Types of Employment

When considering what type of employment you would like, it is worth exploring some of the different options that may be available. Below we describe the main types of employment available throughout Ireland.

go Full time go Work Sharing
go Fixed Term go Virtual Teams
go Part-time go Shorter Working Year
go Flexitime go eWorking (Teleworking)
go Annulaised Hours go Casual Work
go Job Sharing go Children (under 16yrs)
go Job Splitting go Youths (16 & 17yrs)
go Self Employment

Employee vs Self Employed?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of employment options available - you can be an employee or you are self employed. An employee is someone who works for someone else in return for payment. In Ireland there is no definition of 'employee' in employment law. Instead there is a guide (Code of Practice in determining Employment Status) that contains criteria which can be used to clarify whether a person is employed or self-employed.

The employment status of a person is generally determined by the Revenue Commissioners or the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Importantly, your status as determined by the authorities has legal implications, such as:

  • The way in which tax and PRSI is payable to the Collector-General
    • An employee will have tax and PRSI deducted from his or her income.
    • A self-employed person is obliged to pay preliminary tax and file income tax returns whether or not he or she is asked for them.
  • Entitlement to a number of social welfare benefits, such as unemployment and disability benefits
    • An employee will be entitled to unemployment, disability and invalidity benefits, whereas a self-employed person will not have these entitlements.
  • Other rights and entitlements, for example, under Employment Legislation
    • An employee will have rights in respect of working time, holidays, maternity / paternity / parental leave, protection from unfair dismissal etc.
    • A self-employed person will not have these rights and protection.
  • Public liability in respect of the work done.

If you are working but do not meet the requirements set out as being an employee, then you are regarded as being self-employed. As an employee, there are many different possible workplace arrangements for employment. The following is a brief summary of those arrangements found in Ireland.

Full Time

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Full time workers generally work between 35 and 40 hours per week and receive full weekly wages and conditions for working the hours identified in their 'contract of employment', which is issued automatically, regardless of whether it is written or not. This is the most common form of employment in Ireland. The majority of employees work under open-ended contracts of employment. In other words, the contract continues until such time as the employer or employee ends it.

if you are in full-time employment, you do not have a statutory right to change to part-time employment or to other flexible working arrangements such as job sharing or unpaid time off work. If you wish to change from full-time to part-time work or from part-time to full-time work it is a matter to be agreed between you and your employer.


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Many people are now employed on a fixed-term basis (or on specific purpose contracts). Specified purpose contracts are contracts that are entered into in order to complete a special project or for a special purpose. They are set for a fixed period of time as determined by the employer, and agreed by the employee.

Employees can only work on one or more fixed term contracts for a continuous period of four years. After this the employee is considered to have a contract of indefinite duration (e.g. a permanent contract).

Employees working on repeated fixed-term contracts are covered under the Unfair Dismissals legislation, though they need to have at least one year's continuous service before they can bring a claim under the Unfair Dismissals Act.

Under the Act fixed-term workers cannot be treated less favourably than comparable permanent workers. You can read more about the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) 2003 Act in this explanatory booklet (pdf) from the National Employment Rights Authority.


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A part-time worker is an employee whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of work of a full-time employee (of the same or opposite sex) to whom a part-time employee compares himself/herself.

Some of the benefits of part-time employment include:

  • a guarantee of regular and rostered weekly hours that should not be altered without notice
  • access to paid leave (sick, annual etc) proportionate to the number of hours employed and other entitlements
  • guarantee of a weekly earning that allows for budgeting and access to finance
  • access to minimum notice requirements for termination, redundancy, change of hours, etc.

While many employees have a preference for working part time on a morning only basis, for example to reconcile both family and work responsibilities, many organisations may not be able to accommodate every request, as for example when they must ensure that adequate staffing levels are available to work up to and after 5pm.

The rights of part-time employees in Ireland are protected in law through the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act, 2001.

