Entitlement to annual leave or holidays from work is set out in legislation and in your contract of employment. In the case of agency employees, the party paying the wages (employment agency or client company) is the employer for the purposes of the Act and is responsible for providing the entitlement.

Taking annual leave The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides for a basic annual paid leave entitlement of 4 weeks, although an employee’s contract could give greater rights. It is for your employer to decide when annual leave may be taken, but this is subject to a number of conditions. Your employer must take into account your family responsibilities, opportunities for rest and recreation that are available to you and to consult with you (or your union) at least one month before the leave is to be taken. In addition, annual leave should be taken within the appropriate leave year or with your consent, within 6 months of the relevant leave year. Further holding over (also known as carrying-over) of annual leave at your wish is a matter for agreement between you and your employer.

Holiday pay in respect of annual leave is paid in advance at the normal weekly rate. If your pay varies because, for example, of commission or bonus payments, pay for your holidays is the average of your pay over the 13 weeks before you take holidays.

Annual leave & sick leave If you are ill while you are on annual leave, you should get a medical certificate from your family doctor (GP) as soon as possible to cover the days that you were sick and give this to your employer as soon as you return to work. In this way, the sick days will not count as annual leave and will be available to you at a later date. An employer cannot require you to take annual leave for a certified period of illness. You accumulate statutory annual leave entitlement during a period of certified sick leave. Employees on long-term sick leave can retain annual leave they could not take due to illness for up to 15 months after the end of the year in which it is accrued

Annual leave & other leave Annual leave is not affected by other leave provided for by law. Time spent on maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, force majeure leave and the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave is treated as though you have been in employment and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave entitlement.

Annual leave & leaving employment It is illegal under the Act for an employer to pay an allowance in lieu of the minimum statutory holiday entitlement of an employee unless the employment relationship is terminated. In general, your annual leave is calculated on the basis of hours worked. If you are leaving a job you are entitled to receive payment for any outstanding annual leave and public holidays due to you.

Calculating annual leave There are 3 different ways of calculating your annual leave entitlement: Based on the employee’s working hours during what is called the leave year, which runs from April to March.
(a) An employee who has worked at least 1,365 hours in the leave year is entitled to the maximum of 4 working weeks’ annual leave unless is a leave year in which they change employment. Many employers use the calendar year (January-December) instead of the official leave year to calculate entitlement.
(b) By allowing 1⁄3 of a working week for each calendar month in which the employee has worked at least 117 hours.
(c) 8% of the hours worked in the leave year, subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks. Employers should include all hours worked including time spent on annual leave, maternity leave, parental leave, force majeure leave, adoptive leave or the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave. An employee who has worked for at least 8 months is entitled to an unbroken period of 2 weeks annual leave.

Part-time work: Generally, the annual leave for part-time workers is calculated using the 3rd method, that is, 8% of hours worked. If you work full time for some months and the rest of the year you work part-time, you should calculate the leave for the full-time and the part-time periods of work separately.

Public holidays There are 9 public/bank holidays in Ireland each year. Public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work. While some schools/ businesses close on that day, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day. Most employees are entitled to paid leave on public holidays. One exception is part-time employees who have not worked for their employer at least 40 hours in total in the 5 weeks before the public holiday. Employees who qualify for public holiday benefit will be entitled to one of the following: A paid day off on the public holiday. An additional day of annual leave. An additional day’s pay. A paid day off within a month of the public holiday.

Public holidays-Part-time employees If you have worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday and the public holiday falls on a day you normally work you are entitled to a day’s pay for the public holiday. If you are required to work that day you are entitled to an additional day’s pay. If you do not normally work on that particular day you should receive 1⁄5 of your weekly pay. Even if you may never be rostered to work on a public holiday you are entitled to 1⁄5 of your weekly pay as compensation for the public holiday. If you do not have normal daily or weekly working hours, an average of your day’s pay or the fifth of your weekly pay is calculated over the 13 weeks you worked before the public holiday. In all of the above situations, your employer may choose to give you paid time off instead of pay for the public holiday.

The Organisation of Working Time Act provides that you may ask your employer at least 21 days before a public holiday, which of the alternatives will apply. If your employer fails to respond at least 14 days before the public holiday, you are entitled to take the actual public holiday as a paid day off.

Further information on Public holidays is available from the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information & Customer Service, O’Brien Road Carlow, R93 W7W2. Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm Tel: (059) 917 8990 Locall: 1890 80 80 90 Fax:(059) 917 8909 Homepage: www.workplacerelations.ie

Free Legal Advice Clinic will be held at Shannon Citizens Information Centre on Monday afternoon July 30th by appointment only. Please call 0761 07 5370