Employers Guide to PRSI Contributions - SW3

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The nature of employment mainly determines the PRSI contribution class that applies to the employee.

PRSI Class A applies to the majority of employees in the private sector and to employees recruited in the public sector since 6 April 1995.


Since April 1991 the level of earnings, not the number of hours worked, determines insurability.

You can get full details of the main contribution classes and examples of both the employees covered by each class and the rate of contribution appropriate to each class from the SW 14 booklet.

Contribution Class A applies to people in industrial, commercial and service-type employment under a contract of service and civil and public servants recruited since 6 April 1995, whose combined reckonable earnings from all employments bring them into Class A.

The appropriate subclass within Class A is based on the earnings in each separate employment (see codes within PRSI classes in paragraph 27).

Contribution Class J applies to the following groups of people:

  • employees in industrial, commercial and service-type employment under a contract of service, whose combined weekly reckonable earnings from all employments are below the threshold for Class A (less than €38 per week in the 2005 tax year. Please check SW 14 for the current amount),
  • employees over 66 years of age,
  • employees who are also full-time civil and public sector employees and paying PRSI Class B, C, D or H in their full-time job.

Contribution Classes B, C and D apply to pensionable employees in the civil and public service, including civil servants, teachers, gardaí, the army and local authority employees who were recruited before 6 April 1995.

Contribution Class H applies to NCOs and enlisted personnel of the defence forces.

Contribution Class K applies to people under 70 years of age who are not insurably employed under the Social Welfare Acts. The following are examples:

  • people getting a pension from a former occupation,
  • people normally paying Class S who have reached 66 years of age,
  • people receiving income from positions of certain office holders, e.g. Judiciary, State Solicitors,
  • prescribed relatives.

However, if the weekly income is below the threshold for Class K (€400 in 2005 tax year) contribution Class M applies. Please see SW 14 booklet for current thresholds.

You should also use contribution Class M for people who:

  • are under 16 years of age;
  • are normally insurable at Class K who:
    - hold a medical card or
    - get a Social Welfare Widow's/Widower's Pension
    - get a One-Parent Family Payment
    - get Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance
    - are aged 70 years or over
    - get a widow's or widower's pension under the social security legislation of another country covered by E.C. Regulations.

Contribution Class S applies to self-employed contributors who pay tax and PRSI under the self-assessment system (Schedule D). For enquiries contact the Self-Employment Section (see address in paragraph 70).

Directors whose income is assessable under Schedule E tax may also be liable to pay Class S.


Depending on the circumstances, Directors can either be employees paying PRSI at Class A insurance or self-employed under a contract for services and therefore paying PRSI at Class S. The Department's website has a comprehensive checklist to determine Employment or Self-employment status of individuals. The links to these booklets are

Hard copies of these booklets are also available from Scope Section. If you are still unsure and require clarification on the Class of PRSI for specific directors you should contact Scope Section (address in paragraph 70).

If you are a company director and you are correctly paying Class S PRSI you should contact Directors Unit, Waterford for queries regarding your PRSI rates and entitlements. See paragraph 70 for contact address and phone numbers.

Agency Workers

Persons employed by Employment Agencies under a contract of service are insurable at PRSI Class A. The person or company who is liable to pay the wages or salary of the individual concerned in respect of work or service is deemed to be the individual's employer.

If a person, recruited by an Employment Agency and acting as a sole-trader, performs any work or service for a third party then that person is insured at PRSI Class S provided the annual income exceeds €3,174 for year 2005 (see SW 14 for current rate).

Excepted Employments

There are employments that are specifically excluded from cover under Social Welfare regulations. These employments are listed in Part II of the first Schedule of the Social Welfare Acts. A common excepted employment would be that of a spouse working for a sole-trading spouse, no PRSI is payable and Class M should be returned where the income is less than the Health Levy threshold and Class K when the Health Levy is payable.

For full information on insurability matters please consult our link on the social welfare website under

If you are not sure what contribution class should apply to any particular employee, consult Information Services (see address in paragraph 70).

Employers may wish to send employees abroad to work temporarily. The following explains what happens when an employer posts employees abroad to work in another country on their behalf for temporary periods of employment.

  • Posted in a Country covered by EC Regulations

If an employer sends an employee employed in Ireland to work temporarily in a country covered by EC Regulations the employee will remain subject to the Irish PRSI system while he/she is employed abroad. The period of posting abroad is normally 12 months but this can be extended to cover a longer period. An E101 certificate (available from PRSI Special Collection) must be available for inspection by the Social Security Authorities in the Member State where the employee is sent to work.

  • Posted in a Country covered by Bilateral Social Security Agreements with other Countries

There are special Social Security Agreements with the following countries:

- Canada (see information leaflet SW 84)
- Australia (see information leaflet SW 87)
- the United States of America (see information leaflet SW 91)
- New Zealand (see information leaflet SW 95)
- Québec (see information leaflet SW 96)

(Agreements with Austria and Switzerland have been superseded by the application of the EC Regulations.)

Ireland also has an agreement with the United Kingdom which covers workers outside the scope of the EU Regulations, eg workers in the Isle of Man.

These agreements include arrangements for posted workers, who are sent by their employer on short work assignments from Ireland to the other country, to remain subject to Irish PRSI instead of transferring to the social security system of the other country. The maximum period allowed varies and the relevant information leaflet should be consulted in any particular case.

  • Posted in a Country NOT covered by EC Regulations NOR by a Bilateral Social Security Agreement

If an employer sends an employee to work temporarily in a country not covered by EC Regulations or to a country with which Ireland does not have a Bilateral Social Security Agreement, the employee remains liable for Irish PRSI contributions for up to 12 months.

If the employment exceeds 12 months, it may be possible to remain liable for Irish PRSI for longer than 12 months.

Employees working abroad who are not subject to the Irish PRSI system may opt to pay Voluntary Contributions - See paragraph 24.

  • Workers from Abroad Posted Temporarily in Ireland

A worker who is ordinarily resident in a country not covered by EC Regulations, or with which Ireland does not have a Bilateral Social Security Agreement and who is sent to work temporarily in Ireland by an employer who is not ordinarily registered in Ireland nor has their principal place of business in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the Isle of Man, may be exempt from paying Irish PRSI contributions for up to 12 months.

Further details and relevant forms on posted workers can be obtained from:

PRSI Special Collection Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Cork Road, Waterford

Telephone: Waterford (051) 356 000
Dublin (01) 704 3000

E-mail: Special Collection Section

Last modified:26/11/2009

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