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Employment law

Not something you’ve given much thought to? Understandable.

However, if you’re finished school and heading into the world of work, it’s always good to know what your rights are and how to protect them.

This way, if you’re ever concerned about something or think that your employer might not be playing by the rules, you’ll know where you stand.

Under 18 years-old?

To have a regular, full-time job the minimum age is generally 16 years-old. If you’re 14 years-old you can get a summer job and if 15 years-old, you can get part-time work.

  • From 16-18-years-old, you are only allowed to work up to 40 hours a week, or eight hours a day, except for in an emergency
  • You are only allowed to work after 6 am and finish at 10 pm on a school-night or 11 pm on a weekend/if you’re not in school
  • You are entitled to a half an hour break every four hours if you are under 16, and half an hour for every four and a half hours if you are 16 years-old or older.
  • You are entitled to two days off in every seven days.

The minimum wage for people under 18-years-old is €6.06 an hour, which is 70% of the adult minimum wage. Your employer might pay you the full adult minimum, but they don’t have to.

Over 18 years-old?

Now, employment law is a big topic and we can’t cover every detail of it here. However, what we can do is highlight important points and direct you to citizen’s information for getting any further information.

This is a site run by the National Employment Rights Authority and is the best place to visit if you have any questions.

It’s also important to note that employment law is something that changes a fair bit, and especially at the moment, so keep your ears open.

Your contract

All jobs are a bit different, but whatever the job, you’re entitled to know what your role is. You are entitled to see a written job title, a description of your duties, and whether or not your job is temporary or permanent. You’re entitled to know what you’re going to be paid, and if there’s a set finishing date.

Minimum wage

The minimum wage for people over 18 years-old increases in three steps:

  1. In your first year of working after turning 18-years-old (part-time and summer work included), the minimum wage is €6.92 per hour
  2. In your second year, it increases to €7.79 per hour
  3. You then qualify for the full adult minimum wage of €8.65 per hour.

There are some exceptions to this;  if you’re working for a family member or doing an internship type placement where there’s training involved.

Working hours

The standard maximum working week is 48 hours. You are entitled to at least one day off a week, and breaks every day depending on how long your shift is.

Annual leave

This one really is dependent on the hours you work each week. If you work part-time, you’re entitled to fewer days off for annual leave than if you work full-time.

If you’re in a full-time job, you’re entitled to at least four weeks annual leave in the year. If you’re working part-time, you are entitled to 8% (not the easiest percentage to work out) of the hours you work in annual leave.

You’re also entitled to public holidays off, or if you have to work, to a day off in lieu or to be paid for an extra day.

Giving notice

If you want to leave your job, you’re usually obliged to inform your employer before you leave. The amount of notice you’ve to give will depend on whether or not you have a written contract and what that contract says.

If you haven’t got a contract, you are only obliged to give one week’s notice. If you’ve signed a contract, you might have agreed to a month’s notice.

In terms of your employer letting you go, they are also obliged to give you notice. Again this might depend on your contract if you have one. But, there are general rules that apply to this, depending on how long you’ve been in the job:

  • 13 weeks but less than two years service = one week’s notice
  • Two years but less than five years = two weeks ‘ notice
  • Five years but less than 10 years = four weeks’ notice
  • Ten years but less than 15 years = six weeks’ notice
  • More than fifteen years = eight weeks’ notice.

Sometimes an employer will offer or agree just to pay you for this period of time instead of you actually working, and that’s ok.

Dismissal (getting fired)

Hopefully this is something you won’t have to deal with, but it can happen to the best of us! You can be fired for a number of reasons – not completing your duties, misconduct, breaching regulations of the job, or being made redundant because of something like cut backs or the business closing down.

There are some reasons for getting fired, however, that are considered to be unjustified. This is known as unfair dismissal, and is quite a big deal that people can end up going to court over.

Reasons that are considered to be unfair include: being a member of a union, being pregnant, your entitlements to wages or leave.  For more details on this check out If you’re worried about a situation, visit for legal advice.

Getting fired can be a pretty stressful experience, so if it’s happened to you, make sure you take care of yourself and get some support. Check out minding your mental health.

Tax stuff

Your employer will usually ask for your P45 to sort out your tax issues, if you don’t have one you can check out For most jobs your employer will take things from here, and your tax will be deducted from your wages.

Before you get it sorted you’ll be charged something called Emergency Tax. It’s much higher than the normal rate and  will be refunded eventually, but it’s obviously good to stop paying that as soon as possible, so get your P45 to your employer quick sharp!

Your rights

There’s lots of other issues or situations you might need to know about that aren’t covered here. Hopefully, this is a good starting point, and it all doesn’t seem so daunting. Check out Youth Connect, or for more.

This article was last reviewed on 07 August 2018

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