Working in Ireland

Salary and working hours

It isn’t immediately obvious what salary you should command in Ireland, as wages and salaries aren’t usually quoted in job advertisements.

As trade unions are still influential in Ireland, wages are often negotiated on a collective basis and are therefore broadly similar in different industries and areas.

Regional differences in salary are generally smaller than differences between industry sectors. Whereas the best paid sectors used to be mining and the chemical industries, it’s now IT and financial services, which enjoy the highest pay, though chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing is still well rewarded.

Other above average sectors are communications (including telecommunications and transport); food, drink and tobacco processing; medical appliance manufacturing; oil and gas exploration (there’ll be a particularly large bonus for the first person actually to find oil in Ireland!); and construction. Among the worst paid sectors are material manufacturing (including metal, plastics, textiles, rubber, leather, glass and pottery), printing and publishing, electrical and electronic engineering, and distribution.

Bigger companies tend to pay better than smaller ones (which also often expect employees to work longer hours); for a similar job you would expect to earn 30 per cent more in a company with over 500 staff than in a company with fewer than 50 staff. In terms of departments, the best paid managers are those in production and manufacturing, followed by those in IT, administration and marketing or sales, finance and accounting, and finally HR. The best executive jobs tend to be in marketing followed by sales, finance and technical departments.

Non-executive salaries are established by a process of collective bargaining and annual increases determined by national wage agreements, the latest, called Partnership 2000, introducing a series of tax cuts which will effectively increase take-home pay by up to 14 per cent over three years.

Working Hours & Overtime

The Irish generally aren’t workaholics; they value their social life too highly for that. They won’t work weekends if something can wait until Monday, nor work long hours or take an evening job unless they have to. The standard Irish office day is from 9am until 5.30pm with an hour for lunch, taken between 12 and 2pm. Many offices, including government departments, are closed between 12.30 and 2pm.

The average Irish working week is 39 hours and the legal maximum 48 hours (note that this is a four-month average, so your actual working hours could fluctuate considerably). Working hours are governed by EU directives, which stipulate that you’re entitled to a minimum of 11 hours’ continuous rest in every 24 hours and at least one rest period in a working day of more than six hours. You’re also entitled to at least 24 hours’ continuous rest every week. Employers are required to compensate staff for Sunday working (i.e. pay them more than their normal daily wage) and night workers are entitled to a free health assessment before starting night work and at regular intervals thereafter.

This article is an extract from Living and working in Ireland. Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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