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St. Brigid’s Day and Public Holiday Entitlements in Ireland: What Employers Need to Know 2024

Starting in 2023, Ireland introduced a new annual public holiday to celebrate St. Brigid's Day. This holiday is observed on the first Monday of February. However, if the 1st of February falls on a Friday, then that Friday becomes a public holiday instead. The St. Brigid’s Day public holiday falls on Monday, Feb 5th this year.

It may seem quite straightforward but there are actually several considerations for Irish businesses with respect to their Employees’ public holiday entitlements. We consider some tricky scenarios such as:

  • Businesses that require Employees to work on the public holiday

  • How to handle part-time Employees’ entitlements

  • What happens if an Employee is on leave or is on temporary lay-off?


Do you know your Employee Public Holiday Entitlements in 2024?

There are 10 public holidays in Ireland this year. The 10 Irish Public Holidays for 2024 are as follows:

January 1stNew Year’s Day

February 5th: Imbolc/ St. Brigid’s Day (a new public holiday that commenced in 2023 is now celebrated annually on the first Monday in February unless the 1st of February falls on a Friday, in which case Friday, February 1st will be a public holiday)

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day

April 1st, Easter Monday: Occurs on the Monday after Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday changes date each year, usually observed on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 depending on lunar calendars.

May 6th:  First Monday in May

June 3rd: First Monday in June

August 5th: First Monday in August

October 28th: Last Monday in October

December 25th: Christmas Day

December 26th: St. Stephen’s Day

There is often confusion around the status of Good Friday. Although some Organisations offer the day as a Company annual leave day, it is not a public holiday and is therefore treated as a normal working day under Irish employment law. 


Who is entitled to public holidays?

All Employees are entitled to a benefit for public holidays, but certain qualifying criteria must be met when it comes to part-time Employees.


What exactly are the entitlements?

An Employer can offer an Employee the following arrangements: 

  1. a paid day off on the public holiday

  2. a paid day off within a month of that day

  3. an additional day’s pay; or

  4. an additional day of annual leave

 
Full time Employees will automatically be entitled to one of the benefits above for the purposes of public holiday entitlements. Employees can request their Employer to confirm which arrangement applies at least 21 days before the public holiday. The Employer must respond at least 14 days in advance of the public holiday, or if you do not respond, the Employee is entitled to avail of option 1, a paid day off on the public holiday itself.

In order to qualify for a public holiday benefit, part-time Employees will need to have worked at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday.
 
For the purposes of the above, an additional day’s pay is determined as the previous day worked to the public holiday. However, this does not always equate to double time.


What is the entitlement where a part-time Employee is not required to work on the public holiday?

If part-time Employees have worked 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public and are not required to work on the public holiday, they are entitled to receive one-fifth of their average weekly wage. If their average weekly wage varies from week to week, it is recommended that you seek an average from the previous 13 weeks worked.


What if I need my Employee to work on a public holiday?

If an Employee works on a public holiday they must be paid for the day at their agreed rates. They also have an entitlement to receive one of the public holiday benefits outlined above.


What are some other scenarios I should consider with respect to Employee public holiday entitlements?
  • If the business is closed on a public holiday and an Employee would normally be due to work, then they get their agreed rate for a day's pay.

  • If the business is open and an Employee works, they are entitled to either paid time off or an additional day's pay. The additional day's pay is what was paid for the normal daily hours last worked before the public holiday.

  • If an Employee is not usually rostered to work, they are entitled to one-fifth of their normal weekly wage extra.

  • If an Employee ceases to be employed during the week ending on the day before a public holiday, then they are entitled to receive payment for the public holiday provided they have worked for four weeks preceding the public holiday.

  • Where the public holiday falls on a day that is not a normal working day for that business, Employees still have entitlement to benefit (2,3 or 4 above can be given as the benefit options). 

  • If a person is on temporary lay-off, they are entitled toa benefit for public holidays that fall within the first thirteen weeks of a lay-off.


What if the Employee is on Protected Leave?

An Employee has an entitlement to any public holiday that takes place while they are on maternity leave, parental leave, paternity leave, adoptive leave, parent's leave. There are some exceptions to consider.  Employees do not have public holiday entitlements if they were absent from work immediately before the public holiday for the following reasons:

  • Absent for over 13 weeks, due to layoff or some other reason (but not illness or injury) and authorised by the Employer

  • Due to a strike

  • After the first 13 weeks of carer's leave

  • Absent from work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or injury (but is not related to the workplace)

  • Absent from work for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational injury


Record Keeping

It is a legal obligation for Employers to keep records of the public holiday benefits and payments that were given to Employees for a period of up to 3 years. Separate to that, the burden of proof lies with an Employer if a complaint relating to a contravention of the Organisation of Working Time Act is raised at the Workplace Relations Commission. In these circumstances, it is the Employer that must demonstrate their compliance with the provisions of the Act to mitigate any financial liability.
 

Irish employment law has been changing rapidly in recent years and it can be very challenging for businesses to stay on top of their compliance. If you are interested in getting support from our experts at Adare Human Resource Management, please contact us at 01 561 3594 or email info@adarehrm.ie.

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