Employment Rights

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Your right to take up employment in Ireland varies depending on your country of origin and the type of visa you hold. This section explains your entitlements, as well as your rights in the workplace.

Your Rights in the Workplace

Everyone who has permission to work in Ireland has employment rights in the workplace, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

This means that you have a right to a legal contract, to lawful hours of work, to a salary at or above the minimum wage, and other entitlements as set out in Irish law. (See more below)

You should be aware that an employer is not legally required to offer working hours that suit an employee's study timetable. This is something you will need to think about before accepting any job offer.

Accessing Employment

Students from the EEA

All citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA) are free to work full-time or part-time employment in Ireland while studying.

Students from outside the EEA

Students attending a full time course and in possession of an Irish Residency Permit card (Stamp 2) are entitled to work part-time provided that the course of study is included on the government's list of visa eligible courses.

Non-EEA students may only work 20 hours per week, except for two standardised periods:

  • Summer holidays: 1 June to 30 September (4 months)
  • Christmas holidays: 15 December to 15 January (1 month)

During these periods, non-EEA students can work for up to 40 hours per week. These dates are fixed for all non-EEA students, regardless of the actual college teaching calendar for their course. Non-EAA students will only be able to work full-time outside of these specific times if they avail of the Third Level Graduate Programme or obtain an Employment Permit.

The right to work will cease automatically on expiry of a student's immigration permission.

Contracts, Hours & Pay

From the moment you start working, there is a contract between you and your employer, whether it is written or not. After you start working, your employer must give you a written statement within 5 days that includes:

  1. Your name and your employer's name
  2. The address of the employer
  3. The expected duration of the contract (if the job is temporary or for a fixed period)
  4. Details of your pay
  5. Your expected hours in a normal working day and in a normal working week.

A sample 5-day statement of terms of employment is available on workplacerelations.ie (download PDF).

You must receive a full written contract with your remaining terms of employment within 2 months of starting a new job. This must include:

  1. Your job title or a description of your work
  2. The place of work
  3. The start date of your employment 
  4. When you will be paid (e.g. weekly or monthly)
  5. Any terms or conditions relating to hours of work (including overtime)
  6. Information about rest periods and breaks
  7. Paid leave (e.g. holidays)
  8. Details about sick pay
  9. The period of notice you must provide if you wish to leave your job
  10. Information about any collective agreements that may affect your terms of employment

The contract will usually include a probationary period, which means that, for a time when you first start working, the employer can end your employment and the laws around unfair dismissal will not apply (although there are some exceptions). The probationary period may be up to 12 months, but is often less. 

For more, see Citizens Information

Under Irish employment law, you cannot be required to work more than an average of 48 hours per week. For most employees, this average is calculated over 4 months, which means that you can be required to work more than 48 hours in a given working week, once your average working week over 4 months is no longer than 48 hours. Some exceptions apply. This applies to students from EEA countries only; students from non-EEA countries can only work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, or up to 40 hours per week during the standardised winter and summer holidays (see above).

Your hours of work will usually be written in your employment contract. If they are not written in your contract, your employer must tell you the start and finish times at least 24 hours before the first day of the week the employee is required to work. For example, the employer might put a notice up each week on the employee noticeboard. 

If you are required to work additional hours outside of your normal working hours, or overtime, you will normally be paid at a higher rate, but this is not a legal requirement. Your employment contract should say if you are required to work overtime and how much you will be paid. Your employer must give you at least 24 hours' notice if you are required to work additional hours, except where there are unforeseen circumstances.

If required to work on Sundays and paid hourly (rather than salaried), employees are generally entitled to a premium payment for Sunday working, or paid time off in lieu.

For more, see Citizens Information

Zero-hours contracts are prohibited in most cases. If you have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months and consistently worked more hours each week than what is provided for in your contract, you are entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the number of hours you actually work. A request to be placed in a band of hours must be submitted to your employer in writing.

If you are called in to work but sent home without work, you are entitled to receive a minimum payment (except in emergencies, exceptional circumstances or short-term relief, for example). Generally, you are entitled to 3 hours' pay at the minimum wage rate, or 3 hours' pay at the minimum rate in an Employment Regulation Order where applicable. 

