Understanding Irish Employment Law from a Risk and Compliance Perspective

Irish employment law has become more complex over the years thanks to new legislation and requirements. If the European country is on your list of target markets, you’ll need a dedicated team member, or global expansion partner, to help your company manage compliance. The goal of an overseas expansion is to avoid fines and penalties, especially in regards to employment law.


One of our specialties is helping companies manage compliance while hiring international team members. As a result, we put together some best practices to help your company understand current labor laws in Ireland. All while staying compliant and avoiding headaches during overseas expansion.

As with any article of this nature, our advice is meant to be taken as just that - advice. We recommend working with an attorney or Irish employment law expert to make firm legal decisions about your global strategy.

Irish Employment Law: Tip #1 - Developing Employment Contracts

After you establish a legal presence in Ireland, either through a foreign subsidiary or International PEO, you can start hiring employees. Each employee must receive a written agreement stating the terms and conditions of their employment within two weeks of their start date.

There are specific provisions that must be met according to Ireland’s Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 to 2014.

For example, any specifics to the job, such as salary, intellectual property (IP) protection (we’ll explain this next), and non-disclosure of confidential information must be laid out specifically in the written agreement.

Check with an in-country expert to make sure that your contract meets all of the country’s requirements before your employee signs off. It’s important to note that if an employment dispute happens to end up in court, many international authorities will disregard employment contracts and simply follow the labor laws. Thus, another reason why partnering with a local expert keeps your team on track to avoid issues.

Irish Employment Law: Tip #2 - Protect Your Company’s IP

In Irish employment law, matters such as IP are not specifically addressed, which leaves your company initially unprotected.

To avoid potential IP lawsuits, especially when working with independent contractors, be sure to have concise language regarding the protection of your firm’s IP.

For example, when an employee, or contractor, makes a discovery or creates something of value during the scope of their employment, that discovery should be the property of the employer. Without language explaining this in your agreement, the employee could argue that they own the intangible assets. Avoid disputes by addressing IP upfront.

Irish Employment Law: Tip #3 - Understand Entitlements

In every country, your firm will need to pay attention to entitlements and employee benefits. Every country has different rules for employment. In Ireland, there are many protections for employees including paid time off, health benefits, pensions, and social security.

For example, the Maternity Protection Act 1994 and 2004 requires employers to provide new mothers with a minimum maternity leave of 26 weeks along with an option for an additional 16 weeks unpaid leave.

Understand the requirements in Ireland before hiring team members in order to avoid penalties, and more importantly, unhappy employees. In fact, we suggest going above and beyond the basic entitlements by offering supplemental benefits to attract top talent in-country. Learn more about those benefits here.

Irish Employment Law: Tip #4 - You Can’t Fire At-Will

Termination notices are very different in international markets compared to the U.S. The reason - “at-will” employment simply doesn’t exist overseas.

In Irish employment law, the Minimum Notice & Terms of Employment Acts 1973-2005 sets minimum notice periods ranging from one week to up to eight weeks, depending on the length of employment. If you ignore the termination requirements, you’ll likely owe severance payments and additional fines to your former team members.

For more information on international termination notices, check out this post.

Irish Employment Law: Tip #5 - Hiring Foreign Nationals

According to EU law, your company can hire a foreign national from any EEA state or Switzerland without them obtaining a work permit. Employees coming to Ireland from other countries, such as the U.S., need to obtain a work permit based on the offer of employment. In Ireland, workers can stay on a permit for two years. Renewals are good for up to three years. After five years there may no longer be a need for a work permit.

A service like International PEO, which we mentioned above, can also help you obtain work permits for your foreign nationals and expats.

To learn more about this employer of record service, contact our team today!

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