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Leave in Ireland

Holiday Leave in Ireland

There are three different ways of calculating the duration of the annual leave entitlement:

  • For employees who work five days a week and have clocked in at least 1,365 hours, the entitlement is four working weeks' annual leave (20 days). 
  • 1/3 of a working week is given for each month that an employee has worked at least 117 hours 
  • 8% of total hours that an employee has worked, capped at four weeks.

An employee may use whichever of these methods gives the more generous entitlement. When calculating the correct leave, employers should include all hours worked as well as time spent on a leave: annual, maternity, parental, force majeure, adoptive or the first 13 weeks of carer's leave.

Annual leave payment is made in advance at the standard weekly rate. If pay varies, then the amount should be the average employee salary from the 13 weeks preceding the holidays. It's illegal for an employer to pay an allowance instead of the minimum statutory holiday entitlement unless the employment relationship is terminated. In this case, the employee must receive payment for any outstanding annual leave and public holidays, accrued to the date of termination. Any agreement that gives an employee less leave than the statutory minimum is not seen as binding, even if the employee agreed to the terms.

If the employer wants to offer a more generous holiday, they have to indicate that in the employment contract. While the employer can decide when the employee should take the annual leave, they must take into consideration the needs of the employee. An employee who has worked at least eight months is entitled to an unbroken period of 2 weeks' annual leave. 

A common practice in Ireland, carrying annual leave over to the next year is not stipulated in law, and it's up to the employer to decide whether to allow it or not. 

There is a particular 15-month grace period for annual leave carryover for employees who have not been able to take their leave due to an illness.

Need help understanding holiday leave so all your Ireland-based employees get their time off?

Our experts take you through all employment regulations in Ireland, including holiday and other paid leave


Public holidays

In Ireland, there are nine public holidays. Not all bank holidays are public holidays, which is the case with Good Friday. However, many businesses recognise Good Friday with either a paid day off or reduced working hours.

The employer can decide how exactly to handle a public holiday and offer one of the below:

  • A paid day off on the day of the Public Holiday
  • A paid day off, offered within a month of the Public Holiday
  • An additional day of annual leave
  • An extra days' pay
Ireland Public Holiday Calendar 2024

01/01/2024MondayNew Year's DayLá Caille
05/02/2024MondaySaint Brigid's DayLá Fhéile Bríde
17/03/2024SundaySaint Patrick's DayLá Fhéile Pádraig
29/03/2024FridayGood FridayAoine an Chéasta
01/04/2024MondayEaster MondayLuan Cásca
06/05/2024MondayMay DayLá Bealtaine
03/06/2024MondayJune HolidayLá Saoire i mí an Mheithimh
05/08/2024MondayAugust HolidayLá Saoire i mí Lúnasa
28/10/2024MondayOctober HolidayLá Saoire i mí Dheireadh Fómhair
25/12/2024WednesdayChristmas DayLá Nollag
26/12/2024ThursdaySt. Stephen's DayLá Fhéile Stiofáin

If a public holiday falls on a weekend, a substitute weekday becomes a public holiday, usually the following Monday. However, this is not law, and the employer can choose any of the options above. The employee is still entitled to one-fifth of their weekly wage for a public holiday even if it falls on a weekend or not a typical working day for the business. If an employee works on a public holiday, they should be paid for it according to their rates. This means they are also entitled to benefits for that day.

If an employee's employment ends on a week preceding a public holiday and they have worked for the employer for the previous four weeks, they are entitled to pay for the public holiday. This rule also applies to part-time employees who have a right to the public holiday pay and break by working at least 40 hours in the previous five weeks.

Types of Leave in Ireland

Sick leave

From January 1st, the entitlement to sick leave in Ireland commences. This is being brought in on a phased basis starting with up to 5 paid sick days per year in 2024, increasing to 7 days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026. Employees with 13 weeks of continuous service will be eligible and must provide a medical certificate for the days of absence.

The rate of pay for these sick days is 70% of normal wages up to a maximum €110 per day.

Any additional days of sick pay and leave should be outlined in the employment contract. Employers have two months from the start of employment to give employees a written statement with the terms and conditions related to sickness or injury. Most employment contracts have a maximum period of sick pay entitlement in a specific period, and employers may require the employee to provide a medical certificate when on sick leave.

An employee who is on sick leave during a public holiday is entitled to benefits for the public holiday missed, or the employer may choose to regard the employee as not on sick leave on that day and pay them. Employees on long term sick leave accrue annual leave. If an employee is ill during their annual leave, they could request that the days they are sick are taken out of the annual leave as long as they have a medical certificate.

When an employer terminates the employment, payment in lieu of untaken annual leave may also apply to leave that the employee didn't take due to an illness. This applies if the employee leaves the job within the 15 months grace period that is allowed for leave accrued during long-term illness. 

