IES Blog

Thinking of Sourcing Talent From Ireland? Get to Know Ireland’s Labor Laws First

Posted on November 1st, 2023 Read time: 4 minutes

Photo of Dublin Bridge in Ireland

Over the last few years, the number of companies making the decision to hire internationally has grown exponentially. For many, the reason comes down to money. Companies can often save on payroll while still hiring qualified talent at a fair wage when sourcing overseas. Others go this route as a means of expanding their talent pools. Without geographic restrictions, it becomes much easier to find skilled candidates — even for hard-to-fill roles. Then, there are companies that make the move in an effort to bring in a more diverse knowledge base, gain new perspectives, or test out a new market before establishing a business entity in a given country.

Regardless of the reason, it’s critical to understand that a number of barriers can come with hiring international talent. Ireland’s labor laws, in particular, can be difficult to maneuver when unfamiliar with their inner workings, especially when it comes to contingent workers — referred to locally as agency workers. Similar to a contingent worker, an agency worker is any individual contracted with an employment agency, such as an employer of record (or EOR), and made available to work for another company. It’s a fairly straightforward definition, but there are complexities to consider.


Understanding the Employment Rights in Ireland

Agency workers’ rights in Ireland are akin to the employment rights in many other countries. For example, agency workers are entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as workers under standard employment contracts. The same would be true for equal treatment, in that the individual cannot be treated less favorably than any other individual working for the client company (that is, the beneficiary of the services). They’re also entitled to the same statutory protections as any other employee, such as national minimum wage, parental leave, redundancy payments, and so on.

Additionally, agency workers’ rights in Ireland are subject to general employment terms, from probationary and notice periods to length of service. Probationary periods, for instance, are generally between three months and six months, and only in exceptional circumstances may it be extended beyond that. Notice periods, on the other hand, increase with time served. The longer someone works for an organization, the longer their notice period must be. Length of service is especially important, as any agency worker engaged with a company on a fixed-term contract for longer than four years will be considered indefinite.

Then, there’s the matter of income tax, social insurance, and Universal Social Charge, which must be managed through a local payroll with relevant employers’ and employees’ contributions duly remitted to the Irish Revenue. Once payroll is submitted, the Irish Revenue Commissioners can actually collect all the relevant contributions directly from employers’ business bank accounts. Failing to contribute — or comply with any other of Ireland’s labor laws — could lead to legal and financial repercussions.


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Navigating Employment Contracts in Ireland

In addition to the employment rights in Ireland, a business should familiarize itself with the standards involved in employment contracts for workers. In fact, Ireland’s labor laws stipulate that every employee must receive a written statement of terms of employment, which can be expressed (i.e., explained verbally or in writing) or implied (i.e., not specified but still applicable).

Also, the core terms of employment must be provided in writing, and they must be issued within five days of someone starting a job. These terms should include the basics, such as:

  • •  Full name of the employee.
  • •  Name of the employer.
  • •  Address of the employer.
  • •  Place of work (i.e., whether it is fixed, various, or the worker can set their own).
  • •  Start date.
  • •  Job title.
  • •  Nature of work.
  • •  Hours of work (days and hours in a week).
  • •  Duration of contract.
  • •  Pay rate or method of calculating pay.
  • •  Pay reference period.
  • •  Conditions and duration of probationary period, if any.
  • •  Conditions related to hours of work, such as overtime.

Other terms that will need to be provided to agency workers in Ireland, but can be done at a later date (as long as it’s within one month of the start date), include:

  • •  Pay intervals.
  • •  Paid leave, such as vacation and public holiday entitlements.
  • •  Sick pay.
  • •  Pension and pension schemes.
  • •  Notice periods (for both parties).
  • •  Collective agreements that may affect terms.
  • •  Training to be provided.
  • •  Number of guaranteed hours, if unpredictable.
  • •  Minimum notice of worker assignment, if hours are unpredictable.
  • •  Identity of the organization hiring the worker, if employed through a temporary agency.
  • •  Identity of the recipient agency for social insurance contributions and any protection relating to the individual’s social insurance arrangements.
  • •  Grievance and disciplinary procedures.

Hiring agency workers in Ireland may feel like a challenge, but the challenge really only comes with unfamiliarity with local labor laws. Once you have a better understanding, then the whole process becomes much easier. Knowledge is power, as they say, and it can open the door for your business to secure skilled and qualified workers that may not be available within your country’s borders.

To simplify the process, many companies choose to engage agency workers in Ireland through an EOR partner. However, that comes with its own considerations, such as ensuring the agency is a registered business in Ireland and can process local payroll. The EOR should also hold an Employment Agency License issued by the Workplace Relations Commission and provide written terms to the agency worker (including all the above information). Once you’ve confirmed the EOR agency is a right fit, it’s important to work together to make sure fair procedures are observed throughout the engagement.

If you’re interested in learning more about hiring agency workers in Ireland or using an EOR to engage talent in this country, contact Innovative Employee Solutions (IES) today. We’d be more than happy to provide additional information or help find a solution suited to your needs.


Written by: Helga Venturini Townend, Senior Director of Global Operations at IES

Helga Venturini Townend is the Senior Director of Global Operations of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading provider of remote and contingent workforce solutions specializing in global Employer of Record, Agent of Record, and Independent Contractor compliance services in 150+ countries. Founded in 1974, IES is a woman-owned business, certified by the WBENC, and partners with companies to provide compliant employment solutions that empower people’s lives. From her base in the U.K., she has used her expertise in workforce management compliance and risk assessment to set up global contingent workforce management solutions in more than 100 countries.

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