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Employment law | Legal Guides

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Employment law is highly complex. If you are an employer or an employee with a query about employment law, we recommend that you talk to your solicitor.

You can also find information about employment law using the links below:

How a solicitor can help employees

Your solicitor is in your corner. If you are faced with an issue at work, you can talk to him or her in confidence. Your solicitor will:

  • Explain the law.
  • Help you to understand your rights.
  • Explore your options.

Issues for employees

Your solicitor can advise on a range of employment-related issues. These include:

  • Termination of employment including unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal.
  • Breaches of equality law and discrimination.
  • Obligations under the terms and conditions of your employment contract.
  • Legal entitlements.
  • Bullying and harassment.
  • Health and safety law. 

Your options

Your solicitor will explore all of your options and how you might achieve your preferred result. These are sometimes called ‘remedies’. Some employment disputes are resolved by negotiation or mediation. Mediation is where an independent person or organisation steps in to help the people involved in a dispute to solve the problem in a fair way.

There are a number of statutory bodies such as the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission that offer remedies in employment. Alternatively, you may decide to pursue an action through the civil courts. Talk to your solicitor about all the ways you may try to achieve your preferred result.

There are strict time limits attached to the various remedies, which your solicitor will tell you about. The way that you choose to pursue your case will affect the cost involved.

How a solicitor can help employers

Getting advice from a solicitor will make sure that you are up-to-date with the most current information in a way you can understand. Your solicitor’s guidance can help you to avoid problems by putting the correct procedures and policies in place now. Whether you are an existing employer or starting off in business, your solicitor is in your corner.

Issues for employers

There are many legal issues and considerations that your solicitor can advise on, including:

  • Making clear who is an employee and who is not.
  • The employment contract and the employee handbook.
  • Employee entitlements in relation to:
    • Pay.
    • Rest periods.
    • Hours of work.
    • Breaks.
    • Pensions.
    • Leave.
  • Retention of employment records.
  • Insurance considerations.
  • Equality.
  • Data protection.
  • Health and safety obligations.
  • Disciplinary matters.
  • Termination of employment including dismissal and redundancy. 

Resolving issues

It is important to talk to your solicitor before issues become more serious. When a dispute arises, your solicitor can advise you on your options for resolving the issue. This includes alternative dispute remedies – options that do not involve going to court. This might include mediation, arbitration or using Ombudsmen or other regulatory bodies. In other words, an independent party will step in to help those involved in a dispute to resolve the problem in a fair way.

Your solicitor can help you bring the dispute to a quick and satisfactory conclusion.

Within two months of an employee starting work, the employer must legally provide him or her with a written statement outlining the terms of the employment. This is usually called a contract of employment. For more information, see the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994.

Employees should read this contract carefully, and keep a copy, as it sets out the rights and obligations of both employee and employer. If a question arises about these issues, it can usually be resolved by referring to the contract, unless the contract itself is in breach of employment law.

Certain types of employment, or an employee’s age, may affect his or her rights under employment law.

Children or young persons

The law sets limits on the type of work children (those under 16) and young persons (under 18) are allowed do. An Employer may employ a child who is over the age of 14 years to do light work outside the school term, provided that:

  1. The hours of work do not exceed 7 hours in any day or 35 hours in any week
  2. The work is not harmful to the safety, health and development of the child
  3. During the period of the summer holidays, the child does not do any work for a period of at least 21 days.

An employer may employ a child who is over the age of 15 years to do light work during school term time, provided that the hours of work do not exceed 8 hours in any week.

The maximum working week for a young person is 40 hours and 8 hours a day. If a young person works for more than one employer, the combined hours of work over a day or week cannot be more than the maximum number of hours allowed. Young persons are only permitted to work between 6am and 10pm. 

Anyone employing a child or young person must:

  • Obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate.
  • Keep records of the hours worked by the young person.
  • Get a letter of consent from a parent or guardian if a child under the age of 16 is being employed.

