European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case IE-2021-16/1959 – measures in Ireland

Agreement on terms of reference for report on move to Living Wage

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 15 April 2021
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Other
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Case created 13 July 2021 (updated 14 July 2021)

Background information

In April the Government agreed terms of reference for a report by the Low Pay Commission on a move to a Living Wage. The Programme for Government commits to “progress to a living wage over the lifetime of the Government. The Tánaiste has also stated that a living wage could be a legacy from the pandemic.

He said: “The pandemic has caused us to redefine frontline or essential workers and to reconsider the value we place on their work and the reward they should get for that work.

“Traditionally, when we thought of frontline or essential workers, we thought of nurses, doctors, Gardaí or firemen. Generally, people working in the public service with relatively well paid, secure and pensionable jobs. Now with think also of retail workers, drivers, security guards, transport workers and cleaners.

“One of the legacies of the pandemic must be a more inclusive society that rewards work and enterprise better. That means better terms and conditions for lower paid workers. Moving to a living wage is an important part of this. Of course, in doing so we need to recognise that many businesses are closed and are now loss-making, so we must do it in way that that does not cost jobs or cause people’s working hours to be reduced. That would be counter-productive.”

Content of measure

The Low Pay Commission study will examine the design of a living wage in an Irish context. It will consider the policy, social and economic implications of a move to a living wage and the process by which Ireland could progress towards a living wage.

It will examine international evidence, different calculation methods and policy implications of moving to a living wage in Ireland.

The Commission will complete the report in the second half of 2021 and will submit it to the Tánaiste for consideration.

Terms of Reference for Living Wage Study.

The report will take account of:

  • National and International experience of a Living Wage
  • A Living Wage in Ireland
  • Policy implications of moving to a Living Wage
  • Moving towards a Living Wage in Ireland

Use of measure


Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social partners jointly
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
Other social actors (e.g. NGOs)
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The social partners have members on the Low Pay Commission. The Commission has been asked to investigate how Ireland can move towards a living wage and will report in the second half of 2021.

The Low Pay Commission is made up of representatives of the social partners and other stakeholders and makes recommendations to Government on the rate of the National Minimum Wage.

Views and reactions

The Small Firms Association has said now is not the time to discuss putting additional costs on business.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director of Small Firms Association said: "Small businesses are dealing with a huge amount of anxiety and the path to reopening seems to be getting longer every day. They need to know what this pathway will look like and they need to know sooner than later. "We will see increased minimum wage, increase in family leave, statutory sick pay will be introduced, we have Brexit costs and now this morning the idea of a living wage being introduced. This is the wrong time for this."

Laura Bambrick, head of social policy and employment affairs at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), said the current minimum wage is not enough to protect employees from the risk of poverty. For a lot of people there will “never be a good time” to have a conversation regarding minimum living wages, Ms Bambrick said.



Eurofound (2021), Agreement on terms of reference for report on move to Living Wage, case IE-2021-16/1959 (measures in Ireland), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.