What is a ‘Public Holiday’?

A Public holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year. Public holidays may commemorate a particular day or other events, for example, St Patrick’s Day (17 March) or Christmas Day (25 December). On a public holiday, sometimes called a bank holiday, most businesses and schools close. Other services, for example, public transport still operate but often with restricted schedules.

Public holidays in Ireland are:

  • New Year’s Day (1st January)
  • Patrick’s Day (17th March)
  • Easter Monday (13th April)
  • Early May Bank Holiday (4th May)
  • June Bank Holiday (1st June)
  • August Bank Holiday (3rd August)
  • Last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Stephen’s Day (26th December)

Good Friday is not a public holiday in Ireland. While some schools and businesses close on that day, employees have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day.

Employees Entitlement

An employee’s entitlement is set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. 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 five weeks before the public holiday.

If an employee qualifies for public holiday benefit, they are entitled to one of the following:

  • A paid day off on the public holiday
  • An additional day of annual leave
  • An extra day’s pay
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

If an employee does not usually work on that day, they should receive one-fifth of their weekly pay.

Public Holidays and Weekends

If the date falls on a day which is not a typical working day for that business (for example, on Saturday or Sunday) employees are still entitled to benefit for that public holiday. However, it is essential to note that where a public holiday falls on a weekend, employees do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off.

Fun Facts

Public holidays vary by country and may vary by year. With 36 days a year, Nepal is the country with the highest number of holidays, but it observes six working days a week. India ranks second with 21 national holidays, followed by Colombia and the Philippines at 18 each. Likewise, China and Hong Kong enjoy 17 public breaks a year.

Further information on public holiday entitlements in Ireland, can be found in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.