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, most employees are entitled to a minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. Sub-minimum rates apply to some people, such as those aged under 18 (See the ‘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, the national minimum wage is €9.80 per hour, as set out in the National Minimum Wage Order 2018. Since 4 March 2019, wage rates are solely based on age. (See ‘Rates’ below.)
The national minimum wage does not stop an employer from offering a higher wage.
Calculating the hourly rate
The basic method of calculation is to divide the gross pay by the total number of hours worked, as set out in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 Section 20. However, it must be clear from the start what pay is taken into account, what hours are included as working hours and what period the calculation covers (the pay reference period, such as weekly or monthly pay).
What does not count as pay?
Do not include the following items in calculating the minimum wage:
- Overtime premium
- Call-out premium
- Service pay (tips paid directly to you)
- 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 you receive when absent from work, for example sick pay, holiday pay or pay during health and safety leave
- Payment connected with leaving the employment, including on 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 when you would normally have received it
- Payment in kind or benefit in kind, other than board or lodgings
- Payment not connected with your 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 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:
- For board only: €0.87 per hour worked (calculation at hourly rate)
- For lodgings only: €23.15 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 for board and lodging be reviewed annually along 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 do not include time spent on:
- Standby other than at the workplace
- Leave, lay-off, strike or after payment in lieu of notice
- 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 – for example, a week, fortnight or month (but no longer than a month).
The employer must include details of the pay reference period in the statement of employment conditions you receive under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994. You can ask your employer for a written statement of your average rate of pay for any pay reference period within the last 12 months. The employer has 4 weeks to give you the statement.
People who are not entitled to receive the national minimum wage
You are not entitled to receive the national minimum wage if you are:
- Employed by a close relative (for example, a spouse, civil partner or parent), or
- In a statutory apprenticeship, or
- Under 18 – as the National Minimum Wage Act only guarantees you a reduced or sub-minimum rate of the national minimum wage (see ‘Rates’ below)
Exemption for employer
If an employer cannot afford to pay the national minimum wage due to financial difficulty, the Labour Court may exempt them from paying the minimum wage rate for between three months and one year. Only one such exemption can be allowed.
The employer must apply to the Labour Court for the exemption and must have the consent of a majority of the employees. The employer and the employees must all 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 they were compelled to do so, they would have to lay off or dismiss employees.
Employers may only seek exemption from paying the full rate of the national minimum wage. They cannot be exempt from paying the reduced rate (for example, to employees under 18).
If you ask your employer to pay the national minimum wage you are entitled to, you are protected by law from victimisation or dismissal. In addition, if you are dismissed for seeking the national minimum wage, you may bring a claim for unfair dismissal. You can do this 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 may attempt to cut your working hours to avoid an increase in the overall wage bill. However, they cannot do this without also reducing your duties or the amount of work.
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 abolishes training rates and simplifies sub-minimum rates based solely on age from 4 March 2019, as shown below.
|Minimum hourly rate of pay, €||% of minimum wage|
|National minimum wage||9.80||100|
|Aged under 18||6.86||70|
|Since 4 March 2019 trainee rates are abolished.|
|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|
You can read the current and previous minimum wage rates on workplacerelations.ie.
How to make a complaint
- You can request an investigation by an inspector from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The inspector will look into your claim that the national minimum wage is not being paid.
- You can refer a dispute to a WRC adjudicator. However, you can do this only after asking your employer for a statement outlining the calculation of the average hourly pay. You must refer the dispute within 6 months of receiving the statement. If necessary, the time limit for referral may be extended to a maximum of 12 months. Where the employer fails to give you the statement, the time starts from the date when they should have done so (that is, within four weeks of the request).
Note: Under the National Minimum Wage Act, you cannot refer a complaint about the same dispute to both an adjudicator and an inspector.
If you are alleging victimisation, you should ask your employer to restore your employment conditions to how they were before the victimisation. Where the employer fails to do this within two weeks of the request, you may refer the matter to the WRC adjudicator. You must make this referral within 6 months of the alleged victimisation (which may be extended to a maximum of 12 months).
For further information on the national minimum wage, contact the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service. (See ‘Where to complain’ below.)
Where to complain