The Act applies to any part-time worker in Ireland and generally includes the following:

  • Someone working under a contract of employment or apprenticeship
  • Someone employed through an employment agency or
  • Someone holding office under or in the service of the State. (For example, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, civil servants and employees of the Health Service Executive, harbour authority or Education & Training Boards (ETBs)).
  • Someone sharing a job with another person.

In the case of agency workers, the party liable to pay the wages of the employee (the employment agency or client company) will, normally, be considered to be the employer for the purposes of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act. The agency or client company are also responsible for ensuring that the part-time employee is not treated in a less favourable manner than a comparable full-time employee.

In Ireland, part-time work is by far the most prevalent form of flexible working used in both small and medium-sized enterprises.

Note: A part-time worker no longer has to have 13 continuous weeks' service and no longer has to work a minimum of 8 hours per week in order to qualify for protection under the Act

Flexible work arrangements


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Broadly speaking, flexitime schemes allow employees to vary their starting and finishing times of work, outside a compulsory core-time, provided an agreed volume of hours are worked over a given remuneration period. Flexitime schemes are amongst the longest established and most widely utilised forms of flexible, family friendly working arrangements, especially in the public service.

The main purpose of flexible working hours is to provide a more flexible system of attendance for staff. The total number of hours staff are expected to work is the same as it would be for fixed time working. The difference lies in the fact that individuals on flexitime may vary their times of arrival and departure and also the times and length of their lunch break.

It can also mean that if enough hours are worked up, flexi-leave can be taken. However, flexi time must operate within the confines of a work environment and cannot reduce the overall efficiency of the workplace or the service it provides to the public.

The operation of a flexitime system has to be subject to work requirements. In general, there are flexible bands where staff may vary arrival/departure time and core hours of attendance where staff must be in attendance.

For example, the morning flexible band might stretch from 8:00 to 10:00am, from 12:00 to 2:00pm for lunchtime and from 4:00 to 6:00pm for departure time. In this situation, the core hours are 10:00 to 12:00 and from 2:00 to 4:00. Staff can arrive at any time within these bands.

Over a set 'accounting period', generally four weeks, a minimum amount of hours must be worked (generally 139 hours for full-time workers and 69.5 hours for job sharers).

There is widespread agreement that flexitime can make 'good business sense' for the employer, and good work/life balance opportunities for workers.

Flexitime can:

  • enable staff to reconcile, more effectively, work and non-work commitments (including caring responsibilities),
  • result in improved attendance and reduced staff turnover
  • Allow staff a greater degree of control over the pattern of their working day
  • offers a partial solution to the considerable commuting problems experienced by staff in the larger urban areas, such as Dublin.
  • can (from the employers point of view) provide a useful means of monitoring working time.

Flexible hours and flexible working arrangements are generally at the discretion of individual employers and are not governed by specific legislation.

Annualised hours

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This scheme means that an employee is contracted to work a defined number of hours per year rather than per week. Working time can be scheduled to deal with seasonal variations and fluctuations in the demands of the business throughout the year - for example an employee may work longer hours at the one time of the year and shorter hours at another.

Job sharing

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This is an arrangement to divide one full-time job or to share work between two people with the responsibilities and benefits of the job being shared between them. The job can be shared in a number of ways for example:

  • on the basis of a split week; (e.g. 2 and 3 day weeks);
  • on the basis of a split day
  • on the basis of week on, week off.

Good management and communication are essential to effective job-sharing and this can be assisted where the job-sharers can build and operate close working relations.

The advantage of a job-share to the organisation is that the job continues to exist in its fulltime format and a full-time employee can be moved into it at some later stage if desirable. A further advantage is that there are always two people to provide cover - particularly in emergencies. Depending on the needs of the organisation holidays can be taken at the same time or staggered with each job-share partner providing holiday cover for the other. The biggest potential difficulty with job-sharing is finding a suitable partner. This is likely to be easier in large organisations than in small.

Job Splitting

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This is an arrangement similar to job sharing except that the tasks involved in a full-time job are split between two people and each has responsibility for their own tasks rather than being equally responsible for the whole job. The need for co-ordination is, therefore, reduced. An advantage of job splitting is that a job can be split in such a way that certain tasks requiring particular skills can be grouped together. In addition, in certain situations the working times of those who have split a job can also overlap.

