WRC Guidance on Unpaid Workers

Last updated: June 22nd, 2022

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) recently published an update pertaining to unpaid workers in the Republic of Ireland. In their update, the WRC stated:

“Apart from the employment of close family relatives and the engagement of registered industrial apprentices, there is no exemption in law from the obligation to pay the national minimum hourly rate of pay. Therefore, national minimum wage rates apply to work experience placements, work trials, internships and any other employment practice involving unpaid work or working for room and board, regardless of the duration of the engagement.”

The WRC’s statement clearly sets out their position in terms of unpaid workers, specifically that all individuals engaged by an organisation to carry out work or provide a service for that organisation has an implied contract of employment and therefore is covered by the provisions of The National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

The legislation defines a contract of employment as any agreement between an individual and another party where the individual agrees to perform personally, any work or service for that person or a third party.

The WRC handle complaints from individuals under this legislation and on receipt of same an adjudication officer is appointed to hear the complaint.

The Adjudication Officer has the power to order an employer to pay in full any wages due to an individual. Employers should also be mindful that a breach of this legislation is considered a criminal offence and upon summary conviction, an employer could be fined up to €2,500 and or subject to six months imprisonment.

If you have questions in relation to unpaid workers, you can speak with our advice department on 1890 253 369

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