Doing Business In Ireland

Author:Ms Corbett Gordon
Profession:Fisher & Phillips LLP

If the Celtic Tiger roars again and your company responds to the call, are you familiar with basic employment laws in Ireland?

Beginning in the 1970's, the Republic of Ireland adjusted its business tax law for foreign investors and set out to establish itself as a hub for multinational businesses. It succeeded well in that endeavor but then experienced the same economic downturn as most of the rest of the world in the late 80's. It appears that Ireland is attempting to come back economically through foreign investment once more. As reported in The Irish Times on May 17, 2012, an organization called Startupbootcamp had, since January, hosted ten startups in an accelerator program in a warehouse in Dublin. In mid-May, these startups each pitched their ideas – ranging from Opara, a Brazilian startup that developed a system to trace fruit and vegetables to Pombai, a US-China startup that created software that allows one to book travel abroad without knowing the local language – to one hundred investors from around the world who gathered for that purpose.

According to IBM Venture Capital's Martin Kelly, the ultimate goal of Startupbootcamp, with which he is affiliated, is to create in Dublin an international hub for startups. The Irish Times quoted Kelly as saying, "My view is that it's not really country versus country, it's city versus city. Why Dublin? All the major multinationals are here. It's really well positioned between the US, Europe and Asia. It's easy to connect with people here; it's big enough to be interesting yet small enough to move around." Since relaxing its tax laws in the mid-70's to attract foreign businesses, Ireland has been successful in developing itself as a player on the multinational scene.

Employment in Ireland is closely regulated through both national laws as well as EU Directives. Some key features of Irish employment law, separate and apart from EU Directives, are described here.


The Equality Act 2004 and the Equality Act 1998 which it amends prohibit discrimination in employment based on gender, marital status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership in the Traveller Community (the Traveller Community generally is a group of nomadic people of Irish ethnic origin who have their own traditions and language). Amending the Equal Status Act 2000, the Equality Act expands the definition of sexual harassment and places the burden of proof on the...

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