Glossary of employment terms

Glossary of employment terms

Term Definition
Adoptive leave Adoptive leave is leave from work for one parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone after the adoption of a child.
Agency worker Someone who is employed by an agency to work for another person or company.
Annual leave Annual leave is paid time off work for holidays, rest or recreation.
Benefit-in-kind A term used by Revenue to refer to a taxable non-cash payment to an employee, for example, the use of a car.
Breaks Short periods of time for rest and refreshment taken during working hours.
Bullying In the workplace bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour by one or more people against another person or people.
Career break An unpaid period of time away from your employment which can be for family reasons or study, which is approved by your employer.
Carer’s leave Carer’s leave is leave from work to care for someone who is deemed by the Department of Social Protection as being in need of full-time care and attention.
Casual worker A person employed as required without fixed hours or attendance arrangements.
Code of practice A code of practice sets out good practice in employment but is not usually legally binding
Collective agreements Agreements negotiated between unions and employers about terms and conditions of employment.
Common law Law derived from custom and court decisions, rather than legislation.
Comparator A comparator means a comparable employee who is doing the same or similar work as a part-time worker or someone on a fixed-term contract.
Contract of employment A contract of employment exists if someone is offered work in return for wages and accepts the offer – see also written terms of employment.
Constructive dismissal Constructive dismissal is when you terminate your contract of employment because of your employer’s behaviour.
Continuity of employment or service This means the employee’s service or employment is unbroken and can help you qualify for certain employment rights such as redundancy.
Critical Skills Employment Permit

A Critical Skills Employment Permit is an employment permit for occupations with an annual salary above €64,000 and for some occupations with an annual salary of €32,000 to €64,000.

Custom and practice A term of employment set by normal behaviour in a workplace rather than by legislation or a written contract. One example is an informal ten-minute coffee break at 11am.
Deductions Deductions are amounts taken off your pay and listed on your payslip, for example, PRSI.
Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit A dependant (other than a spouse or de facto partner) of a Critical Skills Employment Permits holder, or a researcher on a Hosting Agreement can apply for a Dependant/Spouse/Partner Employment Permit.
Disciplinary procedure Sets out in writing how the employer will deal with the alleged shortcomings of an employee.
Discrimination Treating one person less favourably than another person. Discrimination at work is illegal if it is based on gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, membership of the Traveller community.
Dismissal This occurs when your contract of employment is ended. If you are dismissed by your employer you may be able to claim unfair dismissal.
Domestic worker A domestic worker is someone who is employed to work in a private home.
Duty of care Your employer owes you a duty of care to provide a safe workplace and this is implied by law in your contract of employment. It means that you should not have to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Employee An employee is someone works for someone else in return for payment. There is no definition of 'employee' in employment law. The Code of Practice in determining Employment Status (pdf) contains criteria which can be used to clarify whether a person is employed or self-employed. The employment status of a person is generally determined by Revenue or the Department of Social Protection.
Employment Detail Summary (Formerly P60) An Employment Detail Summary is available to you through Revenue’s myAccount service. It contains details of your pay as well as the income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC) that has been deducted by your employer and paid to Revenue.
Employment permit Most non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit in order to take up employment in Ireland.
Employment Regulation Order (ERO) EROs are negotiated by Joint Labour Committees to regulate conditions of employment and pay in certain employment sectors.
Fixed-term contract A fixed-term contract is a contract of employment which ends on an agreed date.
Force majeure leave Leave from work for an employee for urgent reasons because of the illness or injury of a family member.
Freedom of information (FOI) FOI legislation allows you to access records held by government departments and certain public bodies.
General Employment Permit

A General Employment Permit is a type of employment permit for certain occupations with a minimum annual salary of €30,000 and for a few jobs with salaries below €30,000.

Grievance procedure This sets out how to complain about something in your employment terms and conditions which affects you.
Gross misconduct Blatant misbehaviour at work such as assault, stealing, bullying or harassment.
Harassment Under employment equality legislation harassment on any of the 9 discriminatory grounds is illegal. It is defined as behaviour “which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person”.
Holiday A holiday is paid time off work for rest and recreation. It can mean either annual leave or a public holiday.

A type of flexible work where two people share the same employment position.

Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) JLCs regulate conditions of employment in certain employment sectors. Their agreements are called Employment Regulation Orders (EROs).
Labour market needs test This is a requirement for most General Employment Permit applications. It means advertising a vacancy with the EURES employment network for 4 weeks and in local and national newspapers for 3 days.
Lay off Lay off is when you are let go from your job temporarily as your employer has no work for you.

Permission to be absent from work. Under employment rights legislation there are statutory entitlements to annual leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, paternity leave, parents leave and carer's leave.

Maternity leave Maternity leave is leave from work for a woman who is pregnant or who has just given birth.
Migrant worker Someone who is not a national of the country where they are working.
Minimum wage This is a minimum hourly rate of pay. Most employees have a legal right to the national minimum wage (NMW).
Night work Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 night work means work done between midnight and 7am.
Notice Notice is an announcement by the employee or employer that the employment contract will end on a certain date.
Open-ended contract This is a contract of employment which continues until the employer or employee ends it. It is known as a contract of indefinite duration. This is what employees often refer to as a permanent job.
Overtime Overtime is work done outside normal working hours.
Parental leave Parental leave is leave from work for parents of children aged under 12 (16 if the child has a disability).
Parent's leave Each parent is entitled to 5 weeks paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. It aims to let working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child during the first 2 years.
Part-time worker An employee whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of work of a comparable full-time employee.
Paternity leave Paternity leave is leave from work for a parent (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) following the birth or adoption of a child. There is a statutory entitlement to paternity leave in respect of births or adoptions that occur on or after 1 September 2016.
PAYE PAYE (Pay As You Earn) is the system where tax is deducted from your wages by your employer and sent to the Revenue Commissioners.
Pension A pension is a payment from the State or a private company to someone who is retired.
PPS Number Your PPS (Personal Public Service) Number is your unique reference number for all dealings with Government departments and other public bodies such as the Revenue Commissioners.
Probationary period A specified period at the start of an employment to see if the employee is suitable for the job.
PRSA PRSAs (Personal Retirement Savings Accounts) are a type of pension arrangement.
PRSI PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) means the social insurance contributions deducted from your wages. Your PRSI contributions help you to qualify for social welfare payments such as Illness Benefit.
Public holidays

There are 9 public holidays each year, for example, Christmas Day. The statutory public holiday entitlement for employees is: either a paid day off, an extra day of annual leave or a day's pay.

Redundancy Redundancy is when your job ceases to exist because of lack of work or your company closing down.
Registered Employment Agreement (REA) REAs set out pay and conditions of employment in certain employment sectors. They are collective agreements which have been registered with the Labour Court.
Rest period A rest period is any time that is not working time.
Self-employed A self-employed person is someone who carries on their own business and is not an employee.
Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) An SEO is made following a recommendation from the Labour Court on matters of pay, pension or sick pay scheme for workers in an economic sector.
Sexual harassment Unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that affects the dignity of women and men at work – see also harassment.
Short time This is where your pay or hours reduced to less than half your normal weekly amount because there is less work to be done.
Specified purpose contract A contract of employment which ends when a specific task is completed, or when a specific event occurs.
Statutory entitlement Legal right governed by law.
Trade union A trade union is an organisation which negotiates with an employer for better pay and conditions.
Transfer of business (TUPE) A transfer of business happens when a company is taken over by another or when two companies join together.
Unfair dismissal If your employer terminates your contract of employment, your dismissal is presumed to be unfair unless your employer can justify it on fair grounds.
Victimisation Victimisation or penalisation is unfair treatment of an employee by an employer because of some action the worker has taken, such as claiming the minimum wage.
Wages Wages are the money paid to you by your employer for your work. This money is also known as pay, salary or remuneration. Sometimes other benefits can be included to make up your wages, for example board and lodging, if supplied by your employer and are part of your employment contract.
Working hours This means the time when you are working. For most employees the legal maximum average working week is 48 hours.
Written terms of employment Although your contract of employment does not have to be written, you have a legal right to a written statement of certain employment terms.
Zero-hours contract A zero-hours contract is a type of employment contract where the employee makes themselves available for work for a specified number of hours and get paid for a proportion of those hours even if not required to work.
Page edited: 27 July 2021