Public Holiday and Annual Leave Entitlements

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 20 April 2017
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

We are well and truly on the brink of the holiday season with a multiple of public holidays falling closely together in quick succession. Both annual leave and public holiday entitlements are welcomed by all employees of all levels but management should be knowledgeable of legal entitlements, the calculation of holiday entitlements, and have an understanding of how to manage annual leave requests to ensure that a business is not left vulnerable due to a slowdown of productivity caused by annual leave being taken by too many employees at one time.

Public Holidays

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out the nine public holidays in Ireland as:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. St Patrick’s Day
  3. Easter Monday
  4. The first Monday in May
  5. The first Monday in June
  6. The first Monday in August
  7. The last Monday in October
  8. Christmas Day
  9. St Stephen’s Day

Public Holiday Entitlement

Full-Time Employees

The following entitlement applies to all full-time employees in respect of public holidays:

  • If an employee works on the public holiday, they are entitled to be paid for the hours they worked on that day and receive either an additional day’s pay OR an additional day’s paid annual leave
  • If the business is closed on the public holiday, and the employee would normally be rostered to work on that day, they are entitled to receive a day’s pay OR an additional day’s paid annual leave.
  • If an employee is not normally rostered to work on the day of the public holiday, they will be entitled to one fifth of their normal working week in either payment OR time in lieu.

Remember: The manner in which employees receive the public holiday entitlement is at the discretion of the employer.

Part-Time / Casual Employees

Part-time/casual employees who have worked a total of at least 40 hours in the five weeks leading up to the public holiday are entitled to the same public holiday benefits as full-time employees as outlined above. If a part-time/casual employee has NOT worked 40 hours in the five weeks leading up to the public holiday, they do not receive any public holiday entitlement.

Annual Leave

The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 (the “Act”) provides statutory minimum entitlements for all employees to holidays and public holidays (except members of An Garda Síochana and Defence Forces).

Minimum Entitlements:

  • 4 working weeks in a leave year with the same employer in which employee works at least 1,365 hours
  • One-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which employee works at least 117 hours
  • 8% of the hours that the employee works in a leave year (subject to max 4 weeks)
  • If an employee earns is on some kind of commission structure annual leave is paid based on the average weekly pay calculated over the 13 weeks that preceded before the annual leave is taken

If an employee happens to fall ill on a planned annual leave day and provides a medical certificate confirming the same, that day in question is then not deemed as annual leave. If an employee, for some, reason works on a day planned as annual leave, that day cannot be regarded as annual leave. It is not unheard of that employees may ask to take annual leave but also work on that day in the hope of earning extra money. This cannot be permitted as the purpose of annual leave is to ensure sufficient rest for an employee in line with workplace health and safety.

If an employee leaves their employment this is the only time an employer can pay and should pay an employee for accrued but unused holiday entitlements. An employer cannot make an employee use their annual leave as part of their notice period. This will just lengthen the notice period.

Accrual of holiday entitlements:

Holiday entitlements are accrued under the following conditions:

  • Employees’ annual leave accrual commences from the first date of employment.
  • If an employee for some reason has moved from full-time to part-time employment or vice versa, their annual leave entitlements must be recalculated as outlined above.
  • While on a period of suspension with pay to facilitate investigations
  • While on maternity leave, paternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave and ‘force majeure’ leave
  • However, employees do not accrue annual leave while off on uncertified sick leave, career breaks and temporary lay-off.
  • First 13 weeks of carers leave

Please remember also that since 1st of August 2015 employees on long-term sick leave can retain annual leave they could take due to illness for up to 15 months.

Annual Leave policy

In order to manage labour resources and avoid gaps in productivity as much as possible for the business, organisations are advised to have an annual leave policy outlining: 

  • From what dates the annual leave year runs from i.e. 1st of January until 31st of December.
  • That an employee who wishes to take a holiday should complete an Absence Request Form and submit it to his/her Manager for approval.
  • The policy that you will try to accommodate requests for leave.  In exceptional circumstances, where staff cover is inadequate or holiday dates clash, a request may have to be refused with as much as possible notice.
  • A request is not deemed to have been approved until the Absence Request Form has been signed by the Manager.

Note: The employer decides when annual leave can be taken. You should also outline that employees may be required to take compulsory annual leave days such as Good Friday.

  • An annual leave policy will also assist you with tracking annual leave days taken by an employee.
This article is correct at 20/04/2017

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email

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