The Labour Law in Ireland is regulated mainly by the Organization of Working Time Act, 1997. The Act governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, employment relationships. The other acts that govern employment relationships are the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, Adoptive Leave Act, 1995, etc.
Hours & Pay Regulations
An employer may not permit an employee to work, in each period of seven days, more than an average of 48 hours, calculated over a four-month averaging period. Organization of Working Time Act, 1997, No. 20, §§ 18.
Reference period does not exceed –
- 4 months, or
- 6 months in cases where the employee is engaged in activities where it would be impractical to apply a 4 month reference period or if such length of time is specified in the collective agreement of the employee etc.
The days or months comprising a reference period shall be consecutive days or months, subject to the below conditions. The reference period shall not include –
- any period of annual leave granted to the employee only to the extent it does not exceed the minimum period of annual leave allowed by the legislation;
- any leave taken due to maternity or adoption reasons; or
- any sick leave is taken by the employee concerned.
In case of an employee is engaged in an activity, the daily working hours of which vary on a seasonal basis, or employee is employed in work of continuous nature, etc, where 4 or 6 months reference period cannot be applied, in such cases, a collective agreement for the time being in relation to the employee concerned can be agreed, which shall include the length of time which can be more than 4 or 6 months but in no case may be more than 12 months.
“Working time” is defined to include only that time that the employee is at work or at the employer’s disposal and is actually working, meaning rest breaks are not included in the calculation.
A banded contract gives an employee the right to work an average of the hours in a specified band for 12 months. There are 8 bands covering a certain number of hours per week. When an employment contract does not accurately provide the average hours an employee works per week over a 12 month period, in such cases an employee will become entitled to a banded contract.
Band of Weekly Working Hours
- Band A – 3 hours or more to less than 6 hours
- Band B – 6 hours or more to less than 11 hours
- Band C – 11 hours or more to less than 16 hours
- Band D – 16 hours or more to less than 21 hours
- Band E – 21 hours or more to less than 26 hours
- Band F – 26 hours or more to less than 31 hours
- Band G – 31 hours or more to less than 36 hours
- Band H – 36 hours and over.
An employer shall maintain in each place of business operated by the employer, a correct record consisting of employee’s working hours, wages, payroll records, etc of each of his/her employees at or in connection with that place of business for a period of not less than 3 years from the date of their making. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 25.
Employers are not required to pay employees higher rates for overtime work unless agreed between employer and employee otherwise.
An employer may not require a night worker to work more than an average of eight hours in each 24 hour period, calculated over a two-month reference period or a longer period if it is part of a collective agreement. The term “night time” is defined by the OWTA as the period between midnight and 7:00 a.m., and “night worker” is defined as an employee who normally works at least three hours during night time and at least 50 percent of his or her total working hours for that year during night time. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 16.
Employees are entitled to a 15-minute break after four and one-half hours of continuous work, and to a break of at least 30 minutes after six hours of work. The 30-minute break may include the 15-minute break referred to above. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 12.
Employees are entitled to a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours in each period of 24 hours during which he or she works for his or her employer. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 11.
In each period of seven days, they also are entitled to a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours, which should be preceded immediately by the daily rest period. If the employer is unable to provide a day off during a particular week, the requirement is satisfied if, during the following week, two days off are granted. Once again, if the two days off are granted consecutively, they must be preceded by the daily rest period. If the two days are granted separately, each one must be preceded by the daily rest period. Unless otherwise provided in the employment contract, the weekly rest period must include a Sunday. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 13.
An employee who is required to work on a Sunday must be compensated for having to do so unless this otherwise has been taken into account in determining the employee’s rate of pay. The OWTA allows compensation to be paid in the form of a reasonable “allowance,” by increasing the rate of pay by a reasonable amount, by allowing paid time off work, or by a combination of two or more of these methods. Organization of Working Time Act (OWTA), 1997 § 21.
Employees are entitled to nine paid holidays:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
- Easter Monday
- First Monday in May, June, and August
- Last Monday in October
- Dec. 25: Christmas Day
- Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day
Holidays that fall on a weekend are not moved and employees are not entitled to the next working day off. Employees who are required to work on a public holiday are entitled to one of the following:
- A paid day off on the public holiday;
- An additional day of annual leave;
- An additional day’s pay (double time); or
- A paid day off within a month of the public holiday.
If an employer fails to specify which form of benefit will be offered within 14 days of the public holiday, the employee is entitled to take a paid day off for that day. Organization of Working Time Act, 1997, No. 20, § 21.
Every employee is entitled to paid annual leave, equal to whichever of the following periods is greater:
- Four working weeks for a leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which there is a change of employment) ;
- One-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which the employee works at least 117 hours; or
- 8% of the hours the employee works in a leave year (subject to a maximum of four working weeks).
All employees, not just those who normally are expected to work more than eight hours per week, are entitled to annual leave. If an employee has worked eight or more months in a leave year, then leave normally must include an unbroken period of two working weeks.
The annual leave of an employee who works eight or more months in a leave year must include an unbroken period of two weeks. An employee can carry over unused leave for six months or if the employer agrees indefinitely. Employers may provide more than the statutory minimum annual leave. An employee is entitled to be paid in advance of taking annual leave, at the normal weekly rate or, as the case may be, at a rate that is proportionate to the normal weekly rate.
An employee, who due to illness cannot take annual leave during the relevant leave year or the normal carryover period of 6 months, is entitled to an extended carryover period of 15 months after the leave year to take their accrued annual leave.
