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Employee Rights in Ireland

General Employee Rights in Ireland

Employment agreement

Every employee in Ireland has the right to a comprehensive written employment contract, which covers a lot of the subjects that are included in Irish employment law. While many employers give their employees a contract before employment commences, there are two deadlines that employers need to adhere to.

Within five days of starting the job, employees need to be notified about what is known as core terms of the contract, which cover:

  1. Employer and employee full name
  2. The address of the employer
  3. Length of the contract (if the contract is temporary or fixed-term)
  4. Pay period ( week/fortnight/ month)
  5. The usual length of a working day and a working week

Then within two months of the start date, the employer has to put in writing the following:  

  • Place of work
  • Job title and work nature
  • Salary in euros
  • Date the employment started
  • Hours of work and policies around days in lieu or overtime
  • Paid leave including annual leave and public holiday entitlement
  • Sick pay
  • Pension and pension schemes that are available
  • Notice period 

The employer must sign and date the contract, which should be in English. 

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Statement of pay

Employees must be given a written statement of pay or a pay slip with every salary payment. A payslip will show the gross salary and detail all deductions. The employer must have the employee's permission to make deductions from their salary unless these deductions are authorised by law (Income tax, PRSI and USC). Remote employers can send electronic copies of the payslip. (You can read more about the steps it takes to set up international payroll here).

Safety in the workplace

The employer is responsible for ensuring that employees have a safe workplace. This includes protection from violence at work, harassment and bullying, alongside any environmental dangers. Employers are expected to work to prevent any workplace injuries and ill health.

Every employer has to carry out a risk assessment for the workplace and identify any hazards present in the workplace - including psychological stress. Employers should assess the risks arising from such dangers and identify the steps to be taken to deal with any threats. 

One important point to remote employers is that the same level of responsibility for the safety and health of employees applies when employees work from home. This means, employers should offer similar supervision, education and training, and implement sufficient control measures to protect homeworkers. (An example is Shopify Ireland, which asks  new employees to send a video of their office). The employer should accept liability for any accidents or injuries of a homeworker as for any other employee. They should also do so if the employee is a remote worker for them and the employer is based in another country.

Right to disconnect

In 2021, Ireland passed new legislation to keep up with technological advances and the uptake of remote work by creating a new employee right that gives them the right to disconnect from work outside working hours.

The right to disconnect applies to all types of employees, regardless of their work location (office or home). The goal is to help employees disengage from all forms of work (including checking emails or taking phone calls) outside working hours without feeling obligated to work longer than stated on their employment agreement.

Moreover, employers cannot penalise employees for refusing to do work outside their agreed working hours and should respect their right to disconnect.

Employers are encouraged to develop a Right to Disconnect Policy to address the reality and needs of the company and clearly address the instances where they may have a legitimate reason to contact staff outside of regular working hours. For teams comprised of members working in different time zones, it is essential to emphasise that there is no need to respond within their colleagues' work hours. The Policy should also emphasise to the employees that there is an expectation that they disconnect from work outside of their regular working hours and during annual leave.

Employee Protections in Ireland

Protection from discrimination

According to Irish employment law, everyone has the right to be treated equally regardless of their gender, age, race, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability, or religion. One specific for Ireland ethnic origin anti-discrimination ground is Traveller community membership. Discrimination on any of the above grounds during the hiring process or when in employment is unlawful.

Discrimination may be direct or indirect. Treating one individual less favourably over another is seen as direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination, in contrast, occurs when an employer applies a particular condition to all employees that puts certain groups of employees at a disadvantage. 

Personal information protection

Personal data of employees in Ireland (as well as anywhere in the EU) is protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under GDPR, employers, remote or not, must comply with the following principles when handling the personal data of employees:

  • Use personal data reasonably, lawfully and in a transparent manner
  • Process the data only for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes
  • Obtain data for lawful purposes and refrain from using it in a way, which is incompatible with those purposes
  • Ensure it is accurate, relevant, and up to date
  • Ensure it is not kept for longer than necessary
  • Ensure it is kept secure.

Organisations should have a Privacy Statement, which employees can easily access explaining what data is held and what it is used for. Since employees are allowed to access their personal data, employers need to have in place a procedure for how these requests are handled within one month. 