Workers may apply for Illness Benefits if they have enough social insurance contributions for days beyond those covered by employers. If they don't have enough social insurance contributions, they should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's representative at the local health centre to have their situation assessed.

In addition employees are entitled to five days of unpaid leave for medical care purposes.

Maternity leave

All female employees are granted 26 weeks maternity leave no matter how long they have been with the company or how many hours a week they work. On top of that, they can receive an extra 16 weeks of unpaid leave, starting at the end of maternity leave. Mothers must take at least two weeks before the expected birth and at least four weeks after. Entitlement for paid leave depends if the worker has contributed enough to PRSI, as employers are not obligated to pay. Employers can choose to offer paid maternity leave to their employees or to top up the benefit.

Employees who qualify for Maternity Benefit receive €262 weekly and must take at least two weeks and no more than 16 weeks before the baby is due. The remaining weeks can be divided as the employee chooses. Employees are allowed to attend medical visits and appointments during their working hours. A paid extension for the leave is also available in the event of premature birth, corresponding to the period between the baby's actual birth date and the expected start date of the maternity leave.

In the case of stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy, the employee is entitled to full maternity leave. Maternity leave is transferred on to fathers in case the mother dies within 40 weeks of birth. If the mother's death is over 24 weeks after the birth, the father is entitled to leave until 40 weeks after birth.

Employees must state their intention to take maternity leave in writing at least four weeks in advance. They should also provide the employer with a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy. For the additional 16 weeks' maternity leave, the employee must provide the employer with another four weeks' notice. They can submit both of those notices at the same time. Another notice requiring a four-week advance is the intention to return to work.

Transgender men (who have given birth) can now access maternity and pregnancy-related leave and entitlements.

Mothers are entitled to take paid time off for breastfeeding purposes for 104 weeks.

Paternity leave

Additional parents to the newborn/adopted child are entitled to five weeks of paternity leave within the first six months of birth/adoption. Employees may qualify for Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection if they have sufficient PRSI contributions. The paternity allowance is €262 per week. Many employers also provide some level of compensation during that time. Usually, if the employer offers paid leave for maternity leave, they should also offer paternity leave. This ensures they do not discriminate against male employees or adoptive mothers in the case of same-sex families. Employees should notify in written their employees of the intention to take paternity leave at least four weeks in advance. 

Similarly to maternity, paternity too is extended to all employees, regardless of how long they have been with the company or how many hours a week they work. In the case of twins or multiple children adoption, the paternity leave remains two weeks. Time spent on paternity leave is treated as employment and is counted to accumulate annual leave and public holiday entitlement.

If the baby is hospitalised, the employee can ask the employer in writing if they can postpone all or parts of their paternity leave. Fathers are entitled to maternity or adoptive leave if the mother dies. If the father/second mother has not already taken paternity leave, he/she may take it at the end of the maternity or adoptive leave. If the parent entitled to paternity leave dies, their paternity leave may be transferred to the employed surviving parent.

Adoption leave

An adopting parent is entitled to 24 weeks of adoptive leave, which starts on the day the child is placed with them. The parents themselves agree who takes the leave. They also can apply for additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers have no obligation to pay adoptive leave (unless otherwise agreed). Adoptive parents may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit if they have made enough contributions to PRSI. Similar to maternity leave, employees must notify their employers in writing at least four weeks in advance of their intention to take adoptive and additional adoptive leave, as well as to return to work after the leave.

The employee is entitled to paid time off work to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers required during the pre-adoption process. They are also allowed to leave for any public holidays and to accumulate annual leave that occurs during your adoptive leave (including additional adoptive leave).

Parent's leave

Each parent is entitled to seven weeks of paid parent's leave during a child's first two years, which can be taken all at once or split in two, and applies to any child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. They must give at least six weeks' written notice to the employer before taking the leave. Parents cannot transfer the leave between them unless one parent dies. 

If the employee has made enough PRSI contributions, they will get €245 per week, paid by the government. The employer is not obliged to pay the employee while on parent's leave. However, some employers decide to either pay or top up the pay during the leave period. This can be set out in the contract of employment. Employees keep on building up annual leave while on parent's leave, and they are entitled to public holidays. 

The employer is not allowed to refuse the employee's request; they can only postpone the leave for up to 12 weeks. Reasons for delaying include seasonal variations in the volume of work, no replacement to carry out the work, the nature of the duties, the number of other employees also taking parent's leave. Whatever the reason, the employer has to put it in writing for the employee. It's illegal for an employer to penalise, or threaten an employee with penalisation for proposing to take parent's leave or for taking one. Penalisation includes dismissal, a threat of dismissal, unfair treatment including selection for redundancy or unfavourable change to terms and conditions.

