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End of Employment in Ireland

General Guidelines

The Unfair Dismissal Acts require an employer to act reasonably in employee dismissal. To lawfully end employment, the employer must have a straightforward and documented procedure in place and follow it. Employees deserve full and fair procedures that comply with natural justice in the dismissal process. If an employee feels they are being dismissed unfairly, they may ask for a written statement that explains the reasons. Their employer has to provide that statement back within 14 days. Typically, the employee must have at least 12 months' continuous service with the employer before they can bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

The dismissal of an employee is deemed fair if it is because of their capability, conduct, or capacity; it's a result of redundancy; the employment contravenes the law (i.e., the employee's continued employment would be illegal) or for some other substantial reason. An employee can be dismissed without notice if committing gross misconduct such as assault, drunkenness, bullying, theft or other severe employment policy breach. Employment contracts could further contain more gross misconduct examples.

To justify the dismissal, the employer must show that it was connected to one or more of the deemed fair by legislation grounds. They also have to show they followed all procedures and be prepared to disprove any allegations made by the employee that there may be any unfair reasons for the dismissal.

The employer must include the leaving date on the final payroll submission to notify the Revenue Commissions that employment has been ceased so that a new employer receives the correct details. Any remaining payment that the employer owes an employee after leaving should be included in the final payroll submission, including untaken holidays. The employer must also give the employee a payslip and information about what happens to their pension scheme, if applicable. 

In light of an employee's constitutional right to justice and fair procedures, a Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures introduced by The Workplace Relations Commission sets out general dismissal principles:

  • The employee grievances are fairly examined and processed
  • The details of any allegations or complaints coming from the employer are presented to the alleged employee
  • An opportunity is extended to the employee to respond to those
  • The employee has a right to be represented during the procedure
  • The employee has a right to a fair and impartial ruling on the issues, which takes into consideration any employee representations and any other relevant evidence, factors, and circumstances

Procedures guidelines

The Code of Practice indicates what employers should do. While it is technically not legally binding, employers are highly advised to follow it when dismissing an employee.

The procedure should be progressive, starting with an oral warning, followed by a written warning, a final written warning, suspension without pay and dismissal. For each of these stages, specific procedures need to be put in place. There may be instances when dismissal is warranted at an earlier stage of the process. 

During the time of awaiting the outcome of an investigation into an alleged breach of discipline, the employee may be suspended on full pay.

Employers should remove warnings from an employee's record after a specified period, advising the employee of that. Good grievance and disciplinary procedure require maintaining adequate records.

Other disciplinary action may include being transferred to another task, demotion or some other appropriate disciplinary action short of dismissal.

Unfair Dismissal in Ireland

Employee protection

An employer must have grounds for dismissing an employee – unfair dismissal in Ireland is covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977.

Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, an employee who has worked for more than one year for the same employer is protected by legislation and has the right to challenge a dismissal, even if still on probation. 

With substantial grounds justifying the dismissal, the employer must show that they acted reasonably. Every employer planning to dismiss an employee for poor performance should apply fair procedures beforehand. This can be notifying the employee that they are dissatisfied with the performance and allow them to improve before proceeding.

The following dismissals are deemed unfair beyond question:

  • Membership in or engagement with trade unions
  • Religious and political view and opinions
  • Being a party or a witness in legal proceedings against the employer
  • Discrimination based on race, skin colour, sexual orientation, age, as well as membership in the Traveller community
  • Any matters connected with pregnancy and birth
  • Being on maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, carer's leave, parental or force majeure leave, which are all statutory in Ireland
  • Unfair selection for redundancy
  • Making a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014
  • Dismissal in the context of TUPE transfer

Redundancy Pay & Entitlement in Ireland

Statutory redundancy payment kicks in after two years of continuous work with the employer. However, the law allows the employer and employee to agree on it to start earlier or for the sum to be more than the statutory limit. 

Employees are entitled to two weeks statutory redundancy payment for every year of service, plus a bonus week. A week's compensation is subject to a statutory ceiling, which currently stands at €600 per week. (€31,200 per year). All statutory redundancy payments are tax-free.

Other End of Employment Guidelines

Notice period

Regardless of how long they have been with the company, employees should give at least one week notice to their employers before resigning. However, most employers put a lengthier term contractual notice clause into the employment contract. That could range anywhere from a month for junior roles up to three months for more senior positions. The employer has the option to extend payment in lieu of the notice period. 

Employers too need to give notice before terminating an employment contract. Its length depends on the employee's time with the company and is as follows:

  • One week notice for service between 13 weeks and two years 
  • Two weeks notice for service between two and five years
  • Four weeks notice for service between five and ten years
  • Six weeks notice for service between ten and fifteen years 
  • Eight weeks notice for service beyond fifteen years

Severance

There is no requirement for employers to pay severance to employees who have been terminated. An employment contract may provide for a severance payment in the event of a termination by consent. Employers commonly require employees to sign an agreement relinquishing their right to take any future legal action against their employer in cases where they are getting an ex gratia severance.  

This page was last updated on 
22 September, 2022,
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