Termination of Employment
An employee whose employment terminates shall be paid as compensation for the loss of that annual leave, by his or her employer an amount equal to the pay, calculated at the normal weekly rate or, as the case may be, at a rate proportionate to the normal weekly rate, that he or she would have received had he or she been granted that annual leave. Organization of Working Time Act, 1997, No. 20, §§ 19, 20, 23, and Workplace Relations Act 2015, § 86.
Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Ireland is €10.20 per hour.
The minimum wage given above is subject to change and may not be up to date. Kindly access the link to get current wage rates.
Employees are entitled to unpaid leave for up to 26 weeks for each eligible child until the child reaches the age of 12. An employee shall be working for at least a year to get the full amount of parental leave, however, if the child is very near the age threshold and the employee has been working for the employer for more than 3 months but less than one year can also take pro-rata parental leave.
In the case of children with disabilities, the leave can be taken up to the age of 16 years of a child. Parental leave for adopted children between the age of 10 and 12 can be taken up to 2 years from the date of adoption.
The leave can be taken in one continuous period of leave or 2 separate blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks each. There must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the two periods of parental leave per child.
Transfer of Leave
If both the parents work for the same employer, a parent can transfer 14 weeks of parental leave entitlement to another parent if there is an agreement between the employee and the employer.
Each parent is entitled to 2 weeks of paid leave for a child born or adopted on or after November 1, 2019. Parents Leave is specifically for parents during the child’s first year. Leave must be taken after birth or placement for adoption and must be taken within 52 weeks of birth or placement.
The leave can be taken on one continuous period of 2 weeks or periods of not less than one week. This leave cannot be transferred between parents except in specified circumstances such as the death of one of the parents. An employee who is on a parent’s leave will be still entitled to annual leave and any public holidays that occur during the parent’s leave.
The State will pay for the leave benefit at the rate of €245 per week, provided the employee has made sufficient PRSI contributions.
In case the child in relation to whom a relevant parent is entitled to or is on parent’s leave dies on or before the expiration of the period of the entitlement concerned, the death of the child shall not affect the entitlement of the relevant parent to such leave. Parental Leave Amendment Act 2019 § 3 – 8.
Female employees are entitled to 26 consecutive weeks of maternity leave, regardless of their length of service. There is no obligation on an employer to pay an employee on maternity leave. The employee may, however, be entitled to state social welfare payments. An employee is entitled to 16 additional weeks of unpaid maternity leave carrying no entitlement to social welfare payments. Employees are also entitled to paid time off during working hours for pre and postnatal medical appointments. An employee who is breastfeeding is entitled to time off work or a reduction of working hours without loss of pay.
The minimum period of maternity leave shall commence on such a day as the employee selects, which shall not be later than four weeks before the end of the expected week of delivery, and shall end on such a day as she selects, being not earlier than four weeks after the end of the expected week of delivery. Maternity Protection Act, 1994, No. 34, §§ 7 - 17.
Working fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. The employer is not required to pay an employee on paternity leave, although he may be eligible for social insurance benefits. The leave is open to all fathers, including same-sex couples and those adopting. The leave can be taken at any time in the 26 weeks following the birth of the child (or placement in the case of adoption). Four weeks’ notice must be given to the employer before taking the leave. Paternity Leave and Benefits Act, 2016, §§ 6-8.
Employers are not required to provide sick pay but if they do they must give all employees, including fixed term and part-time workers, details of the plan. Employees have rights under social welfare legislation to occupational sickness benefits from the state.
An adopting mother or sole adopting father is entitled to 24 weeks’ adoption leave. Employees taking this leave may be entitled to receive social welfare payments provided sufficient social insurance contributions have been made. Employees are entitled to an additional unpaid adoption leave of 16 weeks, for which no social welfare payments are available. Adopting parents are entitled to paid time off to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers required during the pre-adoption process. Adoptive Leave Act, 1995, No. 2, §§ 6-9.
Employees are entitled to leave their jobs for a period of 104 weeks in order to care for someone in need of full-time care and attention. An employee on caregiver’s leave may also, on one occasion only, apply to extend leave for a further 104 weeks were two beneficiaries of care are residing together. In such circumstances, the second period shall commence on the date that the deciding officer grants the extension of leave. Accordingly, such an eligible employee may take 208 weeks of caregiver’s leave. Caregivers are not entitled to be paid by employers while on caregiver’s leave but will have their jobs kept open for them for the duration of the leave. Employees must have 12 months’ continuous service with an employer to be eligible to apply for caregiver’s leave. Caregiver’s leave may be taken in a block of up to 104 weeks or in a series of lesser periods not exceeding an aggregate of 104 weeks and subject to a minimum of 13 weeks. Carer’s Leave Act, 2001, No. 19, §§ 6-9.
An employee may leave work when his or her immediate presence is indispensable due to the injury or illness of certain close relatives. Such leave is subject to a maximum of three days in any one year or five days in any three-year period and is paid for by the employer. Force majeure leave does not give any entitlement to leave following the death of a close family member.
Health and safety leave applies to pregnant employees, employees who have recently given birth, and employees who are breastfeeding. The employer must carry out a risk assessment on the health and safety of these employees, and if a risk is discovered preventive measures cannot eliminate that, the working hours or conditions should be adjusted, or the employee should be provided with other suitable work. If none of these options is feasible, the employee is entitled to health and safety leave, which will be paid at a normal rate of wages by the employer for the first 21 days. Thereafter, the employee may be entitled to receive social welfare payments.
An employee’s eligible period is considered to have ended if the employee becomes entitled to maternity benefits, 4 weeks have passed since the birth of the child, in case of breastfeeding 26 weeks have elapsed since the childbirth or there is no longer a risk to the health of the employee.
Last updated on: January 8th, 2021