Parental leave

Employees can take parental leave to spend time looking after their children. The leave is unpaid and is a maximum of 26 weeks, which both parents can take. Parents are entitled to it before the child turns twelve, or sixteen if the child has a disability. Unlike the other leaves, this one requires a year's continuous service with the employer before it can be taken. However, if the child is near the age threshold, and the parent has more than three months but less than one year's service with the employer, they will be entitled to pro-rata parental leave. 

If the employee adopts a child between the ages of 10 and 12, they can take parental leave up to two years after the child was placed in their adoptive care. This leave is non-transferable between the parents, except when both parents work for the same employer. The employee must give at least six weeks' notice to the employer and, unless the employer agrees, take the leave as either one continuous period or blocks of six weeks or more. A ten-week gap between two parental leaves is required.

An employer can only refuse a request for parental leave if the employee is not entitled to take it. The employer can, however, postpone the parental leave for up to 6 months but they have to do so before an agreement confirming the parental leave has been signed. Beyond this point, they cannot postpone the parental leave without other written agreements. The only valid reasons for delaying a parental leave are either lack of cover or other employees already being on parental leave. The parental leave must be used only for taking care of the child. In case it's used for any other reason, the employer can cancel it.

Parent's leave, paternity leave, maternity leave and parental leave are different family-related leaves. An employee must apply for each separately. Parent's leave cannot start while the female employee is still on maternity leave.

Carer's leave

Employees are allowed to take unpaid leave to provide full-time care and attention for a person in need. The minimum statutory entitlement is 13 weeks, and the maximum is 104 weeks. It can either be taken as one continuous period or be broken down. If the employee does not take it all at once, they must ensure there is a gap of at least six weeks between each block. 

Employees must be with the same employer for at least 12 months to be eligible for it. They also need to have made enough PRSI contributions. If they do not qualify for it, they may be eligible for a means-tested payment called Carer's Allowance.

The employee must provide a written notice at least six months in advance of their intention to take the leave. If the employee requests less than 13 weeks leave, the employer can refuse on reasonable grounds but must explain in writing why they deny the leave. If the employee needs to care for two people in need of full-time care and attention who live together, they are eligible for carer's leave for each person. This extends their total eligibility for carer's leave to 208 weeks.

If the carer's leave for one person has finished, a new one cannot begin for six months. The employee is only entitled to annual leave and public holidays for the first 13 weeks of carer's leave.

The employer and employee must prepare and sign a document confirming this arrangement at least two weeks before the employee begins the carer's leave. The document must include information on the leave's start date, the duration of the leave, and the form in which the leave will be taken. The employer retains this document and must give the employee a copy.

Carer's leave can be terminated if circumstances change and the person no longer needs full-time care or the employee is no longer in a position to provide it full-time. The employee must give the employer a written notice of their intention to return to work at least four weeks in advance.

The employee cannot be penalised, dismissed or mistreated for taking the leave. This includes unfavourable changes to their conditions of employment and redundancy selection.

Force majeure leave

Employees are entitled to a limited paid force majeure leave for family emergencies due to illness or injury. The leave is capped at three days for 12 months / five days for 36 months.

Force majeure leave is not granted in case of the death of a close family member. 

The employer must be notified as soon as practicably possible about the force majeure leave. As soon as the employee returns to work, they must submit a written application to the employer. The written application should include name, PPS number, name and address of the employer, date(s) on which the employee took force majeure leave and reasons why, and their relationship to the person who was injured or ill. The contract of employment may require the employee to provide a medical certificate. The employer must keep records of all force majeure leave taken by employees. 

Domestic violence leave

Domestic violence leave, introduced in the Work-Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, is a new type of leave providing five days of paid leave for an employee who is suffering or has suffered domestic violence in any period of 12 consecutive months at their full rate of pay. There is no minimum service requirement to avail of this leave, and employees will not be obliged to produce evidence in support of their application for leave. It is, however, acceptable for an employer to seek a sufficient explanation from the employee in order to ascertain if an entitlement to domestic violence leave arises.

Work-related injury

An injury benefit applies to workers who are unfit to work at least three days due to an accident at work while travelling to or from work, a business trip, or from an occupational disease. The employer has to report any accident that results in an employee missing three consecutive days of work to the Health and Safety Authority.

Employees have a right to 3 days’ statutory sick pay a year (increasing to 10 days in 2026) at statutory sick pay. For employees who had an accident at work but are not entitled to sick pay, they can apply for Injury Benefit, the weekly payment for which is €220. Injury Benefit is not paid for the first 3 days of your illness or incapacity with a limit up to 26 weeks.

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