Between Christmas day and 1 January 2023, 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.
A public holiday is a statutory entitlement, as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.
Employees on maternity leave, paternity leave, adoptive leave and parental leave maintain their public holiday benefit for the duration of their absence. Employees on carer’s leave accrue the benefit for the first 13 weeks of their absence. If an employee is on temporary lay-off, they are entitled to benefit for the public holidays that fall within the first 13 weeks of the lay-off period.
Christmas and New Year public holidays 2022/2023
1. What public holidays fall over Christmas and New Year? There are three public holidays that fall over the Christmas and New Year period:
• Sunday 25 December 2022 (Christmas Day)
• Monday 26 December 2022 (St Stephen’s Day)
• Sunday 1 January 2023 (New Year’s Day)
2. What days will be classified as the public holidays given Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall over the weekend?
It is a common misconception that public holidays that fall on a weekend ‘move’ to the following Monday or Tuesday. While an employer may choose to assign the benefit of a public holiday that falls, for example, on a Saturday to the following Monday in the form of a paid day off, this is not legally required. The weekend day will still be classified as the public holiday.
3. If an employee works Monday to Friday only what is their public holiday entitlement for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day?
As this employee does not normally work on a weekend their public holiday entitlement under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 is a sum of money equivalent to one fifth of their normal weekly pay with respect to each public holiday. For this employee, this is the equivalent to a days’ pay for each public holiday and the employer can assign one of the following:
An additional one fifth of weekly pay on the week in which the public holiday falls for each public holiday. This will mean the employee will receive no time off in respect of the public holidays
A paid day off within one month for each public holiday (many employers will assign Tuesday the 27th December as the benefit for the Christmas Day public holiday)
An additional day of annual leave for each public holiday
4. If a part time employee only works on the weekend and is required to work on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day what is his/her public holiday entitlement?
As this is a part time employee, the employer must first establish whether the employee qualifies for the public holiday benefit. A part time employee will qualify for the benefit if they have worked 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday.
As this employee always works on a Saturday and Sunday and is required to work on the public holiday i.e. Christmas Day, they are entitled to be paid for the hours worked on the day. In addition to this they will also be entitled to one of the following as a benefit for each public holiday provided they have worked 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday:
5. If an employee only works on the weekend and the organisation is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day what is his/her public holiday entitlement?
As this employee is normally required to work the day in which the public holiday falls, and the premises is closed, the employee is entitled to a paid day off on the public holiday for each public holiday i.e. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. With respect to St Stephen’s Day, as the public holiday is falling on a day in which the employee does not normally work, they will be entitled to one fifth of their normal weekly pay provided they have worked 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday.
6. 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 remuneration.
7. The casual employee’s hours vary from week to week; how do I calculate their normal weekly rate of remuneration? You can calculate the average working week based on the previous 13-week period ending on the day before the public holiday.
8. If an employee commences employment on the week commencing 19 December, are they entitled to receive the benefit of the upcoming public holidays?
A full-time employee gains an entitlement to the public holiday benefit from day one of their employment and therefore they would be entitled to benefit from all three public holidays. The level of benefit they will receive will be dependent upon whether the public holiday falls on a day in which they normally work.
A part time employee must have worked 40 hours in the 5 weeks preceding the public holiday in order to be entitled to a public holiday benefit. If they have not worked this requisite number of hours, then no entitlement arises.
9. 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.