The ISSA (Established in 1999) aims to protect, advise, educate and promote the basic rights of all staff that work within the racing sector of the Irish Equine Industry, through negotiation and open dialogue with the IRTA (the responsible body of the Irish Racehorse Trainers) since 1972. The basic rights of the worker under the Agricultural Agreement and the National Minimum Wage Act are protected by Irish Employment Law. In August 2004, a landmark agreement (the first of it's kind in the world) was reached between the ISSA and the IRTA, with input from H.R.I. (the controlling semi-state body). It recognises the unique talents of staff that work with and ride Thoroughbred racehorses in this country.

Importantly it is reviewed and updated yearly and we hope that it will lay the foundations for the future protection and prosperity of Stablestaff in Ireland.

If you have any questions on this "agreement", or would simply like to receive a printed copy,please call us on 045 531 911 ... or just drop into our office

Even though minimum terms and conditions of employment have been established under the existing agreement, it was the view of both parties that this agreement clearly recognises the uniqueness of employment in the horse racing industry.

Agreement on Minimum Terms & Conditions of 
Employment For Irish Stablestaff

Arising from extensive negotiations between the Irish Stablestaff Association and the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, the following agreement has been reached setting out minimum terms and conditions of employment for Stablestaff.

In establishing these terms and conditions it is recognised that these are minimum levels. This agreement does not prohibit an employer from paying more favourable terms. It does, however, prohibit the employer from paying less favourable terms.

By Mike Smith

Section 1 – Minimum Rates of Pay

Rates of Pay for stablestaff effective from the 1st February 2017 agreed by the ISSA (Irish Stable Staff Association) plus the IRTA (Irish Racehorse Trainers Association) and overseen by HRI(Horse Racing Ireland). Therefore recognizing the uniqueness of the work carried out.

Adult Worker
€ 10.75
Under age 18
€ 7.53
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Section 2 – Career Structures / Training & Development

The parties to this agreement acknowledge the need to improve training and career development opportunities within racing as a means of aiding recruitment and retention in the industry and ensuring the continued availability of a highly skilled, flexible and well motivated workforce.

Following consultations with the various stakeholders, the parties are committed to the introduction and promotion of relevant training courses to meet the identified needs of the Irish horseracing industry, with an emphasis on flexible, cost-effective delivery and accessibility for people throughout the country.

It is envisaged that the Racing Academy & Centre of Education (RACE) will play a major role in the provision of a broader range of training services to the industry in the future, to include industry-certified training for racing grooms, skills development for existing stable staff. We also welcome the support of our new industry assistance program through HRI.

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Section 3 – Attendance at Race Meetings

Subsistance rates to be paid to all employees in advance of travelling to race meetings in accordance with revenue permitted tax free allowances.

If attending a Saturday evening race meeting, working the next day is voluntary.

Attendance at a Saturday evening race meeting is voluntary. In the event that an employee opts not to work at the Saturday evening race meeting then he/she accepts the right of the employer to make alternative arrangements.

In the event of not returning to the yard until after midnight, all employees must comply with the working time act.

Travelling Abroad Subsistence Rates:

Day Allowances
From 1 July 2015
From 5 March 2009 -30 June 2015
5-10 hours
10 hours+

Overnight Allowances
From 1 July 2015
From 5 March 2009 -30 June 2015
Normal Rate
Reduced Rate
Detention Rate

Overnight Allowance (over 24 hour’s absence)

An overnight allowance covers a period of 24 hours from the time of departure, as well as ay further period not exceeding 5 hours, which is necessarily spent away from the normal place of work.

Where an absence exceeds 24 hours, a day allowance at the appropriate rate may be paid only if the last period of 24 hours is exceeded by 5 or more hours.

Normal Rate
This is payable for absences up to 14 nights.

Reduced Rate
This is payable for each of the next 14 nights

Detention Rate
This is payable for each of the next 28 nights.

Absences Over 56 Nights
Special rules apply, details of which are available from local tax offices. The period of subsistence at any one location is limited to six months. Any departure from this position e.g. for continuation of the subsistence period for a short duration, is considered on the circumstances of the individual case.

Continuous Absence
Certain Absences form a particular temporary location would not be regarded as breaking the continuity of stay for the purpose of reducing the subsistence allowance. These absences would include absences of not more than two nights due to a return on official business to the employee’s normal place of work, plus any nights of a weekend or public holidays or return visits home or annual leave. These absences would not of course, qualify for subsistence allowance.