Under GDPR legislation, employees have the right to:

  • Receive information about the collection and processing of their personal data
  • Access the personal data and supplementary information held about them 
  • Have their personal data corrected if there are mistakes or inaccuracies
  • Have their personal data erased 
  • Restrict the handling or use of their data if they consider it is unlawful or the information is inaccurate
  • Challenge the use of their personal data for direct marketing, scientific or historical research.

Protection against unfair dismissal

Every employee in Ireland has protection against unfair dismissal. Dismissals can be justified on the employee's competence, capability, or conduct. The following dismissals are automatically deemed to be unfair:

  • Trade union membership as well as engaging in trade union activities
  • Religious or political opinions
  • Testifying in legal proceedings against the employer
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age or membership of the Traveller community
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding
  • Availing of rights under legislation to maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, carer's leave, parental or force majeure leave
  • Unfair selection for redundancy
  • Whistleblowing

There are instances when an employer can dismiss an employee without notice. That is usually for committing gross misconduct such as assault, theft, or severe breach of employment policies. 

Protection according to classification

The Protection of Employees Act 2003 grants part-time and fixed-term employees the following rights:

  • The right to the same terms and conditions as comparable permanent employees.
  • The right not to suffer a detriment or unfair dismissal because of their employment status.

Whistleblower protection

Whistleblowers in Ireland are protected from penalties and dismissal under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. It protects workers who disclose one or more relevant (or potential) wrongdoings in the workplace. They must be revealing proper information and not a mere allegation or expression of concern which shows one or more relevant wrongdoings. Whistleblowers can be both current and former employees, as well as trainees, independent contractors, agency workers and people on work experience.

Wrongdoing is widely defined as:

  • Commission of criminal offences
  • Failure to comply with legal obligations
  • Endangering the health and safety of individuals
  • Damaging the environment
  • Hiding or destroying evidence about any of the above wrongdoing.

Even if the disclosed information is proved to be incorrect, the person is still protected if they had a reasonable belief in the information. If an employee is dismissed from their employment because they made a protected disclosure, that dismissal would be regarded as unfair. In those cases, employees have the right to appeal the dismissal as unfair. If their claim succeeds, the employee could be granted up to five years' gross salary compensation.

The European Union is currently working on legislation which, if enacted, will broaden the scope of the Protection Disclosures Act 2014. 

Protection in case of business transfer 

Superior protection is extended to employees in case of a business transfer, which includes the sale of assets or business activity, or a change of service provider. This is governed by the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (TUPE). If the employer does not change, neither do the employment contracts. All rights, duties and liabilities remain in place, and the buyer of the employer’s shares inherits them. 

If a TUPE situation arises:

  • An employee cannot be dismissed solely because of the transfer. However, they may be dismissed on economic, technical or organisational grounds.
  • Employer rights and obligations outlined in the employment contract prior to the transfer date (other than pension rights) are carried over to the new employer.
  • Employees’ representatives must be consulted if either employer, the transferor or the transferee, envisage measures concerning the employees. This needs to happen no later than 30 days before the transfer occurs.

Required Employee Benefits in Ireland


Irish residents receive State Pension payments once they reach the age of 66, provided they contributed sufficiently to social insurance. According to Irish employment law, the employer isn't required to set up or contribute to a pension scheme as a benefit to the employee. However, if there is no pension scheme in place or the employee hasn't joined one, the employer has to provide access to a personal pension plan through a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) provider within the first six months of employment. (See here the full list of statutory benefits in Ireland and a benchmark on what are typical benefits in kind offered by Irish employers).

Redundancy payment

According to Irish employment law, when an employer makes an employee redundant, they have to compensate them. For every year of service, they have to compensate the employee with a two weeks' pay, which is capped at €600 per week, plus one additional week's wage. 

Paid time off

Irish employment law guarantees employees a certain amount of paid leave (see our Irish benefits benchmark). However, employers are allowed to alter that amount (add, but not subtract) and have to agree with employees first. The annual leave pay is at the standard weekly rate. 

Job Security in Ireland

Work Unions

All employees in Ireland have a constitutional right to join or leave a union; however, employers have a legal right to accept or not the union as representing the workforce. If employers choose to recognise one union, they must then recognise other unions organised by employees. Employees cannot be dismissed from their job for being a union member.

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