Young Workers’ Guide – Know YOUR rights!

Every person in Ireland has certain rights in the workplace, including the right to join a Trade Union. Both fulltime and part time workers are entitled to these rights.

Pay & Conditions:

  • Unless you are under 18, employed by a family member or a trainee or on an apprenticeship every employee is entitled to a minimum wage of €8.65 an hour
  • You are entitled to a written statement of your Terms of Employment(or “Contract”) within 2 months of starting a new job or these terms changing
  • You are also entitled to a written statement of wages each time you are paid(a “Pay Slip”) that states gross pay and any deductions, the only deductions allowed are 1) PAYE, PRSI and USC and 2) deductions agreed by you or stated in your contract
  • Your contract must state the times and dates of your expected work, if not your employer must give at least 24 hours’ notice of these details
  • You are not obliged to work more than 48 Hours in a 7 Day period and your employer cannot force you to work more than an 8 hour shift at night
  • You are legally entitled to a safe place of work along with safe systems, equipment and competent co-workers

Family and Work:

It is illegal for you to be fired or not hired because you are pregnant, you are also entitled to;

  • Time off for ante-natal classes
  • 26 Weeks of maternity leave around the birth of a baby(with at least 2 taken before the birth)
  • During this time you will receive Maternity Benefit, check with the Dept of Social Protection at least 6 Weeks before the birth what you are entitled to
  • Another 16 Weeks unpaid leave without the Maternity Benefit
  • New fathers should check their workplace where Trade Unions have won Paternity Leave in some places
  • 14 Weeks conditional leave for both the father and mother of a child under 8

Working Hours, Holiday’s & Breaks:
As an employee, you are entitled to;

  • At least 11 hours of rest every day and
  • At least 24 continuous hours of rest every week
  • A 15-minute break for every Four and a Half working hours or
  • A 30-minute break for every Six working hours
  • If you must work on a Sunday, you are entitled to an allowance or an increased rate of pay or paid time off or a combination of the above.
  • If you must work on a Public Holiday you are entitled to  paid day off within a month or an additional day off or an additional days pay
  • Fulltime workers are entitled to 4 weeks annual leave a year while part time workers are entitled to annual leave proportional to amount of time they work

Equality and Harassment:

  • Harassment, sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace are illegal
  • It is also illegal to treat or pay someone differently because their gender, race, religion, family and marital status, disability, age or ethnic background

For full details on your workplace rights go to

The best way to learn about and protect your rights in the workplace is to join a Trade Union!

  • Whats a Trade Union:

A trade union is an organisation that brings people who work in the same area of employment together in order to achieve goals, such as better working conditions. They are democratic organisations. All major decisions are made by members when negotiating with employers for increased terms and conditions in the workplace.

Why join?                  

We owe many things such as weekends and sick pay we take for granted were won by unions. In the modern workplace your trade union can offer assistance if you feel you are being treated unfairly or being made work in unsafe conditions your Union Representative can help you, as well as offering information on your rights and legal assistance.

What do Unions do for you?

ü  Unions have won weekends, annual leave, overtime rates, redundancy and bank holidays for us

ü  People who belong to Unions enjoy better pay and working conditions than non-Union workers

ü  Unions focus on protecting low paid workers from being exploited, often these are young people and students unaware of their rights

ü  Unions have a record for standing up to promote women’s rights in the workplace and ensure equal pay for equal work

ü  Individual Unions provide educational, training opportunities to its members

ü  Unions can represent you in negotiations or disputes with your employer if you think you are being treated unfairly

For more information on joining a Trade Union contact Irish Congress of Trade Unions at and ICTU is an umbrella group for Trade Unions in Ireland and will be able to advise you which Union covers your section of work.

 Young Workers Network (SIPTU Youth) graphic 


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