Work Sharing

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Work sharing is a development of the job sharing/job splitting concept which attempts to achieve business tasks while allowing for a wider range of attendance patterns. This arrangement requires a high level of employer/employee co-operation with a view to achieving the tasks that make up the job. It is important that the tasks are clearly defined, targets identified and the level of service decided upon before the workload is divided up. At this stage the manager and jobholders can agree on a system of work attendance to complete the work that best accommodates the staff.

In the Civil Service, current examples of attendance patterns include: mornings only, afternoons only, three days per week, four days per week, 9am to 3pm each day, week on/week off and three weeks out of four. Worksharing staff are paid on a pro rata basis.

Virtual Teams

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A further development in this area is the putting together of teams of e-workers to work in a mutually supportive way. The members of the team may never meet and may not even be in the same country. This form of teamwork may be suitable in certain situations but the lack of personal interaction and human contact will render it inappropriate in situations where these factors are considered important.

Shorter Working Year

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Shorter Working Year (previously known as Term Time) leave allows working parents or primary carers to match their working arrangements to the main summer holidays of their children, or to care for a person who resides with them and who has a disability which gives rise to the need for care on a continuing or frequent basis. Departments/offices have discretion to refuse term time applications.

In the civil service, Term Time leave can be taken for either thirteen, ten or eight weeks between the beginning of June and the end of August. You may not take leave (paid or unpaid) in the four weeks immediately prior to and following the period of Term Time. The normal arrangement when on unpaid leave is that you do not receive your salary during the leave. A major advantage of Term Time is that you can apply to have your full years salary spread across the year so that you received a reduced amount all year including while on leave.

To be eligible, a member of staff must have a child or children up to 18 years of age, be acting in loco parentis, or be the primary carer for a person with a disability who needs care on a continuing or frequent basis. [See Organisation Profile: Public Service Jobs]


eWorking (Flexiplace/Teleworking)

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eWorking is defined as any business function that is conducted away from the office using modern communications and information technologies. It can also include a combination of e-Working and office based work. It is well suited to performing information technology tasks and works well in certain situations where the employee has a high degree of autonomy, eg: Architecture,Journalism. Difficulties to be overcome can include issues of control, lack of face to face contact and consistency of service provision.

In the private sector, some organisations are actively using eWorking at an increasing rate for the following reasons:

  • increased productivity - estimates suggest that without distractions common to most offices, workers manage to increase their productivity by between 10% and 40%;
  • the costs of teleworking are lower, e.g. commuting time and costs are abolished;
  • high rental charges for offices in the city are reduced;
  • location of potential employees becomes unimportant;
  • companies can increase employment without having to increase office space or incurring relocation costs, and can plan accurately the space they require;
  • employees are able to strike a better balance between work and family life by choosing a working week combination which best suits their family circumstances;
  • the teleworking scheme is voluntary;
  • different types of teleworking are provided - multi-site teleworking; tele-homeworking; telecontractors/freelance teleworking; telecommuting/mobile teleworking; telecottage and relocated back-office working.

eWorking clearly benefits both employers and employees. With current advances in technology, in which virtual call centres are possible and work can be contracted out, greater opportunities are emerging to include a greater number of job types in the teleworking area. eWorking will be an important option for family members who wish to improve the trade off between hours worked and family/leisure time. 

Casual Work

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Casual workers are people employed as required without fixed hours or attendance arrangements. There is no definition of 'casual employees' in employment law in Ireland. However, these workers are employees, and some legislation will apply, for example, the right to receive a pay slip.

In other instances where a set period of employment is required it will be unlikely that a casual employee will have sufficient service to qualify, for example, two years service is required in order to be entitled to statutory redundancy.