For more, see Citizens Information

You are entitled to:

  • A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hours
  • A weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours per seven days, following a daily rest period
  • A 15-minute break if working 4.5 hours.
  • A 30-minute break if working six hours.

You are not legally entitled to payment for break periods.

Some industries are covered by Registered Employment Agreements (REA’s) which may contain regulations regarding breaks. 

Shop employees who work more than 6 hours and whose hours of work include 11.30am–2.30pm are entitled to a one-hour consecutive break which must occur during those hours.

For more, see Citizens Information.

The current national minimum wage is 12.70 per hour. The National Minimum Wage applies to all employees except:

  • Employees in industries (such as the construction industry) which are covered by Registered Employment Agreements (REA’s) entitling their workers to a higher minimum wage (see below)
  • Employees aged 19 (€11.43 per hour)
  • Employees aged 18 (€10.16 per hour)
  • Employees aged under 18 (€8.89 per hour)
  • Employees who are close relatives of the employer

For more, see Citizens Information

In Ireland there are nine public holidays each year:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)
  • Easter Monday
  • The first Monday in May
  • The first Monday in June
  • The first Monday in August
  • The last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • St. Stephen’s Day (December 26)

In respect of a public holiday, the employee is entitled to whichever of the following his/her employer determines:

  1. a paid day off on that day
  2. a paid day off within a month of that day
  3. an additional day of annual leave
  4. an additional day's pay

Full-time workers have immediate entitlement to benefit for public holidays, and part-time workers have entitlement to benefit when they have worked a total of 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks.

For more, see Workplace Relations

All employees earn personal holiday time, or "annual leave", entitlements from the time they start work, whether they work full-time or part-time. Most employees are entitled to four weeks’ paid annual leave per year.

Depending on time worked, employees' holiday entitlements should be calculated by one of the following methods:-

  1. 4 working weeks in a year in which the employee works a minimum of 1,365 hours (unless it is a year in which he or she changes employment)
  2. 1/3 of a working week per calendar month that the employee works at least 117 hours
  3. 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks).

If more than one of the preceding methods at (1), (2) or (3) above is applicable, the employee shall be entitled to whichever method provides the greater entitlement. However the maximum statutory annual leave entitlement of an employee in a leave year is four of his/her normal working weeks.

The employer determines the timing of an employee’s annual leave, taking into consideration work and personal requirements and should consult him/her or the relevant union in advance. Pay for the leave must be given in advance and calculated at the employee’s normal weekly rate.

For more, see Workplace Relations and Citizens Information.

If an employee falls ill, they generally have no right under employment law to be paid while on sick leave. Consequently, it is at the discretion of the employer to decide their own policy on sick pay and sick leave, and this should be specified clearly in your terms of employment.

Employment Equality

In Ireland, discrimination on any of the following grounds in employment is not permitted by law:

  • Gender
  • Civil status
  • Family status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious belief
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins
  • Membership of the Traveller community.

The law also prohibits victimisation or discrimination against a person on the basis of association with another person, providing support to the person, being named as a comparator, acting as a witness on behalf of that other person, or who has given notice of an intention to take any such actions.

Further information in relation to Employment Equality is available from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and Workplace Relations.


Disciplinary Procedures and Dismissal

The Workplace Relations Commission's Code of Practice: Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures states that employers should have written grievance and disciplinary procedures. Disciplinary procedures explain what will happen if the employer is not happy with your job performance.

Generally, the procedures allow for informal warnings, which are followed by written warnings and ultimately to dismissal where job performance does not improve. Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, your employer should provide written notice of the procedures to be followed before dismissal. This must be done within 28 days of entering the contract of employment.

You should receive appropriate warnings in which you are made fully aware of the allegations against you, and you should be given an opportunity to present your side. You also have the right to be represented in any disciplinary procedures by, for example, a trade union official or other representative.

You can read more in our document on fair grounds for dismissal.

For more, see Citizens Information

Getting Help

If you encounter problems in your employment, you can contact us.

Further Information

The Citizens Information website provides more information about your entitlements to access work in Ireland, as well as your rights and entitlements in the workplace.

Workplace Relations provides information on industrial relations as well as rights and obligations under Irish employment and equality legislation.

Supported by the Department of Education and Skills