Wages Laws

The duty to pay wages is fundamental. If an employer fails to pay wages, the employee may complain to the Workplace Relations Commission or to the courts. The failure to pay wages may be a fundamental breach of contract which may constitute unfair dismissal in some cases. However, preemptive resignation by the employee is not necessarily justified.

Employees must be paid on average not less than the national minimum wage. This is a national minimum hourly rate of pay prescribed from time to time by the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. The Minister acts on the basis of recommendations from the Low Pay Commission which is made up of various sectoral interests of employers and employees with an independent chairman.

In a very small number of sectors,  there are Employment Regulation Orders, Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment Orders which have the force of law. They may provide for a wage rate and terms and conditions of employment in excess of the national minimum wage.


Deductions may not be permitted from wages unless required by law such as tax provided for in a contract of employment or specific justifiable reasons made with the written consent of the employee

There are restrictions on contracts to make deductions from wages arising from an act or omission of an employee or in respect of the supply to the employee by the employer of goods or services that are necessary to the employment

The above types of deduction must be authorised under an employment a contract term governing the deduction prior to it occurring.. The employee must be given in advance written details of the terms which provides for the deduction.

Where the deduction is related to an act or omission of the employee, the employee must be given particulars in writing of it and the amount of deduction at least one week prior to the deduction being made.

National Minimum Wage

The national minimum wage applies to all employees including full-time part-time temporary and casual employees. There are exceptions for

  • close relatives of the employer
  • apprentices and trainees under formal apprenticeships
  • non-commercial work

An experienced adult worker must be paid an average hourly rate not less than the national minimum wage in each pay reference period. This may be a week but generally no longer than a month. An experienced adult is defined as a person who is not

  • under 18 years or
  • in the first two years after the date of first employment over 18 or
  • a trainee in a course satisfying certain conditions

The gross pay is the pay in the reference period divided by the number of working hours in that period. The average must be not less than the prescribed minimum wage. The minimum wage is the gross amount prior to the deduction of tax social insurance and universal social charge.

The working hours for the purpose of computation of the national minimum wage includes overtime worked in the period spent on standby in the workplace and training time during normal working hours. Working hours for this purpose do not include time absent from work on annual leave, sick leave, protective leave, parental leave, period on strike, pay in lieu of notice period.

Reckonable pay is payment and certain limited defined types of benefits in kind. Most benefits in kind are not reckonable for this purpose. Trainee rates may be payable in respect of certain courses which satisfy criteria. An experienced adult is entitled to 100% of the national minimum rate of pay per hour. An employee under 18 is entitled to 70% of the national minimum rate of pay per hour.

Younger Workers

Employees in the first year of employment after the date of first employment over 18 years are entitled to 80% of the national minimum rate of pay per hour. Employees in a training course over 18 undertaken in normal  working hours are entitled respectively

  • during the first one-third period 75%
  • during the second one-third period 80%
  • during the third one-third period 90%

The Labour Court may grant temporary exemptions to an employer from paying the national minimum wage for three months and up to a maximum period of 12 months where there are exceptional circumstances which justify or necessitate it.


Employers must maintain records necessary to prove compliance with the legislation for at least two years. They must be kept at the premises or the principal place from which the activities of the employee are directed where the employee works at more than one premises.

The legislation generally may be enforced by the Workplace Relations Commission. Failure to pay the national minimum wage is an offence which may be the subject of administrative enforcement or prosecution in the courts.

The position in relation to overtime is determined contractually or by collective agreement. In some sectors and employment regulation order registered employment agreement may apply to regulate overtime pay.

The statement of employment terms at the commencement of employment is to include particulars of hours of work including overtime and any overtime pay.

An employer must give each employee with every payment, a written statement of gross wages itemising each deduction. Failure to do so is an offence and may be the subject of a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.

No Statutory Sick Pay

There is no statutory scheme of sick pay nor a sick pay requirement under Irish legislation. Sick pay may be provided for in the contract of employment or other collective agreement. If there is sick pay this is to be notified as part of the terms of employment at the outset of employment.

Where sick pay is due but unpaid,  it may be the subject of a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under general legislation.

Zero Hours

Employees are entitled to be paid for 25% of the time for which they are required to be available or 15 hours whichever is less . This so-called zero hour provision is not applicable to layoffs emergency or exceptional circumstances, short time employee illness or employee on-call arrangements.