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Annual Leave

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Statutory annual leave and public holiday entitlements are set out under Part III of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 which came into force on 30 September, 1997 (see Section D1). The Act implements the EU Directive on the Organisation of Working Time, 93/104/EC. In terms of holidays legislation the Act repeals the Holidays (Employees) Act, 1973 and Section 4 of the Worker Protection (Regular Part-Time Employees) Act, 1991.


Statutory instruments

S.I. 475/1997 - Organisation of Working Time (Determination of Pay for Holidays) Regulations S.I. Organisation of Working Time (Public Holiday) Regulations


The Scope


The Act covers any persons of any age, who are or were:

  • employed under a contract of employment or a contract of apprenticeship;
  • in the service of the State, including civil servants and employees of local authorities, health boards, harbour authorities and vocational education committees but excluding members of the Garda Siochana and the Defence Forces;
  • employed by an employment agency, in which case the person who is or was liable to pay the worker's wages is deemed to be the worker's employer for the purpose of the legislation. This is normally the employment agency.


Annual leave entitlement

There is no formal qualifying period of service with the employer before an employee (full- or part-time, permanent or temporary) qualifies for paid annual leave. Qualification is on the basis of:

  • all time actually worked by an employee, including overtime;
  • hours notionally worked during statutory maternity leave, additional maternity leave, extended maternity leave, adoptive leave, additional adoptive leave, health and safety leave, remaining maternity leave to which a father is entitled on the death of a mother, parental leave and force majeure leave;
  • time worked on public holidays: and
  • annual leave itