A summary of employment protection legislation from 1993.

Data Protection Act 2018: gives workers more protection of their personal data and imposes obligations on companies which control and process information about workers.

Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016: gives fathers two weeks’ paternity leave, to be taken within six months of the birth (or adoption) of a child.

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015: provides Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment Orders.

Workplace Relations Act 2015: sets up the Workplace Relations Commission and a newly-expanded Labour Court.

Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014: provides nine types of employment permit and changes the criteria for issuing employment permits.

Protected Disclosures Act 2014: protects employees who disclose wrongdoing in the workplace.

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012: changes the wage-setting arrangements for making Registered Employment Agreements and Employment Regulation Orders.

Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012: gives equal treatment to all temporary agency workers as if they were directly recruited, in relation to the length of the working day, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays and pay. The right to equal pay is backdated to 5 December 2011.

Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007: establishes a redundancy panel to consider some collective redundancies and removes the upper age limit for entitlement to redundancy payments.

Employment Permits Act 2006: introduces the Green Card permit and revises legislation on work permits and spousal permits.

Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Act 2006: establishes minimum rights of employees to information and consultation about the development of their employment structure and activities in firms with at least 50 employees.

Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006: provides unpaid leave for parents to look after their children, and for a limited right to paid leave in circumstances of serious family illness (force majeure).

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005: consolidates and updates existing health and safety law, and sets bigger fines for breaches of safety legislation.

Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004: includes provisions relating to ante-natal classes, additional maternity leave, breastfeeding and a reduction in the compulsory period of pre-birth confinement.

Equality Act 2004: extends protection to workers under 16 and over 65. It also strengthens the definition of sexual harassment and shifts the burden of proof from the complainant to the person about whom the complaint was made.

Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings Regulations 2003: protects employees’ rights and entitlements during any merger or legal transfer of an undertaking or business from one employer to another (including assignment or forfeiture of a lease).

Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003: prevents employers continually renewing fixed-term contracts, ensuring that fixed-term employees are not treated less favourably than permanent workers. An employee working on one or more fixed-term contracts for a continuous period of four years is considered to have a permanent contract.

Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001: requires employers to keep records of the hours worked by employees, with details of annual leave and public holidays, and notes of holiday pay. Employers must also keep weekly records of workers’ starting and finishing times.

Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001: forbids discrimination against part-time workers and aims to improve the quality of part-time work and to encourage part-time voluntary work and flexible working hours.

Carer’s Leave Act 2001: entitles employees to temporary unpaid leave to look after anyone who needs full-time care and attention.

National Minimum Wage Act 2000: introduces an enforceable national minimum wage.

Employment Equality Act 1998: outlaws discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age, race, religious belief, disability, sexual orientation or membership of the traveller community. The act also prohibits sexual and other harassment.

Parental Leave Act, 1998: allows parents to take unpaid leave to care for their children, and gives a limited right to paid leave in cases of serious family illness (force majeure).

Organisation of Working Time Act 1997: regulates employment conditions including maximum working hours, night work and annual and public holiday leave.

Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996: replaces legislation dating from 1977 and regulates the employment and working conditions of children and young people.

Adoptive Leave Act 1995: provides for adoptive leave mainly by adoptive mothers and for their right to return to work afterwards.

Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994: updates previous legislation relating to the provision of information to employees about such matters as job description, rates of pay and hours of work.

Maternity Protection Act 1994: replaces previous legislation and covers matters such as maternity leave, the right to return to work and health and safety for pregnant women and new mothers.

Unfair Dismissals (Amendment) Act 1993: updates unfair dismissals acts since 1977.

Unfair Dismissals Act 1977: consolidated Law Reform Commission version.


The Workplace Relations Reform Programme merged the activities of the Labour Relations Commission, the National Employment Rights Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the first‐instance functions of the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal into a new body of first instance, the Workplace Relations Commission. (The Employment Appeals Tribunal finalised complaints submitted to the EAT before 1 October 2015 and was then incorporated into the WRC.) But the CJEU decided in December 2018 in C‐378/17 Minister for Justice and Equality, Commissioner of An Garda Siochana v Workplace Relations Commission that the WRC must apply EU legislation against private employers, and that the Labour Court and the WRC have the same jurisdiction as the High Court.

The WRC provides a single entry for all employment-related and equality-related information requests, and employment and equality rights complaints and referrals. (See ADJ-00005813, in which a general operative, who earned €500 a week, was awarded €26,000 for unfair dismissal and bullying.)

The WRC encourages employers and employees to resolve issues at workplace level, thereby reducing the number of cases for inspection or adjudication. This involves early review of the facts and intervention to seek early resolution as an alternative to a formal hearing or inspection. Before any hearing, you must complete the application form and send it to the Workplace Relations Commission. Some employment disputes may be resolved using mediation. The WRC will appoint an independent mediator to hear both sides of the case. All discussions are free and confidential. This service is available to all employees and employers, except members of the Garda Síochána, Defence Forces and Prison Service.

All appeals are heard by the WRC, which exercises the legal and appellate functions previously attributed to the Labour Court and Employment Appeals Tribunal. The only further appeal is to the High Court on a point of law.

Queries in relation to mediation and the advisory service should be sent to:

The Workplace Relations Commission,
Tom Johnson House,
Haddington Road, Dublin 4
D04 AE64
Tel: 01-613 6700
Lo-Call: 1890 220 227
Email or

The adjudication service is at the same address, except:

Tel: 01-631 3380

The Labour Court is also at the same address, except:

Tel: 01-613 6666
Lo-call: 1890 220 228

For information and customer service (9.30-1700, Monday to Friday), contact:

Workplace Relations Commission
O’Brien Road,
R93 W7W2
Tel: 059 9178990
Lo-call: 1890 808 090

The inspection and enforcement service is at the same address, except:

Tel: 059 9178800
Lo-call: 1890 220 100

More information on employment protection legislation may be obtained from:

The employment rights information unit,
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2,
D02 TD30
Tel: 01-631 2121
Lo-call: 1890 220 222

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