Employees' rights and entitlements
Employees have a number of legal employment rights and protections in Ireland. Here we provide a summary of these rights and entitlements, which are governed by employment legislation.
Am I an employee?
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.
The term, contract for services, is generally used when an employer is 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 about different types of employment, self-employment and contracts of employment.
Our page on employment rights during the COVID-19 has the latest information on your rights as an employee during the COVID-19 emergency period.
You can read information about working from home during COVID-19.
The national minimum wage for an adult employee is €10.20 per hour since 1 January 2021. 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 exceed 48 hours. This does not mean you can never work more than 48 hours in a week, but that your average weekly hours over a 4-month period should not exceed 48. There are some exceptions to this, which you can read about in our page 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 5 core terms within 5 days of starting your job and you must be given the remaining terms of employment in writing within 2 months. 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 slipwith every payment of wages. A pay slip will show your gross wage and details of all deductions. Your employer must have your permission to make deductions from your wages, unless these deductions are authorised 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. 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 other words, your usual 11-hour break followed by a whole day off.
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. Your employer does not have to pay you for these breaks and they are not considered working time.
Special rules apply to shop employees. If you work in a shop for more than 6 hours a day, including the period 11.30am to 2.30pm, you are entitled to a one-hour consecutive break, which must occur between 11.30am and 2.30pm. You can read more about rest periods and breaks.
Right to disconnect
As well your right to take adequate breaks, you also have a right to disconnect from work outside of normal working hours.
The code of practice on the right to disconnect is effective since 1 April 2021 and applies to all employees, including people working from home. It provides guidance on an employee’s 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 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. Your annual leave can be calculated in a number of different ways. To calculate annual leave, see our case study.
All full-time employees are entitled to 9 public holidays each year. To qualify for pay or a paid day off on a public holiday, part-time employees must work at least 40 hours in total 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 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.
There are specific rules for each leave type of protective leave and you must comply with the required notice periods, as 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 will pay 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 will pay you when you are on paternity leave (this is not a requirement). You may be eligible for social welfare payment Paternity Benefit.
- Parental leave: Since 1 September 2020 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.
- Parents leave: Each parent is entitled to 5 weeks’ leave during the first two years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within two years of the placement of the child with the family. You may also qualify for a payment called Parent’s Benefit during parent’s leave.
- 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 have no obligation to pay an employee 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 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 and the maximum is 104 weeks. Generally, you need 12 months’ continuous service with your employer to get carer’s leave. If you have enough PRSI contributions, you may be eligible 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.
Equal treatment 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 about equality in the workplace.
Safety in the workplace
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
If you are working part-time, have a zero-hour contract, or are working on an employment permit, you have certain employment rights, see below.
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 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 arises where 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 2 years’ continuous service and meet other criteria.
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 make a complaint
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 a 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 the stage of a formal court hearing. 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, but this can be extended if exceptional circumstances cause a delay.
To complain to the Workplace Relations Commission, use its online complaint form.
The Workplace Relations Commission has published a Document 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.
Where to make a complaint