Where employees are working as team members and it is necessary for junior team members to stay in the same accommodation as senior team members who qualify for a higher rate of subsistence, such higher rate may also apply to the junior team members.

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Section 4 – Working Hours

Normal Working Week

In relation to workers under the age of 18, the provisions of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 shall apply. Trainers are expected to fully familiarise themselves with this legislation and to comply with its provision.

A 39 hour week may be implemented in any one of the following ways, depending on the needs of the individual yard:

A 39 hour week year round.

38 hours for 6 consecutive months.
40 hours for 6 consecutive months.
(the months to be agreed at local level).
36 hours for 3 consecutive months.
40 hours for 9 consecutive months.
(the months to be agreed at local level).

Overtime rates shall be payable in respect of all time worked in any week in excess of the declared normal hours of work for that week.

Where hours of work (including overtime) exceed 48 hours per week, the total number of hours in any 7 day period must not exceed 48, averaged over a period of six months.

The months of the averaging period must be consecutive, but the employer may choose which six months they will be.

Rest Periods

The rest periods specified for workers in Sections 11, 12, and 13 of the Organisation of Working Time Act shall not apply. Employers shall ensure that their employees have equivalent compensatory rest periods and breaks available to them in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Code of Practice on Compensatory Rest Periods (S.I. 44 of 1998).

Overtime Rates

Overtime will apply after normal hours have been worked:

For all time worked in excess of normal hours of work on any day other than Sunday, and including after 1.00pm on the short day, the minimum time rate is time and one-third ( 1.33).

For all time worked on Sundays, the minimum time-rate is time and two-thirds (1.66).

In accordance with the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, for normal hours worked on Public Holidays, time by two applies (2). For hours over normal hours, the rate shall be time and one third by two (1.33 x 2).

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Section 5 – Contract of Employment

In accordance with the provisions Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 – 2001, all employees should be provided with certain core terms of employment within the first 5 days of starting employment, with a complete contract of employment issued to them within two months of their starting date.

The contract will include details of the terms and conditions applicable to that employees employment.

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Section 6 – Holidays


"Leave year" means a year beginning on 1st April in any year.

Annual Leave

The leave year is 1st April, to 31st March. Depending on time worked, employees in relation to whom this agreement applies shall be entitled to holidays calculated by one of the following methods:

  1. 4 working weeks in the leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which the worker changed employment);
  2. 1/3 of a working week per calendar month that the employee works at least 117 hours;
  3. 8% of the hours worked in a leave year, but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks.

In order that no difficulty arises when planning holidays, holiday requests must be submitted to the employer for approval in advance.

Public Holidays

Employees in relation to whom this agreement applies are entitled (in accordance with the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997) to whichever of the following their employer determines, in respect of public holidays:

  1. A paid day off on that day
  2. A paid day off within a month of that day
  3. An additional day of annual leave
  4. An additional day's pay

Part-time and short-time employees must have worked for at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday to qualify for public holiday benefit.


  1. For the purposes of computing holiday remuneration, no deductions shall be made for benefits provided by the employer but not enjoyed by the employee whilst on annual leave.
  2. A day which would be regarded as a day of annual leave shall, if the employee concerned is ill on that day and furnishes to the employer a medical certificate in respect of the illness, not be regarded as a day of annual leave.
  3. The annual leave of an employee who has 8 or more months of service shall include an unbroken period of 2 weeks.
  4. An employee shall be regarded as having worked on a day of annual leave the hours he/she would have worked on that day had it not been a day of annual leave.

Leave and Holiday Entitlements of Short-term and Part-time Workers

Entitlement to leave and public holidays for short-term and part-time employees shall be calculated in the same manner as in paragraphs 2 and 3 herein above.

Cesser Pay

Where an employee ceases to be employed and the whole or any portion of annual leave remains to be granted to him, the worker shall be paid an amount equal to the pay that he/she would have received if he/she had been granted that leave.

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Section 7 – Stable Employee Bonus Scheme

In accordance with Rule 298, of the Rules of Racing and INHS Committee Rules, monies are paid to the Employers for distribution to registered employees on four occasions each year. Payments will be made in the months of April, July, October and January covering the quarters ending in the preceding months.

The amount of the payment to be made to each employee should be based on rules and guidelines to be agreed at a local level by employees only. A signed copy of the agreement (by two or more employees) must be lodged with the Turf Club & INHS Committee, and displayed in the tack room.

