Know your rights

1. Your Contract

We’re all entitled to a receive a contract within 2 months of starting work. It must include:

  • The full name of employer and employee
  • The address of the employer
  • The place of work
  • The title of job or nature of work
  • The date the employment started
  • If the contract is temporary, the expected duration of the contract
  • If the contract of employment is for a fixed term, the details
  • Details of breaks
  • The rate of pay
  • The pay reference period for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  • Pay intervals (e.g weekly,monthly)
  • Hours of work
  • Details of paid leave
  • Sick pay and pension (if any)
  • Period of notice to be given by employer or employee if ending/leaving employment
  • Details of any collective agreements that may affect the employee’s terms of employment

2 Changes to your contract

If your boss wants to change the terms of your contract they can only do that with your permission.

This includes if your boss asks you to work less hours than what’s in your contract or tries to impose a pay cut. Any “lay off” or “short time” periods must be temporary, must be stipulated in your contract and you must be notified before they start.

If a “lay off” or “short time” period continues for more than 4 weeks or for 6 weeks out of 13 weeks, you are entitled to claim a redundancy lump sum.

3 Pay slips

We are all entitled to receive pay slips which clearly show gross pay and all deductions.

Failure to disclose any deductions from your pay is illegal. Any claim against an employer can also include unpaid notice, holiday pay, bonuses and commission

4 The Minimum Wage

Since 1 January 2018 the National Minimum Wage for an adult employee is €9.55 per hour. Those under 18 are entitled to a National Minimum Wage of €6.69

Pay which cannot be viewed as part of the National Minimum Wage include:

  • Overtime premium
  • Call-out premium
  • Service pay
  • Unsocial hours premium
  • Tips which are placed in a central fund managed by the employer and paid as part of your wages
  • Premiums for working public holidays, Saturdays or Sundays
  • Allowances for special or additional duties
  • On-call or standby allowances
  • Certain payments in relation to absences from work, for example, sick pay, holiday pay or pay during health and safety leave

5 Your P45 and P60 certificates

We are all entitled to an annual P60 and if your employment ends, a P45. They contain details of the income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge that has been deducted by your employer and paid to Revenue.

6 The working week

The maximum average working week for most employees cannot exceed 48 hours.

If the hours of work are not specified in your contract, the employer must notify the employee of the starting and finishing times at least 24 hours before the first day or the day of each week the employee is required to work.

If you work on Sundays your entitlement to extra pay may be agreed between you and your employer. If there is no agreement about your pay in your contract, your employer must give you one or more of the following for Sunday working:

  • A reasonable allowance
  • A reasonable pay increase
  • Reasonable paid time off work

What is “reasonable” can be negotiated by you and your Trade Union with your employer.

7 Rest periods and breaks

All workers are entitled to breaks at work. The minimum requirement is that you are provided with a break of 15 minutes after every 4 ½ hour period of work. If you work more than 6 hours you are entitled to a break of 30 mins.

Retail workers who work more than 6 hours and whose hours of work include 11.30am–2.30pm are entitled to a one-hour consecutive break which must occur during those hours

8 Annual leave


Your rights here include annual leave, public holidays, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave, and parental leave. Employment agencies are required to provide the entitlement to leave like any other employer.

Sick leave and sick pay

Sick leave and sick pay must be negotiated with your employer.

Public holidays

There are 9 public holidays in Ireland each year:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (17 March)
  • Easter Monday
  • First Mondays in May, June and August
  • Last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • St. Stephen’s Day (26 December)

Full time employees and those who have worked for 40 hours or more in the 5 weeks before a public holiday are entitled to paid leave.

Employees who qualify for Public Holiday Benefit will be 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
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

Maternity leave

All workers who become pregnant are entitled to a basic period of maternity leave. You have the right to take 26 weeks paid maternity leave and an additional 16 weeks unpaid leave if you wish.

9 Trade unions


Every worker has a right to join a Trade Union and avail of Trade Union protection and representation. Employers can and often refuse to recognise Trade Unions – like Ryanair and McDonald’s for example – but even those two employers have been forced to recognise Trade Unions, at least partially, in recent months as workers struggle for their rights, better pay and conditions.

It is the role of a Trade Union to represent you and your work-mates in enforcing your rights at work and struggling for a better deal with your employer.

10 Disputes and Industrial action

All Trade Union members have the right to have a Trade Union official represent them at employment tribunals, contract negotiations or in a dispute procedure.

Members of a recognised Trade Union in a workplace or a sector of employment can take part in collective bargaining to win better pay, terms and conditions or to defend themselves from employers.

Where disputes develop between workers and employers, workers can collectively agree to take industrial action. That can include a refusal to engage in any work outside of contracted terms or strike action.

The law protects Trade Union members engaged in strike action and peaceful picketing. Employers cannot dismiss employees who engage in Industrial Action without breaching the Unfair Dismissals Act (1977).

Ultimately, succeeding or not in taking industrial action depends on the support and leadership offered by a Trade Union and the strength and confidence of workers to demand better. Basic legal protection is important but understanding whats necessary to win and getting organised and campaigning is key.