Christmas Annual Leave & Public Holiday Entitlement

The RBK HR Solutions Team have received a number of queries in relation to annual leave and public holiday entitlements leading up to Christmas and the New Year.

Upcoming Public Holidays - Christmas 2021

One of the main queries for both employers and employees, at the moment, is in relation to public holiday entitlements as Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day fall on a weekend as follows:

  • Saturday, 25th December 2021 
  • Sunday, 26th December 2021 
  • Saturday, 1st January 2022

For employees who do not normally work on these days, when a public holiday falls, they are still entitled to benefit for the public holidays.

Where the public holiday falls on a day which is not a normal working day for the business (e.g. a Saturday or Sunday), employees still have an entitlement to one of the following benefits:

  • An additional day of annual leave 
  • An additional day’s pay 
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

In relation to employees who work part time/ad-hoc hours, they must have worked at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks ending on the day before the public holiday to be entitled to the benefit in relation to a public holiday.

In this scenario, an average of the employee(s) day’s pay or one fifth of their weekly pay is calculated over the 13 weeks they worked prior to the public holiday.

Annual Leave Entitlements

Annual leave and public holidays are governed by the provisions of Part III of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which provides an entitlement to paid annual leave as follows:

  • 4 working weeks in a leave year in which he or she works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which the employee changes employment), 
  • one-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which the employee works at least 117 hours, or 
  • 8% of hours of hours worked in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks).

Qualifying Conditions for the Accrual of Annual Leave

There is no qualifying period or hourly threshold for employees to start to accrue annual leave. This means that all employees, regardless of contract type or the number of hours they work, start to accrue an entitlement to annual leave from the commencement date of their employment.

Entitlement to annual leave is based on the number of hours worked in the leave year. When calculating an employee’s annual leave entitlement, it should include time spent on maternity / adoptive leave, additional maternity / adoptive leave, health and safety leave, parental leave, the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave, force majeure leave, sick leave and annual leave (calculated on the basis of hours that would have been worked had the employee been at work on the days concerned) and public holidays taken during the calculation period.

Contract of Employment

Whilst the Act deals with the statutory provision concerning annual leave, it will also be necessary to consider the contracts of employment in place. Some contracts of employment provide for additional days in excess of statutory requirements.

Accrual of Annual Leave whilst on Temporary Lay-off or Short-time/Reduced Hours 

Employees do not accrue annual leave whilst placed on a period of temporary lay-off. Employees working reduced hours while on short-time working, continue to accrue annual leave based on hours actually worked, not normal contracted hours.

Entitlement to Public Holidays whilst on Temporary Lay-off

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, an employee accrues public holiday(s) for the first 13 weeks of lay-off.

Under the legislation, employees who are on lay-off for more than 13 weeks lose their entitlement to any subsequent public holidays.

Payment in Lieu of Annual Leave

Where an employee commences employment or terminates his/her employment during the leave year, annual leave entitlement is calculated on a pro rata basis. Where an employee terminates their employment, if they have taken annual leave in excess of their entitlement, it will be automatically deducted from their final salary payment.

Payment cannot be made in lieu of annual leave. Annual leave must be taken as per the Organisation of Working Time Act. Payment in lieu of annual leave can only be made when an employee resigns as part of their final salary payment.

For more advice and support please contact a member of the RBK HR Solutions Team:

  • Yvonne Clarke – HR Solutions Manager – (090) 6480600 
  • Áine Dunne - HR Business Partner - (090) 6480600

Yvonne Clarke

HR Solutions Manager

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