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Ireland

Staff

Updated 09/2012

Legal requirements

When setting up a new business with paid employees, you must be familiar with a number of basic provisions under Irish employment law.

Irish employment law and practice is based on a number of sources including Irish and EU-based legislation, decisions of the courts and custom and practice in this area.

The Department of Jobs Enterprise, and Innovation (DJEI) is the lead government department in this area.

Employment conditions

Minimum wage

Most experienced adult workers in Ireland are entitled to be paid €8.65 per hour gross. There are however some exceptions to the minimum wage, including those employed by close relatives, those aged under 18 and trainees or apprentices.

There are also certain industries in Ireland where a higher minimum wage applies, including the construction industry.

Working time rights

You must ensure that employees are given adequate rest. The Organisation of Working Time Act sets down the rules governing maximum working hours, daily and weekly rest breaks, annual leave and public holiday entitlements.

Protective leave

You are obliged to allow employees (who meet relevant qualifying criteria, if any) to take certain statutory protective leave, such as maternity, health and safety, parental, adoptive and carer's leave. There is specific legislation setting out the rules for each entitlement.

Termination of employment

Employment contracts can be terminated in a variety of ways, such as dismissal, redundancy or insolvency.

Employment contracts

People are taken on under either contracts of service or contracts for services. Only a person hired under a contract of service will be an employee and therefore protected by the full range of employment legislation.

If a contractor is freelance or self-employed, he/she will have a contract for services with the party the work is being done for. The type of contract a person works under can have serious implications for both employer and employee in matters such as employment protection legislation, legal responsibility for injuries caused to members of the public, taxation and social welfare.

Although full employment contracts do not have to be in writing, some terms and conditions of employment must be put in writing, within two months of starting employment. These typically include the method of calculating pay and whether or not there is a sick pay scheme in operation, among other conditions.

Depending on business needs, you may need to take on part-time, fixed-term or temporary agency workers. There is also legislation setting out the rules for employing young people.

Employing foreigners

EEA Nationals

Nationals of European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are entitled to work in Ireland without an employment permit.

Non EEA Nationals

A non-EEA national, except in certain cases requires an employment permit to take up employment in Ireland (the EEA comprises the Member States of the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). It should be noted that it is an offence under the Employment Permits Acts 2003 and 2006 for both an employer and an employee if a non-EEA National is in employment without an appropriate employment permit.

Employment permit holders can only work for the employer and in the occupation named on the permit. If the holder of an employment permit ceases, for any reason, to be employed by the employer named on the permit during the period of validity of the permit, the original permit and the certified copy must be returned immediately to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

For certain professional occupations, such as to practise as a doctor, accountant or lawyer, you are required to register with and are regulated by the relevant professional bodies.

EU Regulations on social security protect the rights of migrant workers moving within the EU in situations such as sickness, unemployment and old age. Social security rights acquired in one country are maintained when workers move to another country and they must be treated the same as other nationals.

Please note we are currently updating this information booklet - in the interim please refer to individual social welfare payments information on:

There are minimum social rules to follow, especially about non-discrimination, gender equality and health and safety.

Administrative procedures

Starting and ending employment

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 provides that an employer must issue their employees with a written statement of terms and conditions relating to their employment within two months of commencing employment.

Employees should also receive a written statement of pay or 'payslip'. The payslip should set out gross pay and list all deductions made from it. Employees are also entitled to the minimum wage (taking account of certain exceptions).

Employers must also take account of tax and social welfare, pensions, data protection and health and safety issues.

You can register for Employer's PAYE (Pay As You Earn) / PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) with the Revenue service.

The PAYE system is a method of tax deduction where an employer calculates and deducts income tax due each time wages, salary, etc. are paid to an employee. In addition, employers are obliged to calculate and deduct any liability for PRSI and universal social charge.

You must register for PAYE/PRSI if you pay:

  • €8 per week (€36 a month) or more, to an employee who has only one job;
  • €2 per week (€9 a month) or more, to an employee who has more than one job.

A company must register as an employer and operate PAYE/PRSI on the pay of directors even if there are no other employees.

Employment permits are issued by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation (DJEI). Applications can be submitted by either the prospective employee or employer.

Social security contributions

A PRSI contribution is payable in respect of full-time employees and part-time employees and consists of an employer's and, where due, an employee's share of PRSI. The PRSI contribution is a percentage of the employee's reckonable earnings. It may be made up of some or all of the following parts:

Record-keeping

Many pieces of legislation establish clear statutory timeframes during which employers must maintain certain records on current and former employees.

Dismissal

Both employees and employers are obliged to give notice in the case of termination of employment.

Employees who have been in continuous employment for at least 13 weeks are obliged to provide their employer with one week's notice of termination of employment. If a greater amount of notice is specified in the employee's contract of employment, then this notice must be given.

Employers must give employees notice dependent on length of the employee's service. If the employer does not require the employee to work out any part of their notice, the employer is obliged to pay the employee for that period.

Resources

Business Access to State Information and Services (BASIS) provides government information and services to businesses online. The information is structured around the lifecycle of a business, such as starting up and employing staff.

The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) provides information to employees and employers through its information unit, monitors employment conditions through its inspection services and can enforce compliance and seek redress.

EURES, the European job portal, offers employers information and support on recruiting across the EU. As well as assisting jobseekers, it helps entrepreneurs find workers from across the EU. In border regions, EURES provides information on cross-border commuting and helps workers and employers with problems that may arise.

Programmes

Government schemes can help entrepreneurs hire staff.

There are a number of government employment incentives, job schemes and information on the relationship between business and revenue when it comes to recruitment.

Help & advice

Help & advice

Enterprise Ireland is the government agency responsible for developing and promoting Ireland's business sector. Its mission is to accelerate the development of world-class Irish companies to achieve strong positions in global markets.

Chambers Ireland is Ireland's largest business network representing more than 13,000 businesses on the island of Ireland. A social partnership organisation, Chambers Ireland is limited by guarantee and owned by its subscribing member chambers. Its activities include support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) support the development of micro-enterprise at local level. CEBs can support individuals, firms or community groups with both financial and non-financial assistance.

SOLVIT helps businesses deal with problems that arise when national authorities wrongly apply EU market rules.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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