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Labour law in Ireland

Compared to many other foreign countries, Irish labour law principles frequently offer employees stronger social-, income- and labour protection, laying a greater financial and operational risk on the company and employer than may be common in the client’s home country.

Are you thinking of expanding your business to Ireland and want to learn more about the Irish labour law? The most important laws and regulations affecting working conditions and social security are briefly listed below.

Are you interested in learning more about Irish labour law? We gathered all of the information about labour conditions, social security, contract types, probation/notice periods, and employment terminations for you in a single file. Send us a request and we will provide you with the Irish overview right away.


Labour Conditions


Minimum wage

From January 1st, 2024, the national minimum wage is EUR 12.70 gross/hour. Different rates apply for employees under the age of 20:

  • Aged 20 and over: EUR 12.70
  • Aged 19: EUR 11.43
  • Aged 18: EUR 10.16
  • Aged under 18: EUR 8.89

Working hours

The maximum average working week cannot exceed 48 hours. For most employees the average is calculated over period of 4 months with exemptions e.g. in the security
industry, hospitals or alike. There is no statutory obligation for the employer to pay employees for overtime.


Paid annual leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days paid leave per year. Annual leave is prorated for employees working part-time. It is for the employer to decide when annual leave may be taken, but this is subject to a number of conditions.

The following points are applicable:

  • Remaining statutory leave can be transferred to the following year, up until the end of June.
  • After working for 8 consecutive months, the employee is entitled to paid leave for an unbroken period of two weeks.
  • During any given year of employment, the entitlement is accrued on a pro rata basis, being 1/12th of the annual entitlement, starting on the first day of each month and rounded up to the nearest half day.

Sick leave

As from 2023, employees in Ireland have the right to be paid for a few days while they are at sick leave. Employers will be required to provide Statutory Sick Pay to employees under proposed legislations, the Sick Leave Bill 2021. The sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period:

  • 2023: 3 days of sick pay
  • 2024: 5 days of sick pay
  • 2025: 7 days of sick pay
  • 2026: 10 days of sick pay

Sick pay will be paid at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily treshold of EUR 110.

Social Insurance

The social insurance contribution most employees in Ireland make is called Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) and is, like the name states, dependent on the income, but also on the type of work an employee is performing. Employees are assigned to a PRSI subclass which defines the contributions on the employee/employer side as well as the benefits an employee is eligible for.

Healthcare: Whilst contributing to PRSI an employee is entitled to the Irish Public Health Care System. While the general quality of healthcare in Ireland is good, being insured with the public system means long waiting times, limited range of doctors and costs are at the employee. For this reason, many Irish employees choose a Private Health Insurance, which offers a more rapid access to treatments and a wider choice in doctors and hospitals.

Pension: In general, there are three different types of pension schemes in Ireland, two of which are state pensions (contributory & non-contributory) and one scheme is provided by the employer, the occupational pension scheme. There’s no legal obligation on employers to provideoccupational pension schemes. However, if the employer doesn’t have an occupationalpension scheme, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with access to a so-called Personal Retirement Savings Account scheme, or PRSA scheme. Even if theemployer does not contribute, an employee is able to set-up a contract with a PRSA provider.

Childcare leave: Next to maternity, paternity and parental leave, which are explained below, employees in Ireland can also make use of ‘adoptive leave’ and ‘parent’s leave’. Adoptive leave gives 24 weeks’ leave off work to one parent of the adopting couple or a parent who is adopting alone. Leave starts from the date the child is placed in care of the employee. Parent’s leave entitles each parent to 7 weeks’ leave durint the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of placement of the child. For both types of leave, the employer doesn’t have to pay, although some employers may top-up.


Maternity leave

An expectant mother is currently entitled to 26 consecutive weeks of maternity leave. The employee must take at least 2 weeks leave before the expected date of the birth, and at least 4 weeks after the baby is born. In addition, the employee may take an additional 16 consecutive weeks’ unpaid leave immediately after her maternity leave. Employees are not remunerated by the Employer whilst absent on maternity leave, as they are entitled to receive state maternity allowance during the 26 weeks of the maternity leave.

An employee must supply the employer with information and evidence of the pregnancy.

Paternity leave

Fathers or partners in same sex couples, who wish to take paternity leave, are entitled to 2 weeks, which must be taken in one continuous block, any time within 26 weeks of the birth of a child or the placement of an adopted child.

In addition, parents have an entitlement to take paid time off work to attend the last 2 antenatal classes before the birth. This is a once-off entitlement.

In both cases, written evidence is required and notice periods should be taken into account.

Parental leave

Parental leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Both parents have an equal separate entitlement to parental leave. A parent can take up to 26 weeks’ (based on full-time employment) parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday (16th birthday for a child with a disability). If an employee has more than one child, parental leave is limited to 18 weeks in a 12-month period. This can be longer if the employer agrees. Parents of twins or triplets can take more than 18 weeks of parental leave in a year.

Depending on years of service for the employer, the amount of parental leave can be pro-rated.


Your guide

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Labour law, regulations in ireland: paid annual leave | parakar
Rebecca Clifford
HR Operations
Labour law, regulations in ireland: paid annual leave | parakar
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Payroll & HR operations specialist
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