Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changes to your contract of employment

Changes to your contract of employment in Ireland can occur due to a change in the law, but otherwise, changes must be agreed between your employer and yourself. Neither party can unilaterally decide to change the contract. This requirement for both the employer's and the employee's consent to changes in the terms of the contract is part of contract law. This principle is not affected by the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 which sets out the procedures for the employer informing the employee of any changes to the statement of the terms of employment.

Changes introduced by law

Where the law introduces changes into your contract of employment, for example, by extending the statutory period of maternity leave, then both you and your employer must comply with the law.

Changes introduced by agreement

The nature of your job may change, so that you are doing a different job for the same employer. Such a major change will probably also result in changes to your terms and conditions of employment. Unless your contract already allows certain changes to be introduced, you or your employer cannot introduce change unilaterally. There must be agreement between the parties. Where such an agreement is reached, you must be given the details of change(s) in writing within 1 month of their coming into operation.

Contractual terms and work practices

Legally there is a distinction between the terms in your contract of employment and work practices.
Contractual terms include pay, hours of work, sick pay and pension scheme. All of your contractual terms may not be in the written statement of your terms and conditions of employment. Some of your contractual terms could be in your staff handbook, a pension scheme booklet or a collective agreement. You can read more about contractual terms in our document on contract of employment. Changes to these terms must be agreed between you and your employer.
Work practices can include breaks and rostering, for example. Details of these may also be in your staff handbook and your employer may change these work practices without your consent. It is considered reasonable for an employer to update work practices or processes to save money or increase efficiency.

Being asked to reduce your pay or hours of work

When your employer has a downturn in business or there is less work for you to do, your employer may ask you to take a pay cut or to work fewer hours. You should consider this request very carefully. If your employer's business activity is reduced, this may mean that if you don’t accept a reduction in your working hours or pay you may lose your job due to redundancy.


The legislation covering notification of changes to your contract is set out in Section 5 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 to 2001. Essentially, whenever a change is made or occurs in any part of the contract furnished by an employer, the employer shall notify the employee in writing of the nature and date of the change as soon as may be afterwards. They must notify the employee however not later than:
  • 1 month after the change takes effect, or
  • where the change is consequent on the employee being required to work outside the State for a period of more than 1 month, the time of the employee's departure.
This Act also sets out what terms in your contract must be put in writing. (For example, your name, job title, company address, date you commenced employment, etc.). The requirement that you receive a written statement of your terms of employment is set down under Section 3 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994.

How to apply

If you do not receive the required notification of a change to your statement of terms of employment, you should first raise this issue with your employer or the personnel department of your company. If you are a member of a trade union, you may also raise this with your local representative. If you still fail to receive a notification of change to your contract, and have tried raising this issue with your employer, you may make a complaint to a Rights Commissioner under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 using the Rights Commissioner complaint form (pdf).
If your employer makes a significant change in your contract for example by reducing your pay, you should ask your employer to give you written details of this proposed change to your contract of employment including a review date. You should respond to this in writing and if you are proposing to accept the change, you should stress that your acceptance is temporary. At the review date the change to your contract can be reconsidered and you could ask to return to the original terms and conditions of your contract.
If you do not agree and say you wish to continue working as before your employer may decide to make you redundant. If you are dismissed in this way, you may qualify to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. Unless your employer can prove there was a genuine redundancy situation and that fair procedures were followed, this dismissal may be found to be unfair.
If your employer insists on reducing your working hours or pay you may also consider that you have no choice but to leave your job and claim unfair dismissal. This type of dismissal is known as constructive dismissal, because although you left the job, the employer forced you to leave by his/her actions. Before exercising this option, however, you should always seek detailed legal advice as proving constructive dismissal can often be difficult. Alternatively, you could refer the dispute to a Rights Commissioner in the hope of resolving the matter, and thus avoid the necessity for you to leave the job. As the attempts made by the employee to resolve a grievance before resigning are always relevant in an unfair dismissal claim involving constructive dismissal, this may be the wisest course of action.

Monday, November 15, 2010


There are virtually no restrictions on the type of work that you can do and students have been highly successful in finding jobs. The majority of our past participants have worked in restaurants, bars, banks, stores, hotels, call centers, offices and cafs. Finding a career job takes a lot more planning than casual work and we advise that you start your research before you travel to Ireland. A number of determined career-minded students have found positions as architects, stage assistants, computer programmers, gym instructors and church organists! However if finance or international marketing is your chosen path you can always yield to the temptation to delay reality for a while...

