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03. Working Conditions

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Ireland

03. Working Conditions

Minimum Working Conditions

Employees have certain entitlements regarding their minimum working conditions under a wide range of statutes in Ireland including (i) the right to receive a written statement of certain key terms and conditions of employment (see Minimum Requirements); (ii) the right to receive the national minimum wage (see below); (iii) a restriction on weekly working hours (as below); (iv) the right to statutory minimum annual leave and public holidays (see Holidays and Annual Leave); and (v) the right to various forms of family and other leave (subject to satisfying the relevant statutory criteria) (see Required Leave).

Employers have extensive obligations, both under statute and common law, to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of their employees (see Health and Safety in the Workplace).

Salary

The National Minimum Wage Act 2000 (as amended) provides for a national minimum hourly rate of pay.  Minimum wage rates are based on the age of the employee and not on any previous work experience or training.  The current rate, for employees aged 20 and over, is €11.30 per hour.  Lower rates are payable to employees under the age of 18 (currently €7.91), where an employee is aged 18 (currently €9.04) or aged 19 (currently €10.17).

Minimum wage can consist of basic salary, shift premiums, commissions and productivity related bonuses.  Where an employer provides food or accommodation, an amount of money in respect of these conditions can be included when calculating the employee’s minimum wage.

Certain sectors such as catering, retail and the security industry have agreed particular rates and conditions of employment over and above the minimum wage and minimum statutory entitlements which are set out in collective agreements approved by the Labour Court.

In general, employers may only make deductions from salary/wages if the deduction is (a) required or authorised by law (e.g. PAYE or PRSI); (b) authorised by a term of the employee’s contract (e.g. pension contributions) or (c) agreed in writing in advance by the employee (e.g. health insurance subscription).

Employers are obliged to arrange for a written statement of wages (a ‘pay slip’) to be given to employees with every payment of wages.  Every payslip must show the gross amount of wages payable to the employee and itemise the nature and amount of each deduction.  If wages are paid by credit transfer, the payslip should be given to the employee as soon as possible after the credit transfer has taken place.  In all other cases, the payslip must accompany the wage payment.

Employees are entitled to equal pay for ‘like work’ (i.e. work that is the same, similar or work of equal value) to another comparable employee (see Pay and Equity Laws).

Maximum Working Week

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (as amended) regulates working hours for employees.  With limited exceptions, an employee may not work more than a maximum average of 48 working hours in each period of seven days.  This average is calculated over a reference period of four months, which may be increased to a period of six months in certain limited circumstances.  Employees cannot generally opt-out of the 48-hour average working week.  The legislation contains a limited exception for senior or specialist employees who determine their own hours of work.  The contracts of such employees should include specific reference to this exception.

Overtime

There is no set rate of pay regarding overtime in Ireland but, where overtime is required, at least the national minimum wage rate above must be paid. The contract of employment normally sets out any applicable overtime rate. Overtime rates may also be governed by collective agreements approved by the Labour Court.

Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace

Employers also have a duty under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005-2014 to provide for the safety, health and welfare of their employees at work. This includes obligations to provide a safe workplace, a safe system of work, and safe plant, machinery and equipment in so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must appoint at least one “competent person” to be responsible for the health and safety matters in the workplace. The “competent person” must be allowed adequate time, without loss of remuneration, to enable him/her to perform their functions.

Employers are also obliged to prepare a ‘safety statement’.  This is a detailed report setting out how the employer intends to secure the safety, health and welfare of their employees in the workplace and is based on the hazards identified in a risk assessment carried out by the employer. These obligations apply irrespective of whether the employee works from an office and/or from home.

Compliance with health and safety is regulated in Ireland by the Health and Safety Authority.

Complaint Procedures

All complaints about workplace safety, health and welfare issues should be raised with the employer/health and safety officer in the first instance.  In the absence of a satisfactory response or the employer does not address the issue, a complaint can be made by the employee to the Health and Safety Authority.

Protection from Retaliation

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005-2014, an employer cannot dismiss, penalise (i.e. suspend, demote, transfer of duties, intimidate, etc.) or threaten to penalise an employee for making a complaint about health, safety or welfare at work.  If an employee is dismissed by reason of having made a health and safety complaint, he/she can seek recourse under either the Unfair Dismissals Acts or the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005-2014, but not both pieces of legislation.

The Protected Disclosures Act also provides protection for workers who have made a ‘protected disclosure’ described as a ‘relevant wrongdoing’ (which includes, among other things, an issue regarding health and safety at work).  The legislation provides protection from dismissal, penalisation or threats of penalisation by reason of having made a protected disclosure.

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