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Section 8 – Additional Benefits

Sick Pay Scheme

  1. All employees to whom this agreement applies, having a minimum of one year’s service with their current employer shall be covered by a Sick Pay Scheme which entitles them to payment during absences due to illness. Such a scheme shall be provided by the employer, and shall be non-contributory.
  2. No payment shall be made in respect of the first 3 days of any absence on sick leave. For entitlement to payment, a certificate signed by a medical practitioner must be produced by the third day of any absence on sick leave, specifying the nature of the illness. Certificates must be produced weekly thereafter for continuance of entitlement to sick pay.
  3. It will be the employee’s duty to ensure that the employer is informed of his/her absence from work due to illness before normal starting time on the first day of absence.
  4. Entitlement to benefit under the Scheme will apply only during a 12 month period in any Scheme year, and will not carry over from one year to another.
  5. Entitlement to benefit under the Scheme will apply to full-time staff, and pro-rata to part-time staff, as follows:

    All Staff

    • After one year’s service: 3 weeks’ pay at appropriate minimum pay rates as set out in this agreement and as amended thereafter, less Social Welfare entitlement.
  6. Disciplinary procedures may be applied to any worker found to have abused the Scheme.
  7. The employer will be entitled to refer an employee for assessment by a doctor nominated by the employer.The cost of any such referral will be paid by the employer.
  8. The employee will be responsible for claiming his/her Social Welfare entitlements while on sick leave, and for paying over such payments to the employer. Monies not paid over within 6 weeks of receipt by the employee may be treated by the employer as payment of wages in advance.

Bereavement Leave

In the event of absences arising from the death of a spouse, son, daughter, brother, sister or parent, up to three workings days will be paid.

Health & Safety

In accordance with Health and Safety legislation, helmets, back protectors, boots and gloves will be provided by the employer. Employees, in turn, have a responsibility to properly use equipment provided and to take adequate care of this equipment at all times.

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Section 9 – Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures

A “Code of Practice” on dispute resolution tailored for this industry has been drawn up. The purpose of this “Code of Practice” is to provide a fair approach to issues that might arise in individual yards.

Disciplinary Procedure

Where an employee’s conduct, attendance or performance warrants disciplinary action, the following procedure will apply except in cases of gross misconduct.

  1. Counselling

    The employee will initially be given a counselling by his/her employer, which will be recorded on the employee’s file.
  2. Formal Verbal Warning

    In the event of a further breach of conduct, poor attendance or lapse of performance, the employee will be given a formal verbal warning by his/her employer. This warning will be recorded on the employee’s file
  3. First Written Warning

    In the event of a further breach, the employee will be issued with a formal written warning, a copy of which will be retained on the employee’s file.
  4. Final Written Warning & Suspension

    In the event of yet a further breach, the employee will be given a final formal written warning, and may be given a period of unpaid suspension. The letter will clearly state that a further breach will lead to dismissal.
  5. Dismissal

    If, following stage 4, there are further breaches, the employee will be dismissed.

    Note: With the exception of counselling, an employee is entitled to have a witness present at any meeting with the employer in the form of a colleague or a representative of the Irish Stablestaff Association.

    Having received a warning at any stage up to stage three of the procedure, where an employee’s record subsequently remains clear for at least six months, that employee will revert to the previous stage of the procedure. In the event of having reached stage four, an employee’s record will revert to a previous stage after maintaining a clear record for at least one year.

    Before any decision is taken to impose disciplinary action, an employer must investigate the matter first and consider any responses given by the employee.

Gross Misconduct

In cases of Gross Misconduct such as fighting, theft, wilful damage to property, reporting for work under the influence of alcohol/unprescribed drugs, breaches of trust, abuse and neglect of horses, etc., an employee may be summarily dismissed without recourse to the normal disciplinary procedures. Where an incident constituting gross misconduct arises, an employee may be suspended with pay in order to facilitate an investigation.

Following investigation, and having established that misconduct has occurred, the employer may decide to impose an alternative form of discipline such as unpaid suspension.

Grievance Procedure

It is in everyone’s interest to establish a clear procedure for the resolution of all issues arising between them. Grievances will occur in the normal course of interaction in the workplace. A failure to follow a procedure to deal adequately with grievances as they arise will inevitably lead to disputes affecting the workplace. It is vital that all grievances are dealt with, without undue delay.

Stage 1

The grievance will be discussed between the employee and his/her employer.

Stage 2

Failing a resolution of the issue, the matter will be referred by the employee to a representative of the Irish Stablestaff Association. The representative will contact the employer with a view to endeavouring to achieve a resolution.