Ireland has not been unaffected by the recent economic downturn, and some jobs are becoming harder to get. However with the right attitude, and planning, you should be successful in your job search. We recommend doing prior research into the job market before you come over and think carefully about what season you want to come for. Early summer (late April, May and early June) are ideal times to find short term work as the summer is very busy with the tourist high season starting up. But if you come late June and July and August, youll find that the jobs that were once plentiful are now filled by other travellers and Irish students looking for summer work. Similar in the Fall and Winter months, September and October are good times to arrive as you will be filling the jobs left by returning students and retail shops are looking to build up their staff for the busy Christmas season. We do not recommend arriving from mid December until early February as many employers will not be looking to hire shortly before or after Christmas. The holiday season is very big with the Irish and it is not unusual for employers to take long vacations around that time.

The work authorization entitles you to take any type of job but you will need to put in the same kind of research and planning as if you were relocating to a different US city for your summer.

Even if the job itself is not particularly high-powered, no one comes to Ireland for this reason alone. Waiting tables in Planet Hollywood in Dublin might not seem to be the ideal ethnic experience when you have travelled so far, but the fact that you are working alongside Irish people, learning about the culture from the inside, and earning money to pursue all those aspects of Ireland that first caught your interest (James Joyce, U2, pubs, wild scenery, more pubs) should convince you that this is an opportunity that cannot be missed!

Your attitude and sense of adventure are vital ingredients. If you are flexible and motivated you not encounter any serious difficulties. While you will have plenty of independence, you will also have the security of having the USIT staff there to help and advise should any problems arise.

Job Links

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Contract of employment


Anyone who works for an employer in Ireland for a regular wage or salary automatically has a contract of employment. While the complete contract does not have to be in writing, an employee must be given a written statement of terms of employment within 2 months of starting work - see 'Rules' below.
The majority of employees work under open-ended contracts of employment. In other words, the contract continues until such time as the employer or employee ends it. Many other employees however, work under fixed-term or specified-purpose contracts which are contracts which end on a specified date or when a specific task is completed.
The contract of employment will include some or all of the following elements (regardless of whether the employer and employee have specified them or not):
  • The terms that the courts say are in every contract of employment. Examples include the duty of every employer to provide a safe workplace and the duty of every employee to carry out the job to the best of his/her ability. This part of the contract is occasionally referred to as "common law".
  • Terms that must be part of the contract as a result of laws passed by the Dail. Examples include the right to take maternity leave. Such terms are part of the contract even if the employer and employee do not specifically include them and replace any agreement between the employer and employee not to apply the particular law. So, the statutory right to take maternity leave overrides any agreement between the employer and employee that the employee will not take maternity leave.
  • Terms that the Irish Constitution states must be in every contract, for example, the right of an employee to join a trade union.
  • Collective agreements
  • Joint Labour Committee Regulations
  • EU laws
In addition, custom and practice in a particular workplace may form part of a contract. An example would be a particular level of overtime pay for employees.


The Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 and 2001 provide that an employer is obliged to provide an employee with a written statement of terms of employment within the first two months of the commencement of employment.
The statement of terms must include the following information:
  • The full name of employer and employee
  • The address of the employer
  • The place of work
  • The title of job or nature of work
  • The date the employment started
  • If the contract is temporary, the expected duration of the contract
  • If the contract of employment is for a fixed term, the details
  • Details of rest periods and breaks as required by law
  • *The rate of pay or method of calculation of pay
  • The pay reference period for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  • *Pay intervals
  • *Hours of work
  • *That the employee has the right to ask the employer for a written statement of his/her average hourly rate of pay as provided for in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  • *Details of paid leave
  • *Sick pay and pension (if any)
  • *Period of notice to be given by employer or employee
  • *Details of any collective agreements that may affect the employee’s terms of employment
* In the case of these items instead of giving each employee the details in writing, the employer may refer an employee to other documents, for example, a pension scheme booklet or a collective agreement, provided that the employee has easy access to such documents.
The statement of terms must indicate the reference period being used by the employer for the purposes of the calculation of the employee's entitlements under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. (Under that Act the employer may calculate the employee's minimum wage entitlement over a reference period that is no less than one week and no greater than one month).
There is a sample written statement of terms of employment on the website of the National Employment Rights Authority.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

The Labour Relations Commission has published the Code of Practice: Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures which states that employers should have written grievance and disciplinary procedures and they should give employees copies of these at the start of their employment. Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007 employers are required to give the employee in written notice of the procedures to be followed before an employee is dismissed. This must be done within 28 days of entering the contract of employment.

