Domestic workers' employment rights

Employer's duties and obligations


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What is the definition of a domestic worker?

The ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No189) defines a domestic worker as any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship in or for a household or households.

Domestic work can include cleaning, cooking, laundry, childminding, care for elderly or sick family member, gardening & maintenance, driving and any other duties relating to a househlod.

What employment rights apply?

Domestic workers have the same rights as all other workers in Ireland. In 2007 the Labour Relations Commission, now the Workplace Relations Commission produced a Code of Practice for Protecting Persons Employed in Other People’s Homes, For more see here This sets out the rights of persons employed in private homes.

The rights of a domestic worker are as follows:

  • To recieve a written statement of terms and conditions of employment or a written contrtact of employment and a written statement of five core terms within five days of starting work. For more see here

  • To receive a written statement of pay (Payslip) For more see here

  • To be paid at least the National Minimum Wage For more see here

  • To avail of annual leave and public holidays For more see here

  • To work an average of no more than a 48 hour working week For more see here

  • To receive a premium for work performed on a Sunday

  • To be given breaks/rest periods

  • To receive minimum notice before dismissal For more see here

  • To work in a safe and healthy working environment

  • A right to privacy and to pursue personal leisure activities

  • To be registered as an employee with Revenue and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

  • Not to be discriminated against because of gender,family, civil marital status,age, disability, race, sexual orientation,religion or membership of the travelling community For more see here

  • Not to have personal documents (e.g passport, id , drivers licence etc) retained by employers

  • Equal rights for part time , fixed term and agency workers

  • Special protections for young persons in employment For more see here

  • Maternity entitlements For more see here


What deductions can be made from my wages?

If your employer is providing bed and board (Food) for you as part of your employment, then this can be deducted from your earnings. The following conditions must apply before the employer can make these deductions:

  • The deduction must be fair and reasonable

  • It must be stated in your employment contract

  • You must be given written notice of the deduction.

Other deductions, for example, breakages or loss to the emp[loyer must also meet these criteria.

The following amounts are included in the minimum wage calculation:

  • For board (Food) only; €0.87 per hour worked

  • For lodgings only; €23.15 per week or €3.32 per day



Case law

A Domestic Worker v An Employer (Dec-E2011-117)

In this case the Equality officer made an award of €46,000 to an Au Pair for race discrimination. The Au Pair was originally hired as a child minder but was forced to work as a live-in house keeper instead.

The employee stated that she was subjected to verbal abuse and threatened with dismissal on several occassions. She further claimed that as she had never been given a payslip, this left her vunlerable to exploitation.

The Decision:

The Equality officer who heard the case found that the employment contract which had been put in place, breached Irish employment law. The Equality officer stated “I am satisfied that an Irish employee would not have been placed in such a vulnerable position”. The fact that the worker was in a foreign country, without appropriate employment documentation and without an appropriate support network meant that she was in a very vulnerable position and the businessman in this case acted inappropriately given these facts. The worker also depended on the businessman for accommodation and when she was told to leave the job this basic right was taken away from her. The deciding officer in the case confirmed “I am satisfied that the respondent (businessman) dismissed the claimant in this manner without due process and without explanation because of her vulnerable situation” and that “an Irish worker would not have been dismissed in this manner”.

The award:

The employee was awarded €46,000



Where can I get more help?

If you would like more help with your case, you can contact us using the orange Yes! Tell Me More button below.





Download your copy of Employment Rights of Domestic Workers in Ireland here



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