You can view more details on the hours that young people can work, and the minimum rest periods any young person must receive, in the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 as amended by the Education Welfare Act 2000.   

Fixed-term contract employees

Fixed-term employees have a contract stating when their employment finishes. If an employee is working on repeated fixed-term contracts, he or she is covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts. However, an employee must have at least one year of continuous service before bringing a claim of unfair dismissal.

Employees can only work on one or more fixed-term contracts with the same employer for four continuous years. After this, they are considered to have a contract of indefinite duration – a permanent contract. A guide to the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003, which aims to inform employees and employers, is available from the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Part-time employees

A part-time employee is someone “whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of work of an employee who is a comparable employee in relation to him or her”. A part-time employee cannot be treated less favourably than a full-time employee unless it relates to his or her pension, or can justified on objective grounds (the employer achieving a legitimate objective).

The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 aims to ensure that part part-time employees enjoy the same treatment as comparable full-time employees. A guide to this Act is available on the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Self-employed contractors

Most employment protection legislation does not apply to self-employed contractors. The tax and social insurance obligations and entitlements for self-employed contractors are also different to those of employees.

In most cases, it will be obvious whether a person is employed or self-employed. However, neither an employee/contractor nor their employer/client has the final say on the type of employment relationship that exists. If a question arises, Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, or a court or tribunal will determine it based on standard tests.

For more information on this, you can download Revenue’s Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self Employment Status.

Agency Workers

An agency worker is someone who is employed by an agency under a contract of employment where he/she is assigned to work under the direction and supervision of another organisation.

The Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 requires that all agency workers must be treated equally in comparison to fixed/permanent workers in respect of pay, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays and the duration of working time.

Several laws oblige employees to protect employees from bullying in the workplace. These include:

Preventing and addressing workplace bullying

Employers are expected to have an anti-bullying policy and established procedures for dealing with complaints of bullying. If an employee complains of bullying, employers are also expected to deal with those complaints promptly.

The Workplace Relations Commission has produced a Code of Practice on Addressing Bullying in the Workplace.

If you are considering a complaint about workplace bullying, or if you are an employer dealing with a complaint about workplace bullying, we recommend that you talk to your solicitor.

Complaining outside the workplace

Employees who feel that their employer has not dealt with their complaint about bullying properly can complain to the Workplace Relations Commission.

You can find out more about the procedure for making a complaint on the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Constructive dismissal and personal injuries

An employee who leaves his or her job because of unbearable bullying can bring a claim of constructive dismissal to the Workplace Relations Commission under unfair dismissals legislation. You can find out more about this under unfair dismissal claims in ending an employment.

If an employee suffers physical or psychological harm from workplace bullying, he or she can bring a claim seeking compensation for personal injuries. 

Employees have a right to leave from work for recreation, recovery from illness, or attending to personal responsibilities.

Three main types of leave are detailed in this section:

Annual leave

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out an employee's annual leave entitlements.

Employees are entitled to a minimum period of:

  • Four weeks annual leave, or
  • 1/3 of a working week per calendar month where the employee works at least 117 hours, or
  • 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave year.

An employee is also entitled to nine public holidays in a year:  

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

Good Friday and Christmas eve are not public holidays. An employee’s contract of employment may also entitle him or her to longer periods of leave.

Leave entitlements

Employees are entitled to their normal weekly rate of pay during their annual leave. If an employee’s pay varies, that employee should receive the average of his or her pay over the 13 weeks before taking leave. You can find out more about annual leave entitlements, and how to calculate annual leave, on the Workplace Relations Commission website.

It is illegal for employers to pay an allowance instead of the minimum statutory annual leave entitlement, except where the employment ends and the employee has earned unused annual leave days. If an employee is leaving a job, the employer should pay him or her for any outstanding annual leave and public holidays.

Taking annual leave

An employer can decide when employees can take annual leave, subject to certain conditions such as the employee’s family responsibilities and opportunities for rest. Employers should also consult with an employee (or the employee’s union) at least one month before that employee should take leave.

