There are 9 public holidays in Ireland each year. Public holidays may commemorate a special day or other event, for example, St Patrick's Day (17 March) or Christmas Day (25 December). On a public holiday, sometimes called a bank holiday, most businesses and schools close. Other services, for example, public transport still operate but often with restricted schedules. The list of public holidays each year is as follows:
Good Friday is not a public holiday. While some schools and businesses close on that day, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day.
Easter Monday is the only public holiday that can vary significantly from year to year. The date of Easter moves every year within the international calendar for civil use. Broadly speaking, Easter should be the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after 21 March. This means that the earliest possible date for Easter Sunday in any year is 22 March, the latest is 25 April. Easter Monday will fall on the following dates between 2013 and 2015: 1 April 2013, 21 April 2014, 6 April 2015.
Your entitlement to public holidays is set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Most employees are entitled to paid leave on public holidays. One exception is part-time employees who have not worked for their employer at least 40 hours in total in the 5 weeks before the public holiday.
Employees who qualify for public holiday benefit will be entitled to one of the following:
The Organisation of Working Time Act provides that you may ask your employer at least 21 days before a public holiday, which of the alternatives will apply. If your employer fails to respond at least 14 days before the public holiday, you are entitled to take the actual public holiday as a paid day off.
If you have worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday and the public holiday falls on a day you normally work you are entitled to a day's pay for the public holiday. If you are required to work that day you are entitled to an additional day's pay.
If you do not normally work on that particular day you should receive one-fifth of your weekly pay. Even if you may never be rostered to work on a public holiday you are entitled to one-fifth of your weekly pay as compensation for the public holiday.
In all of the above situations your employer may choose to give you paid time off instead of pay for the public holiday.
If you are a full time worker on sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to benefit for the public holiday you missed, as described above. If you are a part-time worker on sick leave during a public holiday, you would be entitled to benefit for the public holiday, provided you had worked for your employer for at least 40 hours in the previous five-week period - see 'Part-time employees' above.
You are not entitled to the public holiday if you are absent from work immediately before the public holiday, and you have been off work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or accident, or for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident.
You are entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur while you are on maternity leave, parental leave or adoptive leave. These rights are set down in law in the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, the Parental Leave Act 1998, and the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 respectively.
You are not entitled to public holiday benefits if you have been absent from work immediately before the public holiday and your absence is:
If your employment finishes during the week ending on the day before a public holiday and you have worked for your employer for the previous 4 weeks, you should receive an additional day's pay for the public holiday. This also applies to part-time employees who have established a right to the public holiday by working at least 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks.
Where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work. This occurs in 2013 when St Patrick's Day (17 March) falls on a Sunday. This means that Monday 18 March 2013 is not a public holiday. When this happens you are entitled to one of the following:
Your employer can require you to attend work on those days.
You can find out more about public holidays 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 public holiday entitlement you may make a complaint under the Organisation of Working Time Act 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
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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.