the workplace is unlawful. You can read more about 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:
Privacy and data protection
You have enhanced privacy rights under data protection legislation (GDPR). Employers have certain obligations and responsibilities in relation to how they collect, use, and protect your personal data. You can read more about 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 surveillance in the workplace.
Part-time employees, zero-hour contracts and employment permits
You have certain employment rights if you are:
- Working part-time
- Have a zero-hour contract, or
- Are working on an employment permit
A part-time employee is someone who works fewer hours than a comparable full-time employee doing the same type of work.
If you work part-time, you can't be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee unless it is justified, such as pension entitlements.
You can read more about 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 patterns. However, if you would prefer to work part-time, your employer should consider your request.
A zero-hours contract of employment is a type of employment contract where you are available for work but do not have specified hours of work. Zero-hours contracts are prohibited in most cases, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
Foreign nationals working legally in Ireland are entitled to the same range of statutory employment protections as Irish employees. To work in Ireland, most non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit.
Minimum notice periods
You have certain entitlements if you lose your job. These relate to notice periods and pay for annual leave that you have earned but have not taken.
If you are leaving your job, you must comply with the notice periods in your contract of employment. If your contract does not state a notice period, you must follow the terms of the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005. The requirement will depend on how long you have been working for your employer.
Redundancy and dismissal
Redundancy generally happens when your job ceases to exist. Employees who are made redundant from their jobs have certain entitlements.
To qualify for a statutory redundancy payment, you must have been working for your employer for 2 consecutive years and meet other criteria.
Dismissal occurs when you lose your job, but the position remains open and could be filled by someone else.
Making a complaint
If you have a complaint about your employment rights, you should:
- Speak to your employer directly and try to sort the issue informally.
- If this doesn't work, you can make a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) using its online complaint form.
Depending on your complaint, you may have to take ‘pre-complaint steps’, such as gathering supporting documents and sending them to the WRC as part of the complaint.
For example, if you are making a complaint under the National Minimum Wage Act, you need to request a ‘statement of earnings’ from your employer before making your complaint to the WRC.
You should make your complaint to the WRC within 6 months of the alleged incident (dispute). This time limit can be extended by a further 6 months if there was a reasonable cause for the delay.
Your complaint can be dealt with by mediation or adjudication.
Mediation: If both parties agree to mediation, a mediator will help you reach a mutually acceptable agreement. This method often prevents complaints from reaching the stage of a formal court hearing.
Adjudication: With adjudication, there is a public hearing, and an adjudication officer will make a formal judgment.
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. If you do not appeal the decision within 42 days, it becomes legally binding and can be enforced through the District Court.
You can read detailed information about making a complaint to the WRC (pdf).
More information about your employment rights
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 more information on employment protection legislation from the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service.