In many cases, an employer will have policies allowing employees to request annual leave on days that suit them, subject to giving certain notice. This will usually be outlined in the employee’s contract of employment.

Illness on annual leave

If an employee is ill while on annual leave, these sick days do not count towards the annual leave that he or she has taken. Employees who are sick on annual leave should request a medical certificate from their GP as soon as possible, and provide this to their employer as soon as they return to work.

Annual leave and other leave

Annual leave is not affected by other leave provided for by law. If an employee is on  certified sick leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, force majeure leave or  the first 13 weeks of carer's leave, this time is treated as though he or she has been still working. This time can therefore be used to accumulate an employee’s annual leave entitlement.

Sick leave

Employment law does not guarantee employees a right to be paid while on sick leave. An employee’s contract of employment should set out the terms and conditions of any pay due if he or she is unable to work due to illness or injury. It may also outline the procedures to follow if an employee is sick or injured.

Illness Benefit

If an employee has enough social insurance contributions, he or she can apply for Illness Benefit from the department of Social Protection. If an employee is entitled to sick pay, the employer may require him or her to sign over any Illness Benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection to the employer for as long as the sick pay continues.

The Department of Social Protection has produced a booklet explaining how Illness Benefit is paid, and how to apply.

Medical certificates

If an employee is on sick leave, an employer can require him or her to provide a medical certificate from a GP or family doctor as per the terms of employment. The medical certificate should state the date that an employee is likely to return to work. If an employee is likely to be sick for a while, he or she may have to provide weekly medical certificates.

Injuries at work

If an employee has an accident or are injured at work, he or she can apply for Injury Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. An employee can also claim medical costs that are not paid by the Health Service Executive (HSE) or covered by Treatment Benefit Scheme.

Employees who suffer an injury at work where the employer was at fault can seek compensation. This area of law is called personal injuries. 

Leave for parents

Parents are entitled to the following types of leave:

Adoptive leave

An adoptive mother (or, in the case of a sole adoption, a father) is entitled to 24 weeks of adoptive leave, and a further 16 weeks of unpaid adoptive leave.

Pay during adoptive leave

Employees are not automatically entitled to payment from their employer during adoptive leave. However, their contract of employment may provide for it. Adoptive parents who have made enough PRSI contributions may qualify for Adoptive Benefit from the Department of Social Protection.

Holidays and PRSI credits

Adoptive parents are entitled to pay for public holidays, annual leave entitlement and PRSI credits, while on adoptive leave.

Notice of adoptive leave

Employees must give their employers at least four weeks’ notice of their intention to take adoptive leave. They must also give employers the expected date of the placement as soon as is reasonably practicable. Adoptive parents who wish to take an additional 16 weeks of unpaid adoptive leave must also give at least four weeks’ notice of this decision to their employer. This notice can be given at the same time as the initial notice of adoptive leave.

Returning to work

Adoptive parents must give their employer four weeks’ notice when they intend to return to work. Adoptive parents are entitled to return to the same job that they held immediately before taking leave. If this is not possible, an employer must offer an adoptive parent a suitable and appropriate alternative.

For more information, download a Guide to Adoptive Leave from the Workplace Relations Commission.

Maternity and Paternity leave

If an employee is pregnant while employed, she is entitled to take maternity leave.

All female employees can take maternity leave, regardless of how many hours they work per week and how long they have been working. Employees are also entitled to take additional unpaid maternity leave.

How much leave

Mothers are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave, and 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave.

At least two weeks of this leave must be taken before the expected birth date, and at least four weeks must be taken after this date. It is up to employees to decide how they would like to take the remaining leave.

Payment during maternity leave and Maternity Benefit

Employers are not obliged to pay employees on maternity leave, but some will. An employee's contract of employment should state what pay she is entitled to while on maternity leave.

