Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Shane Callanan from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

Shane Callanan

Electronic Engineer

Smart Futures

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Shane Callanan
Being an Engineer is a great career choice. It offers so many opportunities both in Ireland and world-wide. Most positions will have terrific travel opportunities after a few years experience under your belt, and if you choose you course carefully your qualification will be recognised by employers all over the globe. Also an engineering qualification will open doors into management roles if that is your preferred career choice, but the reverse is not the case (if you do a course outside of engineering, you will probably not be able to branch off into engineering a few years after graduating).

Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Employee Rights

There have been substantial changes in the field of employment protection in Ireland in recent years. All legisation changes are described in a series of documents which can be accessed here. Full details of the legislation is available at

As an employee, you are entitled to receive certain basic employment rights. Although some industries entitle employees to different rights, the list below is the minimum you should receive.

  • A written statement of terms and conditions of employment. Whilst the full contract does not have to be in writing, certain terms and conditions of your employment must be stated in writing within two months of starting employment. These would typically include the method of calculating pay and whether or not there is a sick pay scheme in operation. (For fixed term employees it would also include in what circumstances your employment will come to an end.)
  • A written statement of pay or ‘payslip’. Your payslip should set out gross pay and list all deductions made from it.
  • A minimum wage

Experienced adult workers in Ireland are entitled to be paid €9.25 per hour [from 1 January 2017]. However, the national minimum wage (NMW) does not stop an employer from offering a higher wage.

There are some exceptions to the minimum wage, including those employed by close relatives, those aged under 18 and trainees or apprentices.

National Minimum Wage Rates [2017]
  Minimum hourly rate of pay % of minimum wage
Experienced adult worker €9.25* 100%
Aged under 18 (70% of minimum wage) €6.48 70%
First year from date of first employment aged over 18 €7.40 80%
Second year from date of first employment aged over 18 €8.32 90%

Note: There are also certain industries in Ireland where a higher minimum wage applies, including the construction industry. Further information on these industries is available here.

*From 1st January 2018 the Minimum wage rate increases to €9.55.

Young people

As a young person, you have rights when you are at work. It is important that you make yourself aware of your rights and entitlements and exercise them.

For a regular full-time job, the minimum age is 16. If you are aged 14 or 15:

  • You can only do light work during the school holidays.
  • You can take part in work experience during term time.
  • You must have at least a 3-week break during the summer holidays.
  • You may be employed in film, theatre, sports or advertising (under licence).

Maximum hours of work per week

As a young person, you cannot be asked to work beyond the maximum hours for your age.

Hours of work
  aged 14 years  aged 15 years aged 16/17/ years
During term time none 8 hours per week

40 hours per week

(max. 8 hours per day)

During holiday time

35 hours per week

(max. 7 hours per day)

35 hours per week

(max. 7 hours per day)

40 hours per week
Work experience

40 hours per week

(max. 8 hours per day)

40 hours per week

(max. 8 hours per day)

40 hours per week

All workers have the following basic rights

  • A maximum working week average of 48 hours a week based on an average calculated over a four, six, or twelve-month period depending on the industry. Your employer must keep a record of how many hours you work.
  • Unpaid breaks during working hours
    • You have the right to a 15-minute break if working four and a half hours of work and a 30-minute break if working six hours of work.
  • Annual leave from work
    • Full-time workers have the right to four working weeks paid annual leave per year. Part-time workers have the right to a proportional amount of annual leave based on the amount of time they work.
  • A minimum amount of notice before dismissal
  • You are entitled to a minimum amount of notice if your employment ceases. The minimum amount of notice depends on the length of service. 

Employment Law Explained is a usefull information booklet downloadable from the National Employment Rights Authority.

The main bodies dealing with the enforcement of employment rights are:

  • National Employment Rights Authority (NERA)
    • The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) was established under the Social Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016"  to achieve a national culture of employment rights compliance. It provides information to employees and employers through its information unit, monitors employment conditions through its inspection services and can enforce compliance and seek redress.
  • Rights Commissioners (attached to the Labour Relations Commission)
    • Rights Commissioners investigate disputes, grievances and claims that individuals or small groups of workers refer under a range of employment legislation.
  • Labour Court
    • The Labour Court was established to provide a free, comprehensive service for the resolution of disputes about industrial relations, equality, organisation of working time, national minimum wage, part-time work and fixed-term work matters.
  • Employment Appeals Tribunal
    • The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent body established to provide a speedy, inexpensive and relatively informal means for adjudication of disputes on employment rights under the various legislations that come within the Tribunal’s scope.  Their goal is that customers using the service will be satisfied overall with the service they have received from the Tribunal.
  • Equality Tribunal
    • The Equality Tribunal is the impartial forum to hear or mediate complaints of alleged discrimination under equality legislation. It is independent and quasi-judicial and its decisions and mediated settlements are legally binding.
  • Health and Safety Authority
    • The HSA is the state sponsored body in Ireland with responsibility for securing safety, health and welfare at work and operate under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.  Working in partnership with employers and employees, our responsibility is to ensure that safety and health in the workplace is a key priority for everyone.

The Department of Social Protection is responsible for compliance with the
social welfare aspects of employment and the Revenue Commissioners are responsible for the tax compliance aspects of employment law.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has a role in relation to employment permits, as does the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

The Pensions Board has a role in relation to occupational pensions and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs).

Employer Rights & Responsibilities

Employment law has become increasingly complex over the past number of years and there are over 30 pieces of major employment legislation in Ireland. The need for organisations to ensure compliance with legislation is greater than ever, as the level of claims, inspections and fines are increasing each year.

IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) provide a useful section on Employment Law on their website to assist employers understand the issues they may be faced with.


Be Tactful


Tact is knowing what to say (or not say) and when to say it (or not say it). Without sacrificing the message or the truth, deliver your message in such a way that it honours the humanity of the other person involved.