What you need to know before hiring in Ireland: A guide to terminations

Published

May 12, 2023

Just made your first Irish hire? While termination is probably one of the furthest things from your mind, it’s crucial to know the basics about terminating employment relationships properly in Ireland. This will protect you from ending up in a legal battle when you inevitably part ways with an Irish employee.

Employees in Ireland are protected from hasty or unwarranted dismissals by a strict labor code. Should you fail to adhere to the statutory minimum notice periods or pay requirements or be unable to prove your decision was justified, you could be subject to a wrongful dismissal claim and penalties in Irish courts.

Read on to learn everything you need to know before hiring Irish employees—and how hiring through an Employer of Record (EOR) can spare you from bungling any local dismissal requirements.

5 essential things to know before hiring in Ireland

  • You must establish terms of dismissal in your employment agreement. The offer letter you send to your Irish employee when you first hire them should contain detailed information about the company’s termination policies. Make sure you’re complying with the regulations set down by the Unfair Dismissal Acts, including the minimum statutory notice requirements for employees in Ireland.
  • Irish laws don’t recognize at-will employment. Once an Irish employee has worked with your company for 12 months, you cannot dismiss them without giving them a reason and the proper notice.
  • You should put everything in writing. In the event an employee is terminated at your company, it is their right to ask for a written notice that explains the reasons they’re being dismissed. You will also need evidence to use in the event they decide to challenge your decision in court.
  • Even if an employee can’t prove their dismissal was unfair, they may still have a case. If you terminate an employee who’s been with the company for less than 12 months, they’ll likely have a hard time bringing an unfair dismissal case against you because of the ways Irish laws are written. However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from legal repercussions. If an employee can show that your decision was discriminatory in some way, they can take you to court.
  • Only employees who have been with the company for two years or more have the right to redundancy pay. Irish labor laws—which are various Acts and Notices cobbled together rather than being one uniform body of work—only provide statutory redundancy pay for employees who have worked with the company for two years or more. However, most employers work out severance terms with employees on their own, and this is something your Irish hires will likely expect from you.

Termination rules in Ireland: What are acceptable grounds for firing an employee?

Irish employees are permitted to leave their jobs voluntarily for any reason. They simply need to give their employer advance notice (in Ireland, that’s usually one week). However, Irish employers cannot simply hire and fire at will. They need to prove they have “fair grounds” for dismissal.

Here are the reasons an employee can be terminated involuntarily in Ireland:

  • Incapability. Even if you’ve hired a highly qualified person, you’re not going to get anything done if they’re the type of employee who’s chronically late or absent from work altogether. If something is interfering with your employee’s ability to do their job and you’ve given them several (documented) warnings about it and have supported them with any reasonable accommodations and there is still no change then you can dismiss them involuntarily.
  • Incompetence. Generally, employers use the probation period to get to know their employees and ensure they have the competence the position requires. If, however, you and your employee wind up in an unfortunate situation where they’ve worked with you for two or more years and are showing themselves to be unable to meet your standards or improve, you can let them go.
  • Misrepresenting qualifications. Employees who lie on their resumes or misrepresent themselves in other ways in order to get a job can be dismissed if you can prove they misled you. You can also dismiss them if you hired them on the condition that they would go for extra training or get a certification for the job and they start working without holding up their end of the bargain.
  • Improper conduct. This category applies to both small (or “ordinary”) instances of misconduct and gross misconduct alike. If the misconduct falls under the former category, you’ll need to investigate each report, speak with the employee, and give them time to improve themselves. However, if the employee is guilty of gross misconduct (such as stealing from the company or bullying coworkers), they can be involuntarily terminated without notice.
  • Redundancy. In the event your company is making some changes that would render one or more employees’ jobs redundant, you can dismiss them on fair grounds.
  • Involvement in criminal activity. You have the right to dismiss an employee if keeping them in your service would mean you’re breaking the law. While this category might sound flashy or movie-worthy, the criminal activity you need to worry about will generally fall along the lines of things like letting an employee drive for work-related purposes when you know they’ve lost their license.

Ireland’s termination requirements might differ from those in other countries where you hire, and it’s crucial to keep your global hiring compliant with local laws.

What are the mandatory notice periods and termination pay for Irish employees?