Employees may qualify for Maternity Benefit. This is a Department of Social Protection payment given to employees who have sufficient PRSI contributions. Employees are automatically awarded PRSI credits while getting Maternity Benefit.

Additional maternity leave

An employee can choose to take an additional 16 weeks of maternity leave immediately after her 26-week maternity leave period. However, this is not covered by Maternity Benefit. Employers do not have to pay employees during this period unless it was previously agreed that they would do so.

Stillbirths and miscarriages

If an employee has a stillbirth or miscarriage after her 24th week of pregnancy, she is entitled to take her full maternity leave. To apply for Maternity Benefit following a stillbirth or miscarriage, an employee should provide a letter from her doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form, confirming the expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the number of weeks of pregnancy.

Health and safety

Employers should carry out separate risk assessments regarding pregnant employees and employees who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

If an employer identifies particular risks to these employees, the risks should be removed or the employee should be moved away from them.

If neither of these options is possible, an employer should give the employee health and safety leave from work, which can continue up to the beginning of maternity leave. Employers must pay employees their normal wages for the first three weeks of health and safety leave. After this, the employee may be entitled to Health and Safety Benefit.

Notice of maternity Leave

Employees must give employers at least four weeks of written notice of their intention to take maternity leave, and provide a medical certificate confirming their pregnancy.

Employees who intend to take an additional 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave must provide at least four weeks of written notice. This notice can be given at the same time as the initial notice of maternity leave.

If an employee's baby is born more than four weeks before the due date, she can give the employer written notice within 14 days of the birth to satisfy these requirements.

Employees must give their employer at least four weeks of written notice before they intend to return to work.

Returning to work

After completing maternity leave, employees are entitled to return to work to the same job with the same contract of employment.

If an employer cannot reasonably allow an employee to return to their job after maternity leave, the employer must provide suitable alternative work. This new position should not be on substantially less favourable terms than those of her previous job.

Otherwise, employees must be treated as if they had been at work during their maternity leave. Time spent on maternity leave (including additional maternity leave) is treated as though an employee had been in employment, and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave.

If an employee decides not to return to work after maternity leave, she must give her employee notice in the usual manner.

Paternity Leave

Parents who are not the biological mother of a child can take two weeks paternity leave. This type of leave was recently introduced under the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016. Those entitled to this leave include:

  • The father of the child.
  • The spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother of the child.
  • The parent of a donor-conceived child.

In the case of an adopted child, the relevant parent includes:

  • The nominated parent in the case of a married same-sex couple.
  • The spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting mother or sole male adopter.

This leave extends to employees regardless of how long they have been working for the organisation or the number of hours worked per week. Employers are not obliged to pay employees who are on paternity leave. Parents with sufficient PRSI contributions may qualify for Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. 

Parental leave

Parents, or people acting in the role of parents, can take unpaid parental leave to care for children.

How much leave

Employees can take up to 18 weeks of total leave per child. Unless their employer agrees, parents of more than one child can take no more than 18 weeks of leave in a given year.

Eligibility for parental leave

An employee claiming parental leave can only do so to care for a child under the age of eight, or under the age of 16 if a child has a long-term illness.

An employee must normally have been working for an employer for at least a year before taking parental leave. If an employee’s child is very near the age threshold, and the employee has been working for an employer for between three months and a year, he or she can claim parental leave on a pro-rata basis.

Notice of parental leave

Employees must give at least six weeks’ written notice to their employer if they plan to take parental leave. This notice should be in writing, stating the starting date for the parental leave and how long the leave will last. After giving notice, an employee will have to sign a confirmation document setting out the details of the leave.

Records of parental leave

Employers must keep records of all parental leave taken by employees for eight years. Employers who fail to do this are liable for fines of up to €2000.

Returning to work

After parental leave, an employee is entitled to return to the same job as he or she had before taking leave. If this cannot be done, an employer must offer a suitable alternative.

Employees who have on parental leave are treated as if they are currently working for employment rights purposes.

