FAQs for the Christmas break – annual leave and public holidays

Between Christmas day and 2 January 2019, employees are entitled to three public holidays and whilst many businesses close their offices for a week or longer, many operate a 24/7 business where employees will be required to work over the Christmas break. Other businesses have a mixture of full time, part-time or casual employees which can prove tricky when calculating what an employee is entitled to for the three public holidays.


We take you through a series of common and not so common FAQs on annual leave and public holiday entitlements for the Christmas week.


Annual leave FAQs


What is the statutory annual leave entitlement for full-time employees who work at least 1,365 hours in the leave year?


They are entitled to four working weeks or 20 days annual leave unless they joined the business within that leave year. If that is the case the annual leave is calculated on a pro-rata basis.


What is the best method of calculating annual leave on a pro-rata basis for employees who are part time and work less than 1,365 hours in the leave year?


It can be calculated in two ways:

  1. If the employee works at least 117 hours in the calendar month, they are entitled to one third of a working week that month
  2. Calculate 8% of the actual hours they have worked in the leave year. This is subject to a maximum of four working weeks per annum

We do not pay sick pay and an employee has requested to use their annual leave. Can they do this?


No. An employee must be fit to take their annual leave. If they go on annual leave and become ill during it and they produce a medical cert to verify they were ill, they are entitled to take those annual leave days at another time.


Is an employee entitled to accrue annual leave whilst on sick leave?


Yes, employees continue to accrue annual leave whilst on certified sick leave. It is capped at a maximum carry over period of up to 15 months from the end of any given leave year in which it was accrued. It is worth noting that the statutory leave year runs from 1 April to 31 March each year which may differ from your own company leave year.


Can I pay my employee in lieu of annual leave?


No, unless the employment relationship is terminated by either party. The employer has a legal obligation to ensure the employee takes their statutory annual leave entitlement within the leave year or if necessary within six months of the following year.


Are employees on maternity leave entitled to annual leave or public holidays?


Yes, employees on maternity, additional maternity, adoptive, paternity and parental leave continue to accrue their annual leave and public holiday entitlements.  Employee’s on carer’s leave continue to accrue annual leave and public holiday entitlements for the first 13 weeks only.


Public holiday FAQs


We are open on Christmas day and St. Stephen’s Day. Some staff are rostered to work one or both days. What is their entitlement for working on the public holidays?


Depending if they worked one or both public holidays, they are entitled to one of the following:

            - one or two paid days off within a month

            - one or two extra day’s annual leave

            - one or two day’s extra pay


We have a casual employee who works variable hours. They are not rostered to work on the public holidays, are they entitled to the public holiday entitlement?


Yes, but only if they have worked 40 hours or more in the five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday. If this is the case, they are entitled to one fifth of their normal weekly rate of renumeration.


The casual employee’s hours vary from week to week, how do I calculate their normal weekly rate of renumeration?


You can calculate the average working week based on the previous 13-week period ending on the day before the public holiday.


We have an employee who is taking unpaid leave for the month of December and January. Are they entitled to the public holidays during this period?


Yes, but only if the unpaid leave was authorised by the company and the bank holiday falls within the first 13 weeks of the unpaid leave. They can either receive the bank holiday payment or a day/s in lieu of it.


An employee is currently on certified sick leave for ten months due to an illness, do they still receive the public holiday entitlement?


No. An employee on certified sick leave is entitled to the public holiday up to and including 26 weeks. However, an employee who is out due to an occupational injury is entitled to public holidays up to and including 52 weeks.


If you would like more information on public holidays and annual leave you can download our guideline here or contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our HR and Employment Law advice section on www.sfa.ie

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