Core Facts

  • Population:  4.7M
  • GDP:  USD 284 billion
  • GDP per head:  USD 65,250
  • Workforce:  2M
  • Unemployment (2017):  6.2%
  • Average monthly manufacturing wages (2017):  USD 4,043


Like many EU members, Ireland’s labour market became increasingly regulated over the last 30 years both at individual and collective levels. Irish labour law is contained in a range of statutes many deriving from and consistent with EU Directives.

At the collective level, before the 2008 financial crisis, Ireland followed a social partnership model involving centralised national collective bargaining covering wage and benefit increases and other issues such as education, training and infrastructure. This was a one size fits all approach that was often followed voluntarily by employers in non-unionised sectors.

After the financial crisis of 2008, the social partnership model collapsed and the country’s industrial relation system became increasingly fragmented with diverging practices between public and private sectors and between workplaces.  In 2015, a new law came into force which introduced long awaited reforms to simplify and harmonise the current system.