Ireland at a Glance
Ireland’s Business Culture
Ireland’s Social Security System
So you have overcome the difficulties that await prospective expats in Ireland at the moment? Congratulations! Having gone through the process of finding a job in Ireland does not only reward you with invaluable working experience in a great setting: It will also provide you with a fairly extensive social security system. The services and support measures the system provides are divided into three categories.
- Social insurance payments: These payments vary depending on the time you have been contributing to the Irish Social Insurance Fund and the kind of payment you apply for. Types include Jobseeker’s Benefit, Illness Benefit, Maternity Benefit, Invalidity Pension, and State Pension (retirement).
- Means tested payments: These are primarily designed for people who do not meet the requirements for the abovementioned payments. Generally speaking, they provide a reduced version of the social insurance based payments. As expats in Ireland usually make a decent living in a secure job, means tested payments should not apply to them.
- Universal payments: These are paid to every Irish resident regardless of occupation or income. They include Child Benefit, for example.
Ireland has social security agreements with many expat “sender countries” such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the US. (EU citizens have their social insurance contributions and benefits secured by European law. They need not worry in any case.) The bi-lateral social security agreements with said countries are especially important for securing expats’ access to state pensions, survivors’ pensions, and disability benefits. For more information, please talk to your social security office back home and/or the Irish Department of Social Protection.
How to Avoid Business Faux Pas
Business in Ireland is done in very much the same manner as in other West European and North American societies. The degree of globalization in the country is surely at least partly responsible for this. Due to the scale of the Irish Diaspora, chances are that many of you have had some contact to Irish people before. It is notoriously difficult to break the good spirits of the Irish by mistake: They usually have a great sense of humor, but some general rules should still be adhered to.
Clichés and Manners
First and foremost, the Irish are aware of – and not particularly amused by – the clichés through which they are often portrayed in the media. US American movies in particular often include an Irish person of sunny disposition and with an indestructible liver. Although alcohol is indeed popular in Ireland, thinking of the Irish as a nation of drunkards is not only far from the truth: It could also be quite offensive, even when uttered jokingly.
Bragging is another mannerism that is highly unpopular with the Irish. Arrogance and exaggeration of your own grandeur might not necessarily get you into trouble, but they will probably discredit you to some extent.
In Ireland it is a particularly good idea to keep religion out of small talk and business conversation. Many people in Ireland are religious (often staunchly Catholic) or have socially conservative values, so try to steer clear of potentially controversial topics such as abortion or homosexuality.
Once you get better acquainted or have become close friends with an Irish person, do not be alarmed if you are suddenly made fun of or attacked verbally. This is quite common among the Irish and a signal of a strong bond, strong enough to withstand the cruelest of jokes. You should reciprocate in a cheerful (and equally nonchalant) way. Do not take any of this personally or lose your good spirits.