· Features

A postcard from... Ireland

Our 'postcard from' series keeps your updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

Ireland has a small, highly globalised economy, with a large export sector and a significant number of multinational corporations. It entered its fifth year of expansion in 2016 with growth in consumer spending, tax revenue, building and construction, manufacturing, and services.


Ireland has the youngest population in Europe, with a third of the population under 25.

Legal lowdown

Having been part of the British Commonwealth until 1949, Ireland’s legal system is very similar to that of the UK. But there are some fundamental differences, explains Melanie Crowley, employment partner at Mason Hayes & Curran.

Protection from dismissal in Ireland kicks in after 12 months’ service when dismissals are presumed to be unfair and the onus is on the employer to prove otherwise. If an employer cannot satisfy the Workplace Relations Commission that a dismissal was fair an adjudicator can order reinstatement, re-engagement or compensation of up to two years’ remuneration.

A 48-hour cap on the working week applies to all employees. There is also an onus on employers to ensure workers take rest breaks and annual leave, and to record employees’ working time.

The basic principles of the Irish regulations that implement the Acquired Rights directive are the same as those in the UK. However, there is a significant difference in determining whether TUPE regulations apply to a given set of facts. In Ireland the application of TUPE regulations must be triggered and will not automatically apply.


For employers the most significant impact is likely to be on the free movement of personnel between Ireland and the UK. While the reintroduction of the common travel area has been raised, any bilateral arrangement between the UK and Ireland will likely need the consent of the EU. Another area of uncertainty is UK/Ireland cross-border pension schemes. The establishment of these was made possible by EU legislation, which may not be retained post-Brexit.

From the HR frontline

“It is a bit of a stereotype but I do believe the Irish are genuine and friendly as work colleagues,” says David Collings, professor of human resource management at Dublin City University Business School. “Culturally the Irish are relatively informal and people often rely on informal networks.”

He adds: “A key advantage of the Irish labour market is a very high level of education. High levels of third-level education combined with the presence of so many global players means highly qualified and experienced talent is available.”