Employment rights in Ireland: A guide for employers and employees

Whether you’re an employer or employee, you will get a good insight, from this blog, into the most common issues surrounding employment law in Ireland.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of all aspects of employment rights in Ireland, from hiring to termination. We’ll explore issues such as minimum wage requirements, health & safety regulations, anti-discrimination measures, parental leave policies, holiday entitlements and more. By arming yourself with this knowledge you can ensure that both employers and employees have their legal obligations fulfilled – allowing for better work-relationships and a more efficient business.

Understanding Irish Employment law

In recent years Ireland has introduced new laws on minimum wage rates, working time regulations and parental leave, making it an attractive place for talented employees to work and consequently a great place to run a business.

Irish Employment Law is designed to protect workers’ rights by ensuring that employers provide fair pay, safe, healthy working environments and freedom from discrimination or harassment. Workers may be entitled to compensation for workplace injuries and legal protection against unfair dismissal and other forms of discrimination.

How can businesses protect themselves from employee disputes?

Policies and procedures

For Irish employers, creating a safe workplace should be paramount.

Employers should have clear policies and procedures in place for issues such as disciplinary actions, grievance procedures, and health and safety issues. This can help to prevent disputes from arising in the first place and can provide a framework for dealing with any disputes that do arise, minimising risk and costs further down the line.

Clear communication

Employers should ensure that employees understand their rights and obligations, as well as any policies and procedures that are in place. Effective communication can help to prevent misunderstandings and can encourage employees to raise concerns or issues before they become disputes.

Keep accurate records

Employers should keep accurate records of all employment-related matters, including contracts of employment, pay slips, and records of any disciplinary or grievance procedures. This can help to demonstrate that the employer has followed proper procedures and can be useful in the event of a dispute.

Seek legal advice

Employers should seek legal advice if they are unsure about their obligations under employment law or if they are facing a dispute with an employee. This can help to ensure that the employer is following the correct procedures and can help to minimize the risk of legal action being taken against them.

When setting up contracts with employees, directors and partners of your business, you should seek legal help to ensure you have all bases covered.

Consider alternative dispute resolution

Employers may wish to consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or conciliation, as an alternative to formal legal proceedings. These methods can be quicker and less costly than going to court, and can often result in a more satisfactory outcome for all parties involved.

Create detailed employment contracts

You should be fully aware of employee rights before employing anyone. You can find out more information on the workplace relations commission website workplacerelations.ie.

A contract is a written statement that will cover things such as maternity and paternity leave, working hours in the working week, rest periods and notice periods.

What are the rights of an employee in Ireland?

As an employee in Ireland, you have several important rights, including:

  1. A Written Contract of Employment within the first five days of starting a job. The employment contract should include details such as pay, hours of work, notice periods, sick leave. The contract may be different for fixed-term employees.
  2. An adult employee should receive at least the minimum wage, currently €11.30 per hour (as of Jan 2023).
  3. A safe and healthy workplace, with employers required to provide adequate training, protective equipment, and a safe working environment.
  4. Paid annual leave of at least four weeks per year or 8% of your hours worked.
  5. Paid public holidays, with nine such holidays recognized in Ireland (this may vary depending on the terms of your contract).
  6. A maximum working week of 48 Hours, although some exceptions apply.
  7. Maternity, paternity, and adoptive leave for paid time off work in certain circumstances.
  8. Take unpaid leave for family reasons including caring for a sick child or parent.
  9. Join a Trade Union and engage in collective bargaining with your employer.
  10. Pay slip – under the Payment of Wages Act 1991, an employer must provide employees with a written statement of their pay. The pay slip will show the gross wage and then all tax deductions.

These are just some of the common rights in Ireland for most employees. Each industry is different and depends on the terms of your employment contract.

What laws protect employees in Ireland?

There are several laws in Ireland that protect employees’ rights, including:

  1. The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, which sets out rules on working hours, rest breaks, annual leave, and public holidays.
  2. The National Minimum Wage Act 2000, which establishes the minimum wage rates and provides for the enforcement of minimum wage legislation.
  3. The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015, which provides employees with protection against unfair dismissal and wrongful termination of their employment.
  4. The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, which prohibit discrimination in employment on the grounds of age, gender, race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
  5. The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001, which ensures that part-time workers are not treated less favorably than full-time workers.
  6. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994-2004, which provides for paid maternity leave, health and safety protections, and job protection for pregnant employees.
  7. The Parental Leave Acts 1998-2019, which provides for unpaid parental leave for employees to care for their children.
  8. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which establishes employers’ responsibilities for providing a safe working environment and adequate training for their employees.

These are just a few examples of the laws in Ireland that protect employees’ rights, and there may be other specific laws and regulations depending on the job, industry, or circumstances.

What types of issues can an employment solicitor help with?

We help employers and employees through a variety of issues including:

  • Unfair dismissals
  • Redundancy
  • Constructive dismissal
  • Disputes with an employer or employee
  • Unfair contract terms
  • Zero hour contracts
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Restrictive covenants or clauses in your contract

Examples of some of the complex employment law cases we have worked on include:

  • Advising 25 employees in respect of an impending redundancy.
  • Advising a senior executive of a technology company in respect of their exit package. Securing a €1.5 million deal for our client.
  • A multinational credit card company required advice and a risk assessment in relation to their existing employee handbook and employment contracts.
  • Taking action on behalf of a senior director from a multi-national company in the WRC and the labour court.
  • Advising companies in relation to risk and dismissal of senior executives.

For a consultation about your employment or employee rights, you should contact us here.

Article by: Milan Schuster