Working Time

Working Hours

The working time legislation is based on the relevant EU directives. It applies generally except for certain limited sectors including

  • doctors in training
  • persons  engaged in sea fishing
  • persons employed in civil protection services
  • persons who control their own working hours
  • persons employed by a close relative of the dwellinghouse farm in which both reside

Certain groups were originally excluded but have been included o broadly the same terms by regulations. These include transport workers including those involved in mobile road transport and civil aviation.

The maximum average working week is 48 hours. The averaging may be over a four, six or twelve month period. The general period of averaging is four months. Two months applies to night workers. Six months applies to workers subject to seasonality or where employees are directly involved in ensuring continuity of service or production. Shorter and different working hours apply to young persons under 18 years of age

Night Work

Night-time work the purposes of the working time legislation is work between midnight and 7 am the following day. Night workers who normally work at least three hours of their daily working time during night time and annual hours worked night is at least half of the working time.

The maximum night-time working hours is eight hours per night averaged over two months or a longer period where permitted by a collective agreement approved by the Labour Court. Where night workers are involved in special hazards heavy physical or mental strain there is a limit of eight hours in a 24 hour period during which they may perform night-time work.

Breaks and Rests

Employees have rights to daily and weekly rests. The must be a 15-minute rest break where more than four hours 20 minutes have been worked. The break must be 30 minutes where more than six hours have been worked which may include the first break.

The daily rest period is at least 11 consecutive hours’ daily rest in every 24-hour period. The weekly rest period requires that there be at least 24 hours rest per week preceded by a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours.

Employees in shops who work more than four hours including the hours 11:30 am to 2:30 pm must be permitted a break of at least one hour commencing between those hours.

Rest periods can be varied by collective agreements.

Working time is working time exclusive of breaks standby, time on-call time. working time is when the employee is at his or her place of work or at the disposal of the employer and carrying out duties and activities of his employment.


There are exceptions rest provisions further are exceptional unusual or unforeseeable circumstances. The must be compensatory equivalent rest.

There are exemptions from daily and weekly rest period requirements for shift workers when they change shift or workers on little shifts. Equivalent compensatory rest must be afforded within a reasonable time.

Exemptions may be provided by ministerial regulations provided equivalent compensatory rest is permitted. In limited circumstances in civil protection services, there are exemptions from rest and maximum working week provisions without provision for equivalent compensatory rest.

Businesses in sectors may be exempted by a collective agreement approved by the Labour Court. Equivalent compensatory rest periods must be provided.


Holiday pay accrues against time worked.  All employees including full-time part-time temporary and casual employees are entitled to holiday leave. Generally, employees are entitled to 4 weeks annual holidays per year. This is prorated for periods of employment of less than a year. In the case of an employee who works a standard five-day week, this is 1.66 days per month or 20 days.

An employee is entitled to holidays in accordance with one of the following methods of calculation.

  • an employee is entitled to four working weeks in the leave year in which here she has worked at least 1365 hours unless it is a leave year in which he or she changes employment.
  • an employee is entitled to one-third of the working week per calendar month provided the employee worked at least 117 hours.
  • an employee is entitled to 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave year subject to a maximum of four working weeks

Annual leave is to be determined by the employer having regard to work requirements taking into account the employees needs to reconcile work and family responsibilities and the opportunities for rest and recreation available to the employee.

Employees concerned or the trade union are to be consulted at least one month in advance of the date selected by the employer. The annual leave must be taken within the leave year to which it relates or with consent within six months of the following leave year.

Where an employee is absent due to certified absence unable to take all or part of the leave year during the period of six months,  this may be taken within 15 months of the end of that leave year.

Pay for annual leave must be paid in advance calculated at the normal weekly rate. Where an employee ceases employment with an accrued holiday entitlement, pay must be given in in lieu of the holiday leave that has not been taken.

There are a number of public holidays

  • 1st January (New Year’s Day
  • 17th March (St Patrick’s Day)
  • Easter Monday
  • the first Monday in May
  • the first Monday in June
  • the first Monday in August
  • the last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day
  • 26th December (St Stephen’s Day)

Holiday Pay

An employee is entitled to a paid day off on holiday. Alternatively, he is entitled to a paid day off within a month or next two days annual leave or extra days pay as determined by the employer.

If the public holiday is on the day on which the employee normally works, then the employee is entitled to a paid day off or an additional day paid day off within a month or an additional day of paid annual leave. If the public holiday is on a day on which the employee does not normally work then the employee is entitled to a fifth of his normal weekly wage.

Part-time employees qualify for public holidays entitlement if they work at least 40 hours during the five weeks before the public holiday.

Employees are usually entitled to take time off in lieu or receive a premium payment for working on Sundays. If not already determined the premium is measured by reference to a comparable employee in a collective agreement in a similar industry or sector. The premium may be by way of an allowance, paid time off, increased pay or a combination


Working time legislation requires employers to maintain records which must be retained for  3 years in relation to compliance. A statement must be provided to each employee upon commencement of employment or variation of terms of employment in relation to holiday and working time entitlements.

Complaints under the legislation may be taken to the Workplace Relations Commission. Compliance is also undertaken under the general WRC inspection enforcement and compliance provisions.