Work permits

Before any employer can consider offering a job to a prospective employee in Ireland, one of the first issues they must clarify is the immigration status of the prospective employee.

The Employment Permits Acts, 2003 – 2014 recognise the automatic right of EEA nationals to work in Ireland while providing a system for the granting, refusal or revocation of employment permits for non-EEA nationals.

Work permit types

There are currently nine employment permits set out below:

  • The General Employment Permit
  • The Critical Skills Employment Permit
  • Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit
  • The Reactivation Employment Permit
  • The Internship Employment Permit
  • Contract for Services Employment Permits
  • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits
  • Sport and Cultural Employment Permits
  • Exchange Agreement Employment Permits.


There are specific criteria to meet before each category of permit is issued. The majority of work permits are granted to meet labour or skills shortages in the workforce.  The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is the authoritative body that is responsible for the assessment and granting of such permits.

Employer obligation to confirm employee’s permission to work

As an employer, you are required to have proof on file of work eligibility for all of your employees. It is good practice is to ask all prospective employees if they require a work permit to work in the Republic of Ireland. On commencement of employment, you can ask to see a copy of their passport or relevant permit.  You should record the relevant details on the passport bearing in mind that you are not permitted to take a photocopy of the passport under GDPR. Do take a photocopy of work permit details as you will need to produce this if requested by the authorities. Never assume an employee is eligible to work in Ireland and always ask every prospective employee, not just employees that you feel may need a work permit based on their name or work history as this would be discriminatory under employment equality legislation.

Severe sanctions

An employer who employs an employee without a valid work permit is guilty of an offence and is liable of a fine up to €250,000 and/or 10 years in prison.

Recent case law

A Dublin supermarket was ordered to pay €750 to a charity to avoid a conviction and a heavier fine for hiring an employee without a valid work permit. The Workplace Relations Commission prosecuted the company after they inspected the premises. The employee was of Indian nationality and held a stamp 3 status which does not entitle him to work in the state. A stamp 3 visa includes visitors; retired people of independent means; ministers of religion and members of religious orders; and spouses and dependents of employment permit holders. The directors of the company pleaded for leniency and said they were not aware of their legal requirements.

It is essential for employers with a diverse workforce to be familiar with work permit and employment equality laws. Call the advice line on 01 886 0350 to discuss this or any other HR issue with one of our experts.

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