Employment laws in Ireland

Introduction

This page outlines some of the main pieces of employment legislation in Ireland. You can find the full Acts and Statutory Instruments on irishstatutebook.ie and oireachtas.ie.

Information about your job

The Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994–2014 says employers must give employees certain information about their employment, such as a contract of employment, a job description, rate of pay and hours of work.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018 gives you much more control over your personal data. It also sets out the responsibilities of companies who control and process your data.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 bans zero-hour contracts in most situations. It also provides for minimum payments and banded hours. The Act states that employers must give employees information on the 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of them starting work.

Young people at work

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 regulates the employment and working conditions of children and young people. You can read more about the rights of young workers.

Terms and conditions of employment

The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 provides for the national minimum wage.

The Payment of Wages Act 1991 gives employees the right to a pay slip showing their gross wages (total pay before deductions) and details of any deductions.

The Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005 set out the amount of notice you are entitled to before the termination of employment.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 provides a framework for workers looking to improve their terms and conditions of employment, where collective bargaining is not recognised by their employer The Act also provides for Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) and Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs).

Working hours, annual leave and holiday leave

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 covers a number of employment conditions, including maximum working hours, night work, annual leave and public holiday leave.

The Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001 require employers to keep records of:

  • The number of hours employees work on a daily and weekly basis
  • The amount of leave granted to employees in each week as annual leave or as public holidays
  • Details of the payments in respect of this leave
  • Employees’ starting and finishing times.

Statutory leave

Statutory leave is the minimum amount of paid leave from work that you are legally entitled to. There are different types of statutory leave, including:

Maternity leave

The Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 provides for paid time off work for ante-natal classes, additional maternity leave, and breastfeeding .

The Maternity Protection Act 1994 covers maternity leave, the right to return to work after maternity leave, as well as health and safety during and immediately after pregnancy.

Paternity leave

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 provides for statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks. This must be taken in the first 6 months following the birth or adoption of a child.

Adoptive leave

The Adoptive Leave Act 2005 amends the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 which provides for adoptive leave from employment and the right to return to work following such leave.

The Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 allows adoptive couples to choose who should take adoptive leave and benefit. The parent who does not get adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave.

Parental leave

The Parental Leave Acts 1998 -2019 provide for a period of unpaid parental leave for parents to care for their children. The Acts also provide for a limited right to paid leave in circumstances of serious family illness (known as ‘force majeure’).

Parent’s leave

The Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 amends the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 and provides for 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.

Carer’s leave

The Carer's Leave Act 2001 gives employee’s the right to take temporary unpaid carer's leave so they can care for someone who needs full-time care and attention.

Safety at work

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (as amended) replaced the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1989. It consolidates and updates the existing health and safety law. Changes include the provision for higher fines for breaches of safety legislation.

Equality in the workplace

The Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015 ban discrimination in a range areas, including gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community. The Acts also place an obligation on employers to prevent harassment in the workplace.

The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 makes significant amendments to the Employment Equality Act 1998 in the areas of:

  • Retirement and age discrimination
  • Discrimination by religious, medical and educational institutions on religious grounds
  • Indirect discrimination

Part-time, fixed-term, agency, and self-employed workers

Part-time employees

The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 prevents discrimination against part-time workers. It aims to improve the quality of part-time work, to facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis and to contribute to the flexible organisation of working time that takes account of the needs of employers and workers. It guarantees that part-time workers are not treated less favourably than full-time workers.

Fixed term employees

The Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003 protects fixed-term employees by ensuring they cannot be treated less favourably than comparable permanent workers, and that employers cannot continually renew fixed term contracts. Under the Act, employees can only work on one or more fixed term contracts for a continuous period of 4 years. After this, the employee is considered to have a contract of indefinite duration (e.g. a permanent contract).

Agency workers

The Protection of Employment (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 provides that all temporary agency workers must be treated equally (as if they had been directly recruited by the hirer) in respect of the duration of working time, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays and pay.

Self-employment

The Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self-employment Status of Individuals 2021(pdf) provides criteria which can be used to clarify whether a person is employed or self-employed.

Whistleblowing

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 protects employees from penalisation if they make a disclosure about wrongdoing in the workplace.

Business take-overs

The European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 apply to any transfer of an undertaking, business or part of a business from one employer to another employer, as a result of a legal transfer (including the assignment or forfeiture of a lease) or merger. Employees’ rights and entitlements are protected during this transfer.

The Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006 established minimum requirements for employees' right to information and consultation about the development of their employment's structure and activities during a transfer of undertakings. It applies to employers with at least 50 employees.

Redundancy and dismissals

The Redundancy Payments Acts 1967–2014 gives a minimum entitlement to a redundancy payment for employees who have a set period of service. Not all employees are entitled to the statutory redundancy payment, even where there is a redundancy situation.

The Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007 set up a redundancy panel to consider certain proposed collective redundancies. The Act also removed the upper age limit for entitlement to redundancy payments.

Dismissal

Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977–2015, unfair dismissal can occur where either:

  • Your employer terminates your contract of employment, with or without notice
  • You terminate your contract of employment, with or without notice, due to the conduct of your employer. This is known as constructive dismissal.

You can get further information on the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Work permits

The Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014 provide for 8 different types of employment permits.

You can read about recent regulations on employment permits on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment website.

Complaints about a breach of employment rights

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 established the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which replaced the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality Tribunal, and National Employment Rights Authority.

You can refer complaints, disputes or grievances regarding breaches of employment rights under certain legislation to the Workplace Relations Commission using their online complaint form. Before you apply to the WRC, you must tell your employer of your intention to contact the Workplace Relations Commission. You should try to resolve the matter with your employer directly before referring a complaint to the WRC.

A Workplace Relations Commission adjudicator will listen to both sides before completing an investigation of the complaint and issuing a decision.

Read more in our page about making a complaint to the WRC, including what to expect at the hearing.

Mediation

Often, disputes between employers and employees can be resolved using workplace mediation.

Mediation is a confidential process, which aims to resolve workplace disputes and disagreements, particularly between individuals or small groups. A mediator will work with employees and employers to find a mutually agreed solution to the problem.

The Mediation Act 2017 allows employees to use mediation for certain civil claims, for example, personal injuries actions. This legislation does not apply to employment disputes brought to the WRC, including disputes being dealt with by mediation officers of the WRC.

Further information

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has a Guide to Employment, Labour and Equality Law (pdf) and a booklet on Employment Law Explained (pdf).

You can also find more information on employment protection legislation from the WRC’s Information and Customer Service.

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
Carlow
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Page edited: 14 January 2022