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. Public holidays are:
- New Year's Day (1 January)
- St. Patrick's Day (17 March)
- Easter Monday
- First Monday in May, June, August
- Last Monday in October
- Christmas Day (25 December)
- St. Stephen's Day (26 December)
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.
How is the date of Easter Monday determined each year?
Easter Monday is the only public holiday that can vary significantly from year to year. The date of Easter moves every year. 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 falls on the following dates in 2019, 2020 and 2021: 22 April 2019, 13 April 2020, 5 April 2021.
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.
If you qualify for public holiday benefit you are entitled to one of the following:
- A paid day off on the public holiday
- An additional day of annual leave
- An additional day's pay
- A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
You may ask your employer at least 21 days before a public holiday, which of the alternatives will apply. If your employer does not respond at least 14 days before the public holiday, you are entitled to take the actual public holiday as a paid day off.
The Organisation of Working Time (Determination of Pay For Holidays) Regulations (SI 475/1997) set out the appropriate rate of daily pay.
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 are never rostered to work on a public holiday you are entitled to one-fifth of your weekly pay as compensation for the public holiday.
If you do not have normal daily or weekly working hours, under SI 475/1997, an average of your day’s pay or the fifth of your weekly pay is calculated over the 13 weeks you worked before the public holiday.
In all of these situations your employer may choose to give you paid time off instead of pay for the public holiday.
Sick leave on a 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. (An employer can also choose to regard you as not on sick leave on the public holiday and pay you as normal for the public holiday. If this is the case, the public holiday is not counted as a sick leave day.)
If you are a part-time worker and you are on sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to benefit for the public holiday, provided you worked for your employer for at least 40 hours in the previous five-week period - see 'Part-time employees' above.
However, if you have been off work for more than 26 consecutive weeks due to illness or accident, or for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident and you are absent from work immediately before the public holiday because of this, you are not entitled to the public holiday.
Absence from work and public holiday entitlement
You are entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur while you are on maternity leave, parental leave, paternity leave or adoptive leave. These rights are set down in the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006, the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 and the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005 respectively.
You are not entitled to public holiday benefits if you were absent from work immediately before the public holiday and your absence is:
- Over 13 weeks, due to lay off or some other reason and authorised by your employer.
- Due to a strike
- After the first 13 weeks of carer's leave
Losing your job
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. You can read more about this in 'Further information' below.
Public holidays falling on a weekend
If the public holiday falls on a day which is not a normal working day for that business (for example, on Saturday or Sunday) you are still entitled to benefit for that public holiday. This applied in 2019 when St Patrick’s Day (17 March) fell on a Sunday. Note that where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work. Read more on workplacerelations.ie.
How to apply
You can find out more about public holidays in this explanatory booklet on holidays and public holidays (pdf) or from the Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service - 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 online complaint form from workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only where there is a reasonable cause which prevented you from bringing the complaint within the normal time limit.
Where to apply
Termination of employment and public holidays
In the case of Gazboro Ltd. -v- BATU (DWT9916) the claimants ceased to be employed on 18 December 1998. They claimed an entitlement to be paid in respect of 25 and 26 December. As the Court interpreted the wording of Section 23(2)(a) of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, the week ending at midnight on 24 December began at midnight on 18 December. Since the claimants worked for the employer during the 4 weeks preceding that week they were entitled to an additional day's pay in respect of 25 December. The week ending on 25 December began at midnight on 19 December. Since the claimants ceased to be employed on 18 December they had no entitlement under the Act in respect of 26 December.