Irish employment law regulates numerous areas of employment including unfair dismissal; minimum notice, minimum wage, maternity and paternity protection and working time. Statute law and decisions of both courts and the Workplace Relations Commission impact on many of the relationship between employer and employee. The Workplace Relations Commission is the go-to organisation for your rights at work. It is important for both employees and employers to know their rights.  

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Rights & Obligations

Outlined below are some of the most important rights and obligations to know for employees;

  • Employers are required to provide employees with certain information about their employment, such as a contract of employment, a job description, rate of pay and hours of work. 
  • Employers must provide employees with information on the 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of them starting work. 
  • Employees have the right to a pay slip showing their gross wages and details of any deductions. 
  • You are entitled to certain notice prior to the termination of employment. 
  • Employers must 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 and details of the payments in respect of this leave. Employers must also keep weekly records of employees starting and finishing times. 
  • Maternity leave in Ireland entitles all eligible women to 42 weeks off work before and after pregnancy, with the first 26 weeks paid. The legislation sets out safeguards for protecting employment rights during that period and prescribes health and safety measures to be taken during pregnancy and after return to work including ante and post-natal care. 
  • Statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks. This must be taken in the first 6 months following the birth or adoption of a child. 
  • Adoptive couples can choose who should take adoptive leave and benefit. The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave. 
  • Employees have an entitlement to avail of temporary unpaid carer’s leave so they can care for someone who requires full-time care and attention. 
  • Discrimination in prohibited in a range of employment-related areas. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community. There is also an obligation on employers to prevent harassment in the workplace.
  • Fixed-term employees or part time employees cannot be treated less favorably than comparable permanent workers and that employers cannot continually renew fixed term contracts. Employees can only work on one or more fixed term contracts for a continuous period of four years. After this, the employee is considered to have a contract of indefinite duration (e.g. a permanent contract). 
  • 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. 
  • There is a minimum entitlement to a redundancy payment for employees who have a set period of service with the employer when made redundant. Not all employees are entitled to the statutory redundancy payment, even where a redundancy situation exists. 
  • Circumstances in which unfair dismissal can occur are where your employer terminates your contract of employment, with or without notice or you terminate your contract of employment, with or without notice, due to the conduct of your employer. This is known as constructive dismissal.
  • Employment law provides protection for employees who feel their rights have been breached. Complaints, disputes and grievances are heard before a Workplace Relations Commission Adjudicator who will listen to both sides before completing an investigation of the complaint and issuing a decision. 
  • Employees are entitled to certain minimum rest periods in the working day and between one day’s work and the next. 
  • The Industrial Relations Acts provide for a mainly non-compulsory regime of conciliation and arbitration for disputes between employers and employees. An employee cannot be prevented by the employer from joining a trade union, if there is one in existence in the place of employment. 
  • EU law provides that a national of any EEA state may work in another member state without a work permit, visa or other equivalent document. Save for some exceptions, nationals of non–EEA countries require a work permit. 
  • Since January 2021, the minimum wage in Ireland for an adult employee is €10.20 per hour. 
  • For each day that you work in Ireland, you earn time off in annual leave. Typically, full-time workers receive four weeks of annual leave each year. Your holiday entitlements are calculated on a proportional basis. These holiday entitlements should be provided in addition to any time you get off work for public holidays, sick leave and maternity or paternity leave.

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Gary O’Sullivan

Solicitor, Head of Department

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