For more information on parental leave, download the Workplace Relations Commission Guide to the Parental Leave Acts.

An employment relationship ends in one of three ways:

  • When an employee decides to leave the company. This is called resignation.
  • When an employer decides to end the employment. This is called dismissal.
  • When an employee reaches an age where their employment automatically ends, or they choose to stop working. This is called retirement.

Whenever an employee is leaving a job, an employer must provide him or her with a P45, pension information, and any outstanding pay.

Resignation

When an employee wishes to leave his or her job, he or she should inform the employer in writing.

Notice of resignation

An employee’s contract of employment may set out the minimum notice period that the employer expects.

If an employee’s contract of employment does not specify a minimum notice period, and the employment has lasted at least 13 weeks, the employer is entitled to one week’s notice.

An employer may choose to pay an employee for his or her notice period without that employee working. This is called payment in lieu of notice.

An employee cannot retract his or her notice of resignation unless the employer also agrees.

Constructive dismissal

If an employee resigns because of his or her employer’s unreasonable behaviour, that employee may be able to claim that an unfair dismissal has taken place. This is called constructive dismissal. An employee making a claim of constructive dismissal will have to show that the employer behaved in such a way that his or her resignation was justified. For information on making a claim of constructive dismissal, see unfair dismissals.

Dismissal

Employers are expected to follow fair procedures if they no longer wish to employ a person. If you believe that your employer did not follow these procedures, or if you are an employer in need of advice on these procedures, we recommend that you talk to your solicitor.

In many cases, an employee’s contract of employment will set out the type of situation that could lead to his or her dismissal. This might include a policy on absences due to illness, or procedure for investigating discipline issues.

An employer dismissing an employee must give one of the following reasons:

Employees have legal rights to protect them from discrimination or unfair procedures. For more information. For information about this, see unfair dismissals.

Employers should give employees notice of their dismissal, or payment in lieu of this, and the employee's P45, pension information, and outstanding pay

Capability

If an employee is consistently late or absent from work, this can be grounds for dismissal. This is usually divided into three types of absence:

  • Absence or lateness for non-medical reasons.
  • Frequent absences for short-term illness.
  • Long-term illness.

An employer dismissing an employee for frequent non-medical absences or lateness should have records of this absence. This could include clocking-in records, or documentary proof of absence that was not medically certified. An employer should make the employee aware of the problem, and warn him or her about the potential consequences.

If an employee is often absent from work due for short periods to a medical condition, and an employer dismisses him or her, this is usually called dismissal related to short term illness. In this situation, an employer should show that the absence is frequent, that it is causing problems, and that the situation is unlikely to get better. The employer should have also warned the employee that he or she could be dismissed.

If an employee is absent from work for a long time due to a medical condition, an employer must obtain detailed medical evidence before dismissing him or her. This evidence should show that the employee is unlikely to return to work soon. An employer can require an employee who is absent due to illness to attend a particular doctor.

An employee’s and employer’s doctors may disagree on when an employee is likely to return to work. In this case, the employer is expected to obtain a second opinion before dismissing the employee.

Competence

If an employer feels that an employee is not meeting the standards expected for a job, he or she may be dismissed.

However, employers should make employees aware of the standards expected of them, and these standards must refer to the job that the employee was hired to do.

If an employee is falling short of the required standard, the employer must explain this to him or her clearly through a formal procedure. The employer must specify any improvements that are necessary. These improvements should be realistic, and the employer should allow a reasonable timeframe for the improvement. An employer should give an employee a final warning, explaining that dismissal is likely, before dismissing an employee on grounds of competence.

Qualifications

If an employee misled an employer about his or her qualifications, that employee can be dismissed.

An employer can also make continued employment conditional of obtaining further qualifications. If an employer has given an employee a reasonable opportunity to do this, and he or she has not obtained the qualification(s), he or she can be dismissed.

Conduct

Dismissals on grounds of conduct can cover a wide range of behaviour, from small incidents to obvious cases of gross misconduct.