Some of the disadvantages of casual employment may include:

  • no access to paid sick leave
  • no guarantee of hours to be worked
  • no requirement to be given a roster or to receive notice of roster changes therefore making it difficult to plan time for personal reasons
  • no guarantee of regular income so it can be difficult to plan a budget and can limit access to loans from financial institutions
  • no paid annual leave: while a casual worker may receive a payment in lieu of annual leave, this is often spent at the time it is paid, not saved for a period of leave
  • no access to paid public holidays
  • no access to personal or carers leave
  • no notice of termination or access to redundancy entitlement
  • can have limited access to training, career development, access to workplace information and a feeling that their work inputs may be less valued than those of permanent staff.

Children (under 16yrs)

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Children (aged 14 and 15 years) may be employed on light work as follows:

  • Children aged 14 or over may do light work during the school holidays where the hours do not exceed 7 in any day or 35 in any week.
  • Children over 15 but under 16 may do light work up to 8 hours a week during school term time.
  • Children under 16 may work up to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week if they are on an approved work experience or educational programme where the work is not harmful to their health, safety or development. Approved work experience or educational programmes for people under 16 are work experience, training or educational programmes approved by the Minister for Education, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment or by Solas
  • Children under 16 must have at least 21 days off work during the summer holidays.
  • Children can be employed in film, cultural, advertising work or sport under licences issued by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Maximum weekly working hours for children under 16

  14 years of age 15 years of age
School term-time Nil 8 hours
Holidays 35 hours  35 hours
Work experience 40 hours 40 hours

Time off and rest breaks for children under 16

Half hour rest break after 4 hours work
Daily rest break 14 consecutive hours off
Weekly rest break 2 days off, to be consecutive as far as is practicable

Employers may not require children to work before 8am in the morning or after 8pm at night.

Youths (16 & 17yrs)

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The Act sets the following limits to the working hours of young people aged 16 and 17. If a young person under 18 works for more than one employer, the combined daily or weekly hours of work cannot exceed the maximum number of hours allowed.

Working hours, time off and rest breaks for young people aged 16 and 17

Maximum working day 8 hours
Maximum working week 40 hours
Half hour rest break after 4 1/2 hours work
Daily rest break 12 consecutive hours off
Weekly rest break 2 days off, to be consecutive as far as is practicable

Limits on night work and early morning work
In general, young people aged 16 and 17 are not allowed to work before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night. Any exceptions to this rule must be provided by regulation.

The Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 permits young people employed on general duties in a licensed premises to be required to work up to 11 pm on a day that does not immediately precede a school day during a school term where the young person is attending school.

Self Employment

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Choosing self employment, or to run your own business, is something many people wish for. In 2017, 22,304 new companies were incorporated in Ireland. This represents an increase of 6.4% over 2016 volumes. New company incorporations have been increasing steadily and by 2017 the figures for incorportations were 50% higher than in 2012. This is an average of 1,859 new companies registered per month and is the highest number of new company registrations ever in the history of the State.  Click here for more information.

Self-employment is not for everyone. It is not an easy option, but the rewards can be substantial - in terms of financial gain and of self-esteem.
Self-employment requires:

  • total commitment
  • willingness to work long hours
  • physical and mental strength
  • help from your family

Besides the above skills and supports you also need:

  • to have identified a market opportunity
  • to have practical skills or expertise to do the job (for example, bricklaying, gardening, printing, computer programming, consulting)
  • to have some business skills to enable you to run a business.

If you have not got these skills, you will need to learn them - fast.

Benefits of being Self-employed

  • you are the boss - your own master
  • you can work whatever hours you wish
  • you can go on holiday when you want
  • you will learn more about business in your first year than you have ever learned before
  • you will deal with different people and situations

Down side of being Self-employed

  • if you are not working, you are not earning
  • you may not be able to take a holiday during the first two years at least!

When considering setting up your own business, you have a choice of three different types of business - Sole Trader, Partnership, or Limited Company.

1. Sole Trader
This is the most common status for a new business. Being a sole trader means just what it says - you are running the business alone, and are responsible for every aspect of it. You need to ensure you get your money in, pay your bills, deal with the bank, advertise, keep books, ensure your tax and VAT returns are sent in on time, as well as physically work in the business.

If you get into debt, your creditors would have a claim on your personal

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