Minimum rates of pay
Generally, the amount of pay you get for working is agreed between you and your employer. Pay negotiations normally happen when you get a job offer.
However, most employees are entitled to a minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.
Since 1 January 2021, the national minimum wage is €10.20 per hour. Some people get sub-minimum rates, such as people aged under 20 (see the ‘Rates’ section below).
The national minimum wage does not stop an employer from offering you a higher wage.
Different rates of pay for certain sectors
Employees in certain sectors, such as the security sector and the cleaning sector, have other minimum rates of pay. The rules for these sectors are set out in Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) made by Joint Labour Committees. You can find out more in our page, Employment agreements and orders.
What counts as pay?
For the purposes of the national minimum wage, your gross wage (your total pay before any money is deducted, such as tax or pension contributions) includes:
- Your basic salary
- Any shift premium (for example, extra Sunday pay)
- Service charge
If you get food (known as board) or accommodation (known as lodgings) from your employer, the following amounts are included in the minimum wage calculation:
Board rates since 1 January 2021
Lodging rates since 1 January 2021
|€0.91 per hour worked (calculation at hourly rate)||€24.10 per week or €3.45 per day|
How is my hourly rate calculated?
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).
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
Your working hours include overtime, travel time where this is part of the job, time spent on training authorised by the employer and during normal working hours.
Your 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, as set out in 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.
What does not count as pay?
When calculating the minimum wage, do not include:
- 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
Workers not entitled to 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
- Aged under 20 (see ‘Rates’ below)
Current minimum rates of pay
Since 1 January 2021, the national minimum wage is €10.20 per hour, see rates below.
Rates on or after January 2021
Minimum hourly rate of pay
% of minimum wage
|Aged 20 and over||€10.20||100%|
|Aged under 18||€7.14||70%|
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 abolished training rates and simplified sub-minimum rates based solely on age.
It was announced in Budget 2022, that minimum rates of pay will increase from 1 January 2022. The national minimum wage for people aged 20 and over will increase by 30c to €10.50.
Minimum wage from 1 January 2022:
|20 years and over||€10.50 per hour|
|19 years||€9.45 per hour|
|18 years||€8.40 per hour|
|Under 18 years||€7.35 per hour|
Board and lodging rates will also increase from 1 January 2022:
- For board: €0.94 per hour worked (calculation at hourly rate)
- For lodgings only: €24.81 per week or €3.55 per day
My employer cannot pay me the minimum wage
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 3 months and one year. Only one such exemption can be allowed.
The employer must apply to the Labour Court for the exemption, and they 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 show 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.
How to make a complaint
If you are not getting the national minimum wage, you should speak with your employer first.
- 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).
You can get more information on the national minimum wage from the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service.