Your entitlement to annual leave or holidays from work is set out in legislation and in your contract of employment. While you are required to attend work as provided for in your contract of employment, legislation gives various entitlements to leave from work. These include annual leave, public holidays, maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer's leave, parental leave and other types of leave from work.
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides for a basic annual paid leave entitlement of 4 weeks, although an employee's contract could give greater rights. It is also important to note that the periods of leave provided for by legislation are the minimum entitlements only, you and your employer may agree to additional entitlements.
In the case of agency employees, the party who pays the wages (employment agency or client company) is the employer for the purposes of the Act and is responsible for providing the entitlement.
Holiday pay: Pay in respect of annual leave is paid in advance at the normal weekly rate. If your pay varies because, for example, of commission or bonus payments, your pay for your holidays is the average of your pay over the 13 weeks before you take holidays.
It is for your employer to decide when annual leave may be taken, but this is subject to a number of conditions. Your employer must take into account your family responsibilities, opportunities for rest and recreation that are available to you and to consult with you (or your union) at least one month before the leave is to be taken. In addition, annual leave should be taken within the appropriate leave year or with your consent, within 6 months of the relevant leave year. Further holding over (also known as carrying-over) of annual leave at your wish is a matter for agreement between you and your employer.
There are 3 different ways of calculating your annual leave entitlement:
An employee may use whichever of these methods gives the greater entitlement.
An employee who has worked for at least 8 months is entitled to an unbroken period of 2 weeks' annual leave.
Part-time work: Generally, the annual leave for part-time workers is calculated using the 3rd method, that is, 8% of hours worked. If you work full time for some months and the rest of the year you work part time, you should calculate the leave for the full-time and the part-time periods of work separately.
If you are ill while you are on annual leave, you should get a medical certificate from your family doctor (GP) as soon as possible to cover the days that you were sick and give this to your employer as soon as you return to work. In this way, the sick days will not count as annual leave and will be available to you at a later date.
An employer cannot require you to take annual leave for a certified period of illness. However, illness during the leave year will reduce the total number of hours you work and can therefore affect your entitlement to annual leave. While you are on sick leave from work you do not accumulate annual leave entitlement
Annual leave is not affected by other leave provided for by law. Time spent on maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, force majeure leave and the first 13 weeks of carer's leave is treated as though you have been in employment and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave entitlement.
It is illegal under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 for an employer to pay an allowance in lieu of the minimum statutory holiday entitlement of an employee unless the employment relationship is terminated. In general, your annual leave is calculated on the basis of hours worked.
If you are leaving a job you are entitled to receive payment for any outstanding annual leave and public holidays due to you.
You can find out more about annual leave in this explanatory booklet on holidays and public holidays (pdf) or from Workplace Relations Customer Services - see 'Where to apply' below.
If you are not getting your holiday entitlement you may make a complaint
under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 within 6 months of the dispute
or complaint occurring. You must use the new online complaint form (available
by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on workplacerelations.ie).
The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only where
there are exceptional circumstances which prevented the complaint being brought
within the normal time limit.
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.