Employment Agencies

Employment Agencies Licence

The Employment Agency Act of 1971 provides for the regulation of employment agencies.  A person may not carry on the business of an employment agency except under and in accordance with a licence under the Act.

An application for a licence is made to the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment.  An advertisement is to be published in a daily newspaper circulating in the State in a prescribed form.

The Minister grants the licence if satisfied

  • that the premises conform to the prescribed standards of accommodation,
  • the applicant conforms to the prescribed standards of suitability and fitness,
  • and has not been convicted of an offence under the Act in the period five years.

The Minister may prescribe the standards of accommodation in respect of premises for use for the business of an employment agency and standards of fitness and the suitability for applicant.


The Act exempts certain categories of business, including

  • organisations with a special responsibility for work specifically devoted to, physically and mentally handicapped persons;
  • education and training establishment which as part of its operations helps to place in employment its pupils, graduates and trainees;
  • organisations primarily engaged in charitable and social work;
  • trade unions, and organisations of employers.

The legislation does not apply to schemes relating

  • to employment or recruitment of staff and administered under the direction of a government department, or
  • to the holder of the recruitment licence under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act.

Other exemptions may be granted by ministerial order.

Revocation & Refusal

Where a holder of a licence has been convicted of an offence under the legislation has given false information in his application or where in the opinion of the Minister is no longer a suitable person to carry out the business or the premises fails to meet the prescribed standards, the Minister may revoke the licence.

Where the Minister proposes to revoke the licence, a notice is given to the holder, who may appeal to the High Court.

Where the Minister refuses to grant a licence, the licence applicant is to be noted and may within 21 days appeal to the High Court.  The High Court may allow or dismiss the appeal and, the licence is issued accordingly.

Charging Fees

A person carrying out the business of an employment agency shall not charge fees or expenses, in respect of services rendered in excess of a scale approved by the Minister.  They must prepare and submit to the Minister as may be required, a scale of such fees and expenses.

A person carrying on the business of an employment agency shall not charge any fee solely for agreeing to seek employment for another or solely for agreeing to seek persons who will give or accept employment.


Generally, the Minister has power to make regulations for the purpose of the Act including regulations:

  • requiring the employment agency to keep records in a prescribed form;
  • prescribing the form of records;
  • requiring furnishing of annual returns to the Minister;
  • prevention of fraud in the carrying out of business;
  • safeguarding of third party’s moneys;
  • requiring display of licences,
  • scale of fees and expenses
  • requiring production of information to officers of the Minister;
  • requiring, holders of licences to obtain and keep and if so required produce to the Minister in advance of seeking persons for employment outside the State, evidence of the authority to act on persons offering such employment and information in relation to the terms of employment;
  • requiring, in the case of a notice in a publication in the State seeking a person for employment outside the State or offering to obtain such employment for a citizen of the State, the inclusion in the notice of the name and address of the person outside the State seeking a person or offering employment or the name of the holder and the name of the licence holder under the Act;
  • requiring in the case of an employment agency seeking persons under the age of 18 for employment outside the State or offering such employment, such information as may be specified in the regulations relating to the employment outside the State.


Officers of the Minister have powers to enter premises in which business of employment agency is conducted.  They may inspect records and books and where there is reasonable grounds for believing the legislation was being contravened, take copies of records etc. They may require any person carrying on business of an employment agency or proposing to do so to furnish information as is reasonably required to ascertain that the agency is not in contravention of the legislation.

It is an offence

  • to obstruct or impede an authorised officer,
  • to fail or refuse to give the information demanded or
  • to give false or misleading particulars.

The offence is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €2000 and in the case of a continuing offence up to €1000 per day thereafter.

In the case of offences committed by bodies corporate, directors, managers, secretaries, and other officers are deemed guilty of the offence if it has been committed with their consent or approval order has been facilitated by any wilful neglect on their part.