Payment of Wages Act 1991
This Act is designed to ensure that every employee is paid by way of a readily negotiable mode of wage payment. An employee must be paid in cash, by cheque, credit transfer, by postal/money order or by bank draft. It is prohibited to pay an employee in vouchers, for example, or in groceries or by the provision of goods instead of wages.
This Act gives all employees in Ireland the right to a written statement of wages (pay slip) which shows the gross wage and details of all deductions. A pay slip is essentially a statement in writing from the employer to the employee that outlines the total pay before tax and all details of any deductions from pay and it must be included with each pay packet. Where an employee is paid by credit transfer, the pay slip should be given to the employee as early as possible after the credit
transfer has taken place.
An employer may not make deductions from your wages unless:
- They are required by law, for example, tax (PAYE) and social insurance (PRSI),
- They are provided for in the contract of employment, for example occupational pension contributions.
- They are made with your written consent, for example, trade union subscriptions
- They are to recover an overpayment of wages or expenses
- They are required by a court order, for example, an attachment of earnings order in a family law case
- They arise due to your being on strike.
Where your employer suffers loss through your fault, for example breakages or till shortages or your employer supplies a service as part of the job, for example, a uniform, deductions may be allowed but only where:
- They are allowed for in your contract
- They are fair and reasonable
- You have received a written notice of the deduction – a full week’s notice if the deduction arises from your mistake
- The amount of the deduction does not exceed the loss or cost of the service
- The deduction takes place within six months of the loss/cost occurring.
Complaints about unauthorised deductions from wages under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 should be made to your SIPTU official, who can bring the case to a Rights Commissioner. A complaint must be brought within six months of the date of the deduction. The Rights Commissioner may extend the time limit for up to a further six months, but only where there are exceptional circumstances which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.
An employer who fails to provide a pay slip or provides one that is deliberately falsified is guilty of an offence under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 and may be fined.