Ireland Country Profile - Working Practices

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Working Hours

Working hours in Ireland are regulated by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and EU directives which state the maximum average working week cannot exceed 48 hours. Some professions, such as Garda (police), Army and farming, are exempt. Under the Organisation of Working Time Act, extra pay or time in lieu should be available to employees working on Sundays. Most employees work a 39-hour week, from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday and many office and government departments close between 12.30pm and 2pm for lunch.


Holiday entitlement in Ireland is protected by law and allows workers an average of four weeks paid leave a year. While most EU countries calculate leave from April to March, many Irish employers calculate it based on the calendar year (January to December). Generally, both full-time and part-time workers are entitled to 8% of the hours worked in a year. For more details, visit the Citizens Information website here.

Public holidays

There are nine public holidays in Ireland, which are mainly religious festivals or celebrations. Most places of work observe national holidays with many closing for the day or operating reduced services and hours.

Public holiday dates 2019

New Year’s Day: 1st January

St Patrick’s Day: 18th March

Easter Monday: 22nd April

May Day: 6th May

June Bank Holiday: 3rd June

August Bank Holiday: 5th August

Bank Holiday: 28th October

Christmas Day: 25th December

St Stephen’s Day: 26th December

Visas and eligibility to work

The freedom of movement with the European Union means the majority of EU citizens are permitted to enter Ireland with a passport but no other documentation. For EU citizens, a national identity card will also suffice. You do not require a visa to visit Ireland if you are from an EU country. Apart from UK citizens, you will need a visa to enter Northern Ireland. An Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver is available to workers from 18 Eastern European, Middle East and Asian countries in order to boost tourism and jobs. These visas usually allow workers to stay in Ireland for up to 180 days. There are several types of visa available for foreign workers which depend on the job the person will do in the country. A D-type visa will be required for those working in the country for longer than three months and can be applied for at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is responsible for visas and immigration into the country.


In Ireland the tax year runs from 1st January to 31st December. Workers are taxed if they are considered a resident in Ireland (if a worker spends 183 days or more in Ireland during a tax year or 280 days over two consecutive years). Workers are taxed 20% on their taxable income up to a certain threshold. There may be some tax breaks for expats living in Ireland but it is advisable to seek the advice of an expat tax planner to find out if you are eligible. The Irish government is keen to attract foreign investment to the country, which has seen low corporate tax rates of below 12.5% levied on most businesses. Ireland operates a progressive personal tax system, with most workers being on a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, with tax deducted by their employer. VAT is charged on most goods and services and is currently set at 23%. For more information, visit the website.


There are three types of pension in Ireland; two which are based on social insurance contributions and a state pension. To be eligible, workers need to be a permanent resident in Ireland and have made sufficient contributions during their working lives. To register you will need to complete Form SPT/SPC1 at your local Social Welfare Office or Department of Social Protection. People who do not qualify for a contributory pension can apply for a non-contributory pension, which is means-tested and available to people aged 66 or over.


Social welfare is split into three types in Ireland: Social Insurance, Means-tested payments and Universal payments. Benefits available include Jobseeker’s Allowance, Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit and Carer’s Benefit. Certain criteria must be met to qualify for state welfare payments. You can apply to the Department of Social Protection to find out if you are eligible for benefits.


The rights of disabled people are protected by the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 which make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of their disability. The law also compels employers to make adjustments in the workplace to accommodate disabled workers. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 also forces employers to take worker’s disabilities into account, especially regarding doors, passageways, stairs, work stations and toilets. Under the Disability Act 2005, 3% of jobs in public sector bodies are reserved for people with disabilities.

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