Employment rights: How much do you know?

Employment law in Ireland provides strong protection for any type of worker whose rights have been breached.

Employment law in Ireland provides strong protection for any type of worker whose rights have been breached.

These rights are set out in several employment acts dating from 1993 to 2007. The most relevant acts to students still at college are the Protection of Employees (Part-Time) Work Act, 2001 and Terms of Employment (Information Act,) 1994.

For those in the workforce a considerable bank of legislation covering a diverse range of issues provides weighty protection of their rights. Every worker is entitled to a written statement or contract which contains the terms and conditions of their employment. This should be given to you within two months of starting employment. The contract should contain the hourly wage, hours per week, how your salary is calculated, when and how it will be paid, and holiday and sick day entitlements. It should also include the company policy in case of dismissal or redundancy. You should be informed of the notice you are required to give when leaving.

A payslip includes your PPS Number, bank details, tax credits, contract hours, overtime hours and corresponding rates of pay. If you are being taxed or have any voluntary deductions from your salary these will also be displayed. Every worker is entitled to receive payslips.

The minimum wage of €8.65 per hour applies to all workers apart from those in their first year of employment since turning eighteen. In this case they are entitled to €6.92 per hour. Employees aged under eighteen may receive in excess of €6.06 per hour.

There must be no more than 48 hours worked per week. For those under eighteen no more than 37.5 hours may be worked. A break of 15 minutes is mandatory for any shift of 4.5 hours. This break increases to 30 minutes for 6 hours of work. For 8 hours of work you are entitled to a minimum of an hour lunch. Some employers may also give an additional 30 minute break when working 8 hours or more. You are entitled to premium payment for Sundays and public holidays or paid time off in lieu.

Sick pay is not a statutory entitlement. The employer is not legally bound to pay the employee on a sick day. Some employers only introduce sick pay after a certain period of uninterrupted employment while other may give you a certain number of sick days for which you will be paid. It is not unusual for employers to outright refuse sick pay. You must present a doctor’s sick note if you are out for more than three days.

Holiday entitlements vary by industry. Part-time workers have the right to a proportional amount of annual leave based on the amount of time they work per week. Standard practice generally allows for employees to have four paid working weeks of holiday time per year.

Irish employment legislation provides harsh punishment for unfair dismissal. If an employee is fired because of their gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any other personal issue, the employee has the right to legal recourse. This can be done through a number of different channels such as the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Labour Court, the Civil Courts and the Rights Commissioner Service.

Several cases of unfair dismissal, harassment and breach of employment rights have recently been taken against employers to great success. One strange case involved a building worker who was fired after being convicted of stealing petrol from a filling station that his company had built. He was later awarded €6000 compensation for unfair dismissal.

Are your employment rights being upheld? If not then get in touch at [email protected]