Case study: Calculating annual leave

Jane began working for her employer 10 months ago. She works a 35-hour week but was off work sick for 3 weeks during this time. When she asked for holidays, her employer told her she could have the odd week off when business was slack. What are her rights?

Provided Jane doesn't have a contract of employment that gives her greater rights, she is relying on the provisions in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. In the 10 months, she worked 1505 hours (43 weeks x 35 hours per week). This gives an entitlement to 4 weeks' leave, including at least 2 weeks' unbroken leave as she has been employed for more than 8 months.

Jane's entitlement might be affected by the actual time of the year she started the employment. Under the legislation, the leave year runs from April to March although some employers use the calendar year. If, for example, Jane started work in January, her annual leave entitlement is as follows:

1st leave year: she worked from January to March. As she worked more than 117 hours in these 3 months she is entitled to one third of a week x 3 which equals one week's annual leave.
2nd leave year: she worked from April to October. She does not yet have the required 1,365 hours to be entitled to 4 weeks' annual leave in the current leave year. She has worked more than 117 hours in 6 of the 7 months. This gives her an entitlement to one-third of a week x 6 which equals 2 weeks' holidays.

Over the 2 leave years involved, she has earned a total of 3 weeks' holidays. This is not affected by the fact that Jane was off work sick for 3 weeks.

Jane's employer, in deciding when the leave may be taken, must take into account any family responsibilities that Jane may have, in addition to the opportunities that may be available to her for rest and recreation.

If Jane has difficulty in getting her annual leave entitlement, she should make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission, using the online complaint form available on

Page edited: 20 August 2019