The Irish labor codes only entitles employees who have worked with a company for two years or more to statutory redundancy pay. Then, they’ll receive two weeks of tax-free pay for every year they worked for the company plus an additional week. This number is capped at 600 EUR a week.

However, it is more specific about the mandatory notice periods for employees who are being dismissed. Below, you’ll find a table detailing the statutory minimum notice periods for Irish employees. Employers can and usually do give higher notice periods to their employees, it can especially prove important for critical roles difficult to find in the market.

Length of service

Minimum notice required

13 weeks to two years

One week

2 to 5 years

Two weeks

5 to 10 years

Four weeks

10 to 15 years

Six weeks

Over 15 years

Eight weeks

The easiest way to comply with Irish termination requirements

If you employ a global workforce, keeping track of termination requirements gets complicated. Without any assistance, employers need to master conflicting just-cause considerations, probationary and notice periods, and severance pay laws that vary both within and among countries.

An alternative is to hire through an EOR, which can monitor termination requirements for you. Rippling, for instance, will localize employment agreements on your company’s behalf.

Rippling ensures contracts adhere to termination requirements for all of your Irish employees—regardless of whether you’ve set up your own local entity. It also automatically enrolls your new hire in statutory benefits, while allowing you to manage payroll for your entire international workforce.

Frequently asked questions about terminating employees in Ireland

Do you need a reason to terminate an employee in Ireland?

The short answer? Yes. You need to be able to prove you have fair grounds for dismissal in accordance with Irish protective acts. And, the only times you do not have to give them minimum statutory notice is if they’ve either worked at the company for fewer than 13 months or if their case involves serious behavior that would count as gross misconduct.

What is considered just cause for terminating an employee in Ireland?

In Ireland, there are several categories of issues that would lead to an employer having fair grounds for dismissal. These include:

  • Incompetence
  • Incapability
  • Misleading an employer about qualifications
  • Ordinary misconduct
  • Redundancy
  • Gross misconduct

You also have the right to terminate a worker if keeping them in your employ would mean you are breaking the law.

In general, you’ll need to prove you not only investigated the matter thoroughly but, particularly in instances that involve competence, capability, and conduct, that you gave the person a fair warning and a reasonable amount of time to improve before you decided to dismiss them.

What qualifies as wrongful dismissal in Ireland?

In Ireland, when an employee is involuntarily terminated, it’s considered wrongful dismissal until the employer can prove they had fair grounds for the decision. This is why it’s so important to put everything in writing and keep great records—the onus will always be on you to prove you were justified in a termination.

What is the law for dismissing a contractor in Ireland?

The termination process for independent contractors in Ireland can vary depending on the terms of the contract, but generally, when it comes to dismissal, contractors are protected by the law the same as employees. In other words, they must receive the same amount of notice and redundancy pay as a person categorized as an employee would.

If an independent contractor is found to be misclassified, they may be entitled to employment standards legislation protections and notice or termination pay in lieu of notice.

What does “continuous employment” mean in Ireland?

If you’ve done even a little bit of reading about hiring and firing in Ireland, you’ll likely have come across the term “continuous employment.” This is a crucial term that will help you figure out how much minimum notice and severance pay an employee is owed once they’ve been involuntarily terminated. A person is considered continuously employed by a company in Ireland regardless of things like layoffs, lockdowns, and business ownership transfers. They’re also considered to be continuously employed if you dismissed and then immediately re-hired them, and taking leaves of absence to participate in strikes doesn’t count against them, either.

Manage the entire lifecycle of your international employees with Rippling

From onboarding to offboarding, Rippling helps you streamline the entire employee lifecycle—globally, and all in one place.

Just click "hire" and Rippling can support your global workforce right out of the box:

  • Set up a localized Irish employment agreement.
  • Pay employees and contractors in Ireland and around the world—without waiting for bank transfers or conversions.
  • Easily stay compliant with Irish overtime, leave, and termination requirements.

Catch Rippling in action and learn how Rippling EOR can monitor the tangled web of global termination requirements—so you don’t have to.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: August 21, 2023

The Author

Carrie Stemke

A freelance writer and editor based in New York City, Carrie writes about HR trends and global workforce management and is the Rippling content team’s expert on hiring know-how in Western Europe.

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