Know your rights: Retirement age


My employer says that I have to retire when I reach the age of 65. Can an employer make you retire at a certain age?

Answer (June 2017)

There is no single fixed retirement age for employees. If you are employed, your retirement age should be set out in your contract of employment. The usual retirement age in contracts of employment is 65.

Many contracts have provisions for early retirement from age 60 (or in some cases from age 55) and most have provision for early retirement on health grounds. Some occupations – for example, firefighters, An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces – have provisions for earlier retirement.

While employment equality legislation prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age, employers are still allowed to set retirement ages in employment contracts. Since 1 January 2016, under the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 an employer may set a compulsory retirement age if the employer can objectively justify the retirement age of an employee. This could be for health and safety reasons, for example, the physical demands and requirements of the job.

If an employee has reached the employer’s mandatory age of retirement, this legislation provides that they may still be legitimately offered fixed-term contracts, provided that it is objectively justified. The provisions of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 would still apply.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides information on your rights and entitlements under employment legislation. For further information about your contract of employment and retirement age you can contact the WRC’s Information and Customer Service at Lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or through the website,

Know your rights: Medical card and Domiciliary Care Allowance


I’m getting Domiciliary Care Allowance for my daughter so I was happy to hear that medical card cover was being extended to children who qualify for the payment. The medical card application form seems to require a lot of information that doesn’t appear relevant in this situation. Is there another way to apply?

Answer (June 2017)

You don’t need to complete the medical card application form to get the medical card for your daughter. The medical card for children who qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) isn’t subject to a means test so information about your income is not required.

Instead, you can register your child online by going to the website  and clicking on ‘Medical Cards (DCA)’. The site also has a form you can download if you prefer to apply by post.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Your Personal Public Service (PPS) Number and contact details
  • Your child’s PPS Number and date of birth
  • The name and address of your child’s GP

The website includes a list of GPs who are participating in the scheme. If your GP of choice is accepting applications electronically, your child’s details will be sent to them. If not, you will be emailed a copy of the relevant details, which you can print out and bring to the GP.

Once the GP accepts your child to their GMS patient list, the registration will be finalised by the National Medical Card Unit and a medical card in your child’s name will be sent to you.

If you have questions about the medical card, you can call the information line on Lo-call 1890 252 919.

Information for exam students

You can get information about the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams on the State Examinations Commission’s website

There will be regular updates throughout the exam period, 7 June to 23 June 2017.  

During this period, staff will be available to deal with queries from 8.30 am to 9 pm on exam days and from 9.30 am to 1 pm at weekends. The phone number for all enquiries is 090 644 2700.



Know your rights: Disabled Person’s Parking Permit


Can I use my mother’s Disabled Person’s Parking Permit if I’m doing an errand for her?

Answer (June 2017)

The Disabled Person’s Parking Permit can only be used by the person to whom it is issued. The permit shows the name and photograph of the person it has been issued to and you cannot use it unless that person is with you.

The permit allows the holder of the permit to use the public parking spaces that are specifically assigned for vehicles being used by a person with a disability.

These spaces or parking bays have the wheelchair symbol painted on the ground or have a sign with the wheelchair symbol displayed. Most accessible parking bays are located near amenities such as shops and schools.

Car parking spaces with the wheelchair symbol are usually wider than most other car parking spaces to enable drivers or passengers with a disability to get from their car seat to their wheelchair.

A Disabled Person’s Parking Permit is only issued to a person with a disability. The parking permit can be used by the person with the disability for any vehicle they are travelling in. This means that a person with a disability being driven at different times by different people can bring the parking permit and display it in whichever vehicle they are using.

The Disabled Person’s Parking Permit is administered by the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). Both organisations provide detailed information on using the Disabled Person’s Parking Permit.

Carer’s Support Grant will be paid on Thursday

The Carer’s Support Grant for 2017 will be paid on Thursday 1 June.

This grant is an annual payment to carers from the Department of Social Protection. Carers can use it in whatever way they choose. You can use it to pay for respite care if you wish, but you do not have to do so.

In 2017 the grant is €1,700. It is paid automatically to carers who get Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance. If you are not getting one of these payments and you did not get the grant last year, you should fill in an application form (pdf).

Read more about the Carer’s Support Grant.

Water safety advice

The RNLI has useful advice about staying safe in water.

If you see someone in danger of drowning, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. Look for something that floats, or that they can hold on to, and throw it out to them.

If you fall into water, the RNLI advises you to float or rest until you regain control of your breathing, increasing your chances of survival.



Know your rights: Farm Assist means test


How is income from different sources assessed for Farm Assist? I do some contracting as well as farming and my spouse works part-time. We have two children.

Answer (April 2017)

The means test for Farm Assist takes into account virtually every type of income you may have but it assesses different income in different ways.

Your income from farming and other self-employment (like contracting) is assessed as the gross income that you or your spouse may be expected to receive, less any expenses you incur to earn that income. From 8 March 2017, €254 of the income each year is disregarded for each of your two children (it would be €381 for a third or subsequent child). 70% of the balance is assessed (it was 100% up to March 2017).

Payments under rural environmental schemes such as GLAS and SAC are assessed separately from other farm income. €2,540 is deducted from the total amount of all these payments each year and 50% of the remainder is disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with these environmental measures are then deducted and the balance is assessed as means. Income from an occupational pension or leasing of land or milk quotas is assessed in full. Capital (including any property that you do not live in) is assessed using the formula applied to means-tested social welfare payments.

If you have an off-farm job, €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60 per week) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the remainder is assessed as weekly means. Your spouse’s income from employment is assessed in the same way. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will visit you and ask to see various documents. The inspector will then assess the costs incurred in running the farm. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation.

You can get detailed information on how farm income is assessed at