If an employee has committed gross misconduct, he or she can be dismissed instantly and without notice. Assault, theft, and a serious breach of an employer’s policies are common examples of gross misconduct. However, an employee’s contract of employment may set out more information on what the employer considers to be gross misconduct.

Several cases of less serious misconduct can justify an employee’s dismissal. In this case, an employer should have given an employee appropriate warnings about his or her conduct, and warned the employee that he or she could be dismissed.

According to the Workplace Relations Commission, employers should have should have written grievance and disciplinary procedures, and give copies of these to employees at the start of their employment. For more information, see the Workplace Relations Commission Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

Redundancy

When an employer is closing a business, or if the business is changing so that the employee’s work is no longer required, this is called redundancy.

Employers have to follow certain procedures when making an employee redundant. This includes:

  • Selecting employees for redundancy using fair procedures.
  • Considering alternatives to making an employee redundant.
  • Giving notice of redundancy.
  • Paying employees their redundancy entitlements.

Fair selection procedures

Employers can apply different criteria when selecting an employee for redundancy. For example, this could be based on a practice of ‘last in – first out’, or an evaluation of each employee’s skills.

If an employee claims that the procedures used to select them for redundancy were unfair, and pursues an unfair dismissal claim with the Workplace Relations Commission, the employer will have to demonstrate that fair procedures were followed.

Considering alternatives

Employers are expected to act reasonably when dismissing an employee. This includes consulting with the employee before deciding to make them redundant.

In a redundancy situation, employers are expected to consider all the available options, including offering alternative work to an employee.

If an employer is offering alternative work to an employee, the offer should be given in writing and the employer should provide all the relevant information on the offer.

If an employee refuses a reasonable offer of alternative work, he or she may no longer be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. A reasonable offer is typically one that does not involve:

  • Travelling an unreasonable distance to work.
  • A loss of status.
  • A worsening of an employee’s terms and conditions.

An employee can take up an offer of alternative work on trial for up to four weeks.

Redundancy entitlements

If an employee’s role is being made redundant, he or she may be entitled to an additional payment.

In some cases, an employee’s contract of employment will set out the redundancy payment that he or she should receive. However, the law sets out minimum statutory redundancy payments for employees.

To qualify for a statutory redundancy payment, an employee must have worked continuously for an employer (while over the age of 16) for at least 104 weeks. If an employee is eligible, he or she should receive two weeks’ pay for every year of service over the age of 16, and one week’s further pay. This is subject to a maximum limit of €600 per week.

The Department of Social Protection has produced a redundancy calculator to help employees and employers calculate statutory redundancy entitlements.

Contravening the law

If continuing to employ a person would contravene the law, an employee can dismiss that employee. For example, if a person is employed as a driver for a company, but his or her driving license has been suspended, that employee cannot work without breaking the law.

Employers are expected to consider alternatives to dismissal depending on the facts of the case.

Other substantial grounds

If an employee is making a complaint about a dismissal under unfair dismissals legislation, and the employer is not citing any of the grounds above, then the employer will have to show that there were other substantial grounds that justified the dismissal.

Notice of dismissal

When an employer is dismissing an employee, he or she may be entitled to notice. A contract of employment may set out the notice that an employee is entitled to. However, the law sets out a minimum entitlement for employees, depending on how long the employment has lasted. This is shown in the table below:

Duration of employment

Minimum notice due

Less than 13 weeks

None

13 weeks to two years

One week

Two years to five years

Two weeks

Five years to 10 years

Four weeks

10 years to 15 years

Six weeks

15 years or more

Eight weeks

An employer can require an employee to work through the notice period, or offer payment in lieu of notice. This means that an employee will not have to work for the period between receiving notice and the employment officially ending, but he or she will be paid as if they are working during this time.  

If an employee is being dismissed for gross misconduct, he or she may not be entitled to notice of dismissal.

Unfair dismissal

The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015 protect employees from being dismissed without cause.