Stage 3

The matter will be referred to the “Internal Referral Committee” established under this agreement, which will investigate the issue and issue a decision within seven working days.

Stage 4

Should the matter remain unresolved, it will be referred to the Labour Relations Commission for conciliation or for a hearing by a Rights Commissioner, whichever is appropriate. If still unresolved, it will be referred to the Labour Court for a formal investigation.

During the period in which the above procedure is being followed no form of action will be taken by either party in the form of strike, lockout, walkout, sit-in, go-slow, or any form of industrial action designed to bring pressure to bear on either the employee or the employer.

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Every employee has the right to carry out his/her wo

Section 10 - Bullying & Harassment

rk free from any form of bullying/harassment.

What is Bullying / Harassment

Bullying and harassment is defined as:

“Unwanted or repeated aggression or behaviour/actions of a physical, psychological or verbal nature which unfairly discriminates, humiliates, embarrasses or intimidates an employee or results in an employee feeling threatened, offended or compromised in anyway.”

Sexual Harassment is defined as:

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, which results in the individual feeling threatened or compromised in any way.”

Sexual harassment should not be confused with simple friendly behaviour or with more intimate exchanges, if these are mutually desired and accepted. The difference between friendly behaviour and sexual harassment is that sexual harassment is neither solicited nor accepted by the recipient. It is simply unwelcome and/or imposed.

The reporting procedures, investigation and disciplinary measures are treated in the same fashion for both scenarios.

Be aware that bullying / harassment can take many forms and is not always obvious, but can be subtle or insidious in nature which is no less upsetting to the victim. It is also important to note that bullying / harassment is generally defined not necessarily by its intention but by the impact of the behaviour on the recipient. So be aware that what you consider inoffensive may be unacceptable to another individual.

Informal Procedure

Many incidents of bullying / harassment can be dealt with effectively in an informal way. Often the harasser may be unaware of the effect their behaviour is having on others. Therefore speaking with the person in question, making it clear that their behaviour is unwelcome, may be enough to rectify the matter. If this action does not result in the bullying or harassment stopping or a more serious incident arises, then you should use the Formal Procedure.

Formal Procedure

In the first instance, you should contact your employer at the earliest opportunity and outline, in writing, the nature of your complaint advising that you wish to make a formal complaint.

If your complaint relates to your employer, you may approach the “Internal Referral Committee” established under this agreement.

No action will be taken without prior consultation or discussion. Any complaint of bullying / harassment will be treated with sensitivity. During investigation discretion will be a priority, but confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

In the interests of natural justice, the alleged perpetrator also has rights and will be given every opportunity to a fair and impartial hearing and a right to challenge any allegation.Witnesses, where appropriate may also have to be interviewed.

All allegations / complaints received will be thoroughly examined and where a complaint is upheld, the matter will be dealt with in a manner so as to ensure no further difficulties arise.

Where appropriate, external assistance will be provided to both the accused and the victim.

It is important to note that malicious/false allegations will be treated as a disciplinary offence.

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Section 11 - Referral of Disputes

A Referral Committee has been established to examine any complaints referred on breaches of this agreement. The Referral Committee will also meet on at least an annual basis to review the working of this agreement in its entirety and issue a short written report to the Board of Horse Racing Ireland.

The Referral Committee will comprise of one representative from each of the following groups under the Chair of Horse Racing Ireland:

Irish Stablestaff Association
Irish Racehorse Trainers Association
Turf Club
Horse Racing Ireland

Additional representatives from other bodies, if deemed appropriate, may also be included in the committee.

Working under standing orders, the Referral Committee will examine any written complaint referred on breaches of the Agreement on Minimum Terms & Conditions of Employment for Stablestaff. The Referral Committees findings will be published and considered binding.

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Section 12 – Irish Stablestaff Association

Recognition is given to the role played by the Irish Stablestaff Association in providing appropriate representation on behalf of employees covered by this agreement. From time to time information will be issued to yards for the benefit of employees. Trainers undertake to nominate a person working in the yard who will be the recipient of such information

Agreement on Minimum Terms & Conditions
of Employment For Irish Stablestaff

Signed on behalf of the
Irish Racehorse Trainers Association :
Signed on behalf of the
Irish Stablestaff Association:
Micheal Grassick
Bernard Caldwell
Patrick Prendergast
Pat Curran
Dated this ______ day of______ 2016
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