Mega St. Patrick’s Weekend: March 18th Public Holiday Announced

24th January, 2022

Mega St. Patrick’s Weekend: March 18th Public Holiday Announced

24th January, 2022

Mega St. Patricks Day weekend!

In a recent Press Release, the Government of Ireland has given the green light for an extra Public Holiday on March 18th this year as a ‘once off’ public holiday, meaning there’ll be an extra-long, four-day St Patrick’s Day weekend beginning on Thursday, March 17th. Think about that for a moment: a Mega St. Patricks Day weekend!

Announcing the new public holiday, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, registered a solemn tone, saying that the day would be:

“A Day of Remembrance and Recognition, held in memory of the more than 9,000 people who have died on the island of Ireland with COVID”.

New Public Holiday

It has also been confirmed there will be a permanent extra bank holiday from 2023 onwards, with the date falling around St Brigid’s Day (which falls on February 1st). That means from next year there will be a bank holiday on the first Monday of February, starting with February 6th, 2023.

The news has been met with great delight from employees (fist pumps all round!). However, an additional public holiday may mean extra costs for employers and added resourcing considerations for payroll and HR Teams.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Mary Connaughton, Fellow CIPD, Director of CIPD Ireland, said the extra day off would be the equivalent of 0.4% of payroll and loss of revenue if businesses close for the day. She pointed out that: “…businesses that are profitable won’t have much difficulty covering this cost, but we do have to be conscious about SMEs, particularly if they are going to lose revenue.”

She went on to explain other complications with the new day:

“The introduction of an additional public holiday means all employees have an entitlement to that public holiday, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they all have to get the day off.”

“The legislation allows that, for a public holiday an employee might be off on the day, might get a day off within a month of the day, or get an additional day of annual leave or get an additional day’s pay, so they could get double pay for working that day.”

Employee Entitlements

As most HR Teams and payrollers will know, regulations as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 mean that employees are entitled to paid leave on public holidays. If employees qualify for public holiday benefits, they are entitled to one of the following depending on business needs:

  • 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

However, the rules for part-time employees are slightly different. Part-timers are entitled to a day’s pay for the public holiday if they meet both these conditions:

  • Have worked at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday
  • The public holiday falls on a day they normally work

If an employee is required to work that day, they are entitled to an additional day’s pay. If they do not usually work on that particular day, they should get one-fifth of their weekly pay – the joys of payroll!

You can find out more about public holidays on the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) website.

European Comparison

As it stands, Ireland currently has nine bank holidays a year, among the lowest number in Europe. The St. Brigid’s Day holiday will bring the number of bank and public holidays in Ireland to 10, two more than England, but in line with Northern Ireland.

All in a day’s work for Irish payroll and HR professionals, though!