Unfair dismissal claims

The Workplace Relations Commission assesses claims of unfair dismissal by employees. To make a claim of unfair dismissal, an employee must:

  • Have been an employee.
  • Have been dismissed, or have resigned because the employer’s conduct forced them to. This is called constructive dismissal.
  • Have had at least 12 months of continuous service with the employer. This is not needed if an employee was dismissed for:
    • Any matters connected with pregnancy or birth.
    • Trade union membership or activity.
    • Making a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.
    • Availing of rights under the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005, the Carer's Leave Act 2001, the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, or the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006.
  • Bring the claim within six months of the dismissal, or have had ‘reasonable cause’ for the delay.

If an employee qualifies to bring a claim, an adjudicator will hold a hearing on the issue and decide on the appropriate solution. The employer will have to show that the employee was dismissed under fair grounds. Constructive dismissal is an exception to this: if an employee is claiming constructive dismissal, he or she will have to show that their resignation was justified.

Certain reasons for dismissal are always considered to be unfair. There are:

  • Availing of rights to maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer's leave, parental or force majeure leave.
  • Legal proceedings against an employer where an employee is a party or a witness.
  • Making a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.
  • Membership (or potential membership) of a trade union, or engaging in trade union activities.
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth.
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age or membership of the Traveller community.
  • Religious or political opinions.
  • Unfair selection for redundancy.

Redress for unfair dismissal

If the adjudicator decides that an unfair dismissal has taken place, he or she will recommend redress for unfair dismissal.

In some cases, the adjudicator will decide that the employee should get his or her job back, either from the date of dismissal, or from a set date. However, adjudicators are more likely to award compensation for financial loss.

In most cases, the maximum compensation for financial loss suffered by an employee is two years’ pay. An adjudicator may award up to five years’ pay to an employee who was dismissed for making a protected disclosure.

Employees or employers can appeal the decision of an adjudicator appointed by the Workplace Relations Commission to the Labour Court. Either party can appeal decisions of the Labour Court to the High Court, but only on a point of law.

If you have any questions about the unfair dismissals process, we recommend that you talk to your solicitor.

Retirement

There is no set retirement age under law for employees. However, an employee’s contract of employment may set out a mandatory retirement age, and provide for early retirement.

Mandatory Retirement

If an employee’s contract of employment states that the employment automatically ends once he or she reaches a certain age, this is called a mandatory retirement age. Employers are allowed to set a mandatory retirement age, provided it is objectively justified.

This age can vary depending on the type of employment. For example, for people who joined the public service after 1 January 2013 the minimum retirement age is 66, while the mandatory retirement age is 70. However, occupations such as the Gardaí and the Defence Forces provide for earlier retirement.

Early Retirement

Aside from a mandatory retirement date, an employee’s contract of employment may set out procedures for early retirement. This is particularly relevant if an employee is entitled to pension benefits from his or her employer.

Employees considering early retirement should consult their contract of employment carefully, and research their rights to any state benefits.

P45, pension information, and outstanding pay

When any employment is ending, an employer should provide the following information and payment to the employee who is leaving:

P45

A P45 is a statement of the employee’s pay to date and the tax, Universal Social Charge (USC) and PRSI that the employer has deducted.

Employees need this to:

  • Avoid paying emergency tax when starting a new job.
  • Claim a tax refund or social welfare benefits.

The date on the P45 is the date that the employee physically left the job.

If you have left your job, and your employer did not give you a P45, you should first ask your employer for it. If the employer does not supply it, contact your tax office. Revenue will then contact the employer and obtain the P45.

Pension Information

If an employee is a member of a company pension scheme, the employer should provide him or her with information on his or her pension entitlements.

Outstanding pay

When any employee is leaving, the employer should pay him or her for:

  • Work that the employee has done to date.
  • Any annual leave days that the employee has earned but not taken.
  • Payment in lieu (if applicable) for the notice period that the employee is entitled to.