Specific provisions in contracts of employment

In recent times, some employers are adding in specific provisions in contracts of employment that limit the ability of employees to work in a certain sector, with certain suppliers, clients, for a period following termination of employment. (For example, it may specifically state that the employee cannot work in a certain sector, with or for suppliers or clients of the former employer, etc.). There is nothing in employment law in Ireland that strictly forbids this, but there is no provision in employment law that allows this either.
Essentially, this is an issue of contract law - that is, the contract of employment signed and agreed between the employer and employee. If you have any concerns about this issue, you are strongly advised to seek legal advice from a competent legal professional in advance of signing this contract. However, even if the contract is signed, you are always free to seek such legal advice. Solicitors' fees in Ireland can vary widely so shop around and obtain some quotes for legal advice before you proceed.

Probationary period

The contract can include a probationary period and can allow for this period to be extended. The Unfair Dismissals Acts 1997-2007 will not apply to the dismissal of an employee during a period at the beginning of employment when he/she is on probation or undergoing training provided that:
  • the contract of employment is in writing
  • the duration of probation or training is one year or less and is specified in the contract.
The above exclusion from the Acts will not apply if the dismissal results from trade union membership or activity, pregnancy related matters, or entitlements under the maternity protection, parental leave, adoptive leave and carer's leave legislation.

Changes to your contract of employment

Changes to your contract of employment in Ireland can occur due to a change in the law, but otherwise, changes must be agreed between your employer and yourself. The requirement for both the employer's and the employee's consent to changes in the terms of the contract is part of contract law.

How to apply

If your employer fails to give you written details of the terms of your contract, you can bring a complaint to a Rights Commissioner using the Rights Commissioner complaint form (pdf). You must make the complaint while you are in employment or within 6 months of leaving your employment. For further information about your employment rights contact the National Employment Rights Authority.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Employment rights and duties

If you have been out of the workforce in Ireland for some time, you will need to update yourself on changes that have occurred in the field of employment protection. The last decade has seen substantial changes and acquainting yourself with these developments will help you to maximise your rights.

Employment protection developments 1993-2007

The following is a summary of the legislation that has been introduced in this period concerning employment protection:

Complaints/breach of rights

Employment law in Ireland provides strong protection for employees who feel their rights have been breached. Complaints, disputes and grievances are heard before a Rights Commissioner who will listen to both sides before completing an investigation of the complaint and issuing a recommendation. Recommendations issued by the Rights Commissioner can be binding or non-binding, depending on the type of law under which the case is heard.
Claims under equality legislation are brought to the Equality Tribunal.
Often, disputes between employers and employees can be resolved using mediation. Mediation means that the Labour Relations Commission is contacted and appoints an independent person to meet with both parties and listen to both sides. This free service is available to all employees and employers (except members of the Gardai, Defence Forces and Prison services). Meetings are held privately and all discussions are confidential.

How to apply

Requests for mediation services should be made to the Workplace Mediation Service at the Labour Relations Commission.
Complaints, disputes or grievances regarding breaches of employment rights under certain legislation can be heard before a Rights Commissioner. Before you apply to have your complaint heard, you must notify you employer of your intention to contact the Rights Commissioner service. Where legal entitlements are involved, you should try and resolve the matter locally before referring to the Rights Commissioner service.
The following application forms must be completed and forwarded to the Labour Relations Commission in advance of a hearing before a Rights Commissioner.
Further information on employment protection legislation may be obtained from the National Employment Rights Authority.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The fee must be paid by the applicant. In some circumstances, the fee may be waived.

Fees for first applications and renewals of work permits received before 1 June 2009
Duration of work permit     Amount
Up to 6 months     €500
6 months to 2 years     €1,000
2 to 3 years     €1,500
Unlimited (after 5 years)     No fee

Fees for new applications for work permits received on or after 1 June 2009
Duration of work permit     Amount
Up to 6 months     €500
6 months to 2 years     €1,000

Fees for renewals of new work permits received on or after 1 June 2009
Duration of renewal     Amount
Up to 6 months     €750
6 months to 2 years     €1,500
2 to 3 years     €2,250
Unlimited (after 5 years)     No fee

How to apply

New applications for work permits can be made by the prospective employer or employee to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Applications must be made using the new employment permit application form (pdf).

It must be accompanied by:

    * Two recently taken passport-sized photographs of the proposed employee
    * Documentary evidence that a labour market needs test has been undertaken
    * Documentary evidence of the employee’s certified qualifications.
    * The appropriate fee
    * If the proposed employee is resident in Ireland, copies of all visas, residency stamps and GNIB Registration Card – see above
    * If the proposed employee is not resident in Ireland, then he or she should apply for a visa – see above

Renewal of work permits: either an employer or an employee can apply for a renewal using the renewal application form (pdf).

If an employer applies for a work permit in respect of a former employee who has left the state, this will be considered a new application.

There is further information in the Department's Guide to Work Permits (pdf).

You should allow 2 to 3 months for a new application or renewal to be processed.
Where to apply

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Employment Permits Section
Davitt House
65a Adelaide Road
Dublin 2
+353 1 417 5333
1890 201 616
+353 1 631 3268

Immigration: Long-term Residence Section
Department of Justice and Law Reform
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
3rd Floor
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
+353 (0)1 6167700
1890 551 500

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Refusal of work permits

You will be refused a work permit where you:
  • Entered the state on the basis that you are not taking up employment, for example, as a visitor
  • Are in the state illegally or you no longer comply with the conditions under which you were admitted
  • Have been asked by the Department of Justice and Law Reform to leave the state
  • Are in the process of being deported
  • Are seeking employment with a non-European Economic Area/Swiss employer who is operating in the state without business permission from the Minister for Justice and Law Reform


It is a primary condition of entry into the state for students that they are in a position to maintain themselves while studying here. From 18 April 2005 new students given permission to remain in Ireland for study will not be given permission to work (defined as up to 20 hours part-time work per week or full-time work during holiday periods) unless they are attending a full-time course of at least a year leading to a recognised qualification. There is a list of recognised courses on the Department of Education and Skills website. Students who had permission to remain on 18 April 2005 can continue to work part-time and study in Ireland for the remaining period of their visa.
From 10 April 2007 non-EEA students who have graduated on or after 1 January 2007 with a primary, master's or doctorate degree may be permitted to remain in Ireland for 6 months. The degree must be from an Irish third-level educational institution. The Third Level Graduate Scheme (pdf) will allow them to find employment and apply for a work permit or Green Card permit. During this 6-month period they may work full time. They must be legally resident in Ireland and should apply for this extension of their student permission (stamp 2) to their local immigration registration office - see "Registration and permission to remain" above.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010



If you are a national who requires a visa, this is still a requirement even if you do not need a work permit. You should obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland. Your nearest Irish embassy or consulate will be able to advise on whether you require a travel visa.

Registration and permission to remain

Non-EEA nationals (with the exception of Switzerland) must register with the local immigration officer in the area where they intend to live when they arrive in the State. In Dublin the registration is done at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Outside Dublin you may register at your local Garda District Headquarters.
When you have been legally living and working in Ireland for 5 consecutive years on a work permit you will no longer need a work permit - see 'Renewal of work permits' above. You can also apply for long-term residence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) - see 'Where to apply' below.
Undocumented workers: If your work permit is no longer valid through no fault of your own, because of your employer's action or inaction, and if you no longer have permission to remain, there is a scheme for certain undocumented non-EEA workers. The scheme closed on 31 December 2009. If you are successful you will be given a temporary residence permission of 4 months. You can find the application form and further details of the undocumented workers scheme on the INIS website.


You may be able to bring your family to live here after you have been legally working here for a year on a work permit. You also have to be able to show that you will be able to support them. In practice, you need to be earning an income above the limits for Family Income Supplement.
If you applied for your work permit before 1 June 2009 your spouse and dependants aged under 18 may apply for a spousal/dependant work permit (pdf) once they are legally resident in Ireland on the basis of being your spouse or dependant. If you applied for a work permit after 1 June 2009, they are not eligible to apply for a spousal/dependant work permit but may apply for a work permit in their own right. They may require visas to come to Ireland (see 'Visas' above) and there are INIS guidelines about family reunification for workers.