Understanding employee benefits in Ireland: A complete guide

Benefits play a vital role in helping an organisation to attract and retain high-quality talent.

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In Ireland, many employers include benefits in their compensation package to attract workers to their open positions. It’s wise to familiarise yourself with these potential benefits while job hunting to know which opportunities align best with your personal and professional needs.

Key benefits of significant value for Irish employees include health insurance, paid sick leave, and pensions. While specific benefits, such as pension contributions, are mandated by Irish law, others, like health insurance and extra paid leave, are discretionary. 

It’s common for employers to include additional benefits to attract skilled workers to their open positions. Employers may also provide perks at work like flexible working arrangements, which are becoming more in demand with employees in Ireland. 

In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about employee benefits in Ireland. 

What are employee benefits?

Employee benefits are additional perks offered alongside a salary. Benefits are an essential part of the compensation to attract and retain high-quality talent in an organisation. They serve not only as an incentive to work at a particular company but also as a way for businesses to promote and maintain a satisfied and motivated workforce.

Modern workers are increasingly looking beyond their take-home pay when searching for jobs. Some may value flexibility in working hours, while others prioritise health insurance for themselves and their family. These preferences can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and life stages.

The importance of employee benefits

Employee benefits incentivise employees to join and stay with a company. They significantly contribute to overall satisfaction levels, motivation, and productivity. In Ireland, the emphasis on employee benefits reflects a broader understanding of their role in creating a positive and productive workplace culture.

Here’s what an employee gets out of benefits:

  • Family support: Benefits like parental leave, child care assistance, and family health insurance plans help employees support their family.
  • Tax advantages: Certain benefits, such as retirement savings plans and health savings accounts, offer tax free bonus, reducing the overall tax burden for employees.
  • Financial security: Benefits like life insurance, disability insurance, and health plans offer protection against unforeseen circumstances.
  • Health and wellbeing: Access to health insurance, mental health support, wellness programs, and gym memberships contribute to the physical and mental health of employees.

For employers, here are the benefits of adding additional perks:

  • Tax benefits: Employers can often claim tax deductions for providing employee benefits.
  • Retain top talent: A competitive benefits package can be a deciding factor in retaining high-performing employees, reducing the costs and disruptions associated with high staff turnover.
  • Employee loyalty: Boost loyalty and commitment among employees with a meaningful benefits package with perks like flexible working, employee assistance programs, and paid sick leave.
  • Positive company culture: Benefits that support work-life balance, employee health, and wellbeing contribute to a positive workplace culture.

A good benefits package is a net positive for the employer and employee. The company becomes a more attractive workplace, and employees can feel more secure and supported in their roles.

Navigating the landscape of employee benefits in Ireland

Employee benefits can be divided into two categories: statutory and non-statutory. The first group are those mandated by Irish laws, which all employers must provide. The second benefit group is the additional perks a company may offer to attract talent.

Statutory employee benefits in Ireland

Statutory employee benefits refer to the employee rights in Ireland mandated by law, including the following:

  • Paid annual leave: Employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per year.
  • Parental leave: Provisions for maternity and parental leave include at least 26 weeks of paid leave for expecting mothers, with an option for an additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave. New parents (not including the mother) are entitled to two weeks of leave in the first six months following the child’s birth or adoption.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: Mandatory insurance benefits employees with job-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Paid sick leave: Employees are entitled to paid sick leave, ensuring they are financially covered during illness. Sick leave is only mandatory after a worker has been with a company for 13 weeks or more.
  • Domestic violence leave: A recent addition to an employee’s statutory benefits includes introducing 5 days of domestic violence leave, showcasing Ireland’s progressive approach to employee rights and support.

In 2023, Ireland enacted the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, which sets out family-friendly incentives. Deirdre Malone of EY Law Ireland highlights the law’s focus on flexible working:

“The Work-Life Balance Directive encourages men and women to avail of more flexible ways of working to enable employees to share their personal caring responsibilities without sacrificing their careers.”

When job searching in Ireland, check the list of benefits included in the job posts. At Recruit Ireland, job seekers can see detailed descriptions of the benefits offered by employers. They can compare this to the perks they’re most interested in.

Non-statutory employee benefits

Non-statutory employee benefits are the additional perks employers offer that go beyond what’s mandated by Irish law. Here is a look at some of the benefits that may be offered:

  • Health insurance: Many employers offer private health insurance plans for faster, specialised care, and in some cases, this may extend to family members.
  • Pensions: Various pension schemes, including Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA), with some employers matching employee contributions.
  • Flexible working arrangements: Options like remote work, 4-day weeks, and flexible hours are becoming more attractive to employees.
  • Tax-free bonuses: Employees can buy goods and services using their paycheck before tax is deducted, providing financial benefits to employees.
  • Additional paid leave: Some companies may entice workers by offering extra paid leave days above the statutory minimum.
  • Subsidised gym memberships: Offering an on-site gym or a discounted membership with a local partner to help encourage physical health and wellness.

Non-statutory benefits, while not required by law, can be a deciding factor for many job seekers looking at prospective employers. The additional perks often reflect the company’s commitment to the wellbeing and development of its staff.

In fact, some people stay in work past retirement thanks to the benefits offered by employment. Offering non-statutory benefits is a great way to keep good people around longer.

Most desired employee benefits for today’s modern job seekers 

Irish employees are taking more care to consider the benefits offered by prospective employers. As flexible working and a better work-life balance become increasingly important, job seekers are looking for companies that offer competitive salaries and provide benefits that cater to their overall wellbeing and personal needs.

Here are some of the most important ways Irish employers can support their staff through benefits:

  • Flexible work arrangements: The ability to work remotely or have flexible working hours is highly valued. Many companies are opting to offer hybrid working arrangements. This flexibility acknowledges the 9-5 lifestyle doesn’t work for everyone. 
  • Health insurance: Private health insurance plans cover employees in case of a personal or family emergency, which means they can get help when needed. This may also include access to a dental plan or vouchers for eye care.
  • Professional development opportunities: Opportunities for training, workshops, and further education are highly sought by ambitious employees looking for career growth and skill enhancement.
  • Work from home days: The opportunity to work from home some or all of the week. These options can save employees money on their commute and promote a healthier work-life balance.
  • Mental health support: Access to mental health resources and employee assistance programs (EAPs) are increasingly important in high-pressure work environments.

Adding some or all of these non-statutory benefits can give a company a competitive edge in attracting and retaining skilled employees. Irish employers who adapt their benefits packages to meet workers’ changing needs and values will likely stand out as employers of choice in the job market.

Top tips for creating employee benefits packages 

Creating a benefits package that draws the attention of prospective employees requires a strategic approach that compliments statutory benefits with supplementary perks.

  • Flexible work Arrangements: Consider adding flexible work arrangements where this makes sense. Offering remote working opportunities or flexibility around hours can dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of employees. The Work-Life Balance Directive gives employees the right to request flexible arrangements, and the employer must consider this.
  • Include professional development opportunities: Arranging training seminars, workshops, and mentoring opportunities demonstrates to employees that their company is invested in their future.
  • Rollout mental health initiatives: Providing access to mental health support improves employee wellbeing. Care and understanding help to retain employees by creating a more supportive work environment. 
  • Boost company profile: Including programs like the Cycle-To-Work scheme gives employees a tax incentive to ride to work instead of driving. This is also better for the environment, a must-have for any business conscious of its carbon footprint. 
  • List employee benefits in the job spec:  Employers should clearly outline the benefits in the job specifications. This transparency helps candidates make informed decisions and indicates the company’s commitment to employee wellbeing.

Recruit Ireland lists hundreds of jobs across Ireland, providing a platform where job seekers can compare benefits offered by different employers, making it easier to find a role that aligns with their needs.

Find out more about employee benefits with Recruit Ireland

As employees look for comprehensive benefits packages alongside their annual salary, it’s more important than ever for employers to offer the right perks. Whether it’s extra support for new families or giving people the option to choose their own hours, these benefits can significantly improve job satisfaction and employee retention.

Head over to Recruit Ireland for more information on what benefits are being offered by Ireland’s range of industries. From executive jobs to graduate schemes to entry-level roles, Recruit Ireland provides a detailed overview of the benefits packages for each job role. 



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