Part III of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (“OWTA”) deals with annual leave and public holidays.

All employees, including those engaged through an employment agency, are entitled to paid annual leave as follows:

  • Four working weeks where at least 1365 hours have been worked in the leave year (unless the employee changes their job), or;
  • One-third of a working week where the employee works at least 117 hours in a calendar month, or;
  • Eight per cent of the hours worked in a leave year (subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks).

Within the OWTA, there’s no provision to limit leave to this amount, and employees may negotiate additional annual leave in excess of the above. Regarding agency workers, they may also be entitled to additional leave if an employee (otherwise a “direct recruit”) qualifies for additional leave.

Holiday pay must be paid in advance and:

  • If the pay is static, it’s the standard rate for the working hours in the week immediately preceding the holiday.
  • If the pay varies, it’s the average of the working hours in the thirteen weeks before the holiday.

The time of annual leave can be determined by the employer but one month’s notice must be given, and the decision should regard the employee’s family circumstances and available opportunities for rest and recreation.

Annual leave needs to be taken within the leave year or (by agreement) within six months in the following year.

Unless an employee is leaving his job, pay cannot be given in lieu.

If an employee falls ill on annual leave and provides a medical certificate for the period of illness, it shall not be counted as annual leave.

If the employer does not pay sick leave, the employee is not entitled to pay for being ill while on annual leave.

Public Holidays

All employees are entitled to Public Holidays but, at the option of the employer, may be given either:

  • A paid day off on the day, or:
  • A paid day off within a month, or;
  • An extra day’s annual leave, or:
  • An additional day’s pay.

The employer can be requested not more than twenty-one days before the public holiday to nominate the option he proposes to take.

Current Public Holidays:

  • 1 January -New Year’s Day;
  • St Patrick’s Day;
  • Easter Monday;
  • The first Monday in May;
  • The first Monday in June;
  • The first Monday in August;
  • The last Monday in October;
  • Christmas Day;
  • St Stephen’s Day


There’s no entitlement to Public Holidays where employees are absent from work for:

  • Fifty-two weeks due to an occupational illness;
  • Twenty-six weeks in the case of other illness or injury;
  • Thirteen weeks for authorised absence;
  • There is no entitlement to Public Holidays during a strike.

Public Holiday Work

An employee who usually works on a public holiday is entitled to an additional day’s pay. Part-time employees are entitled to 1/5 of a week’s pay but are only eligible for this extra pay if they have worked for at least forty hours during the five weeks prior to the Public Holiday.

The pay calculation for a Public Holiday is set out under the Organisation of Working Time Regulations, 1997 (S.I. No.475 of 1997) and is equal to that of annual leave.

Where an employee leaves his job on the week finishing on the day before a Public Holiday, then they will be entitled to receive the pay of that holiday, as long as they have worked for their employer during the previous four weeks.

Procedures and Enforcement

Within six months of the date of any contravention, a claim may be brought in writing (using a Workplace Relations Claim form) to a Rights Commissioner. This period may be extended to twelve months where “reasonable cause” is shown for the failure to bring a claim within the established time frame.

A decision of a Rights Commissioner shall do one or more of the following:

  • Declare that the complaint was or wasn’t well founded;
  • Require the employer to comply with the relevant provision;
  • Require the employer to pay to the employee compensation of such amount (if any), not exceeding 2 years remuneration in respect of the employee’s employment.

Within six weeks of the date on which the Rights Commissioner’s decision was communicated to them, either one of the concerned parties may appeal this decision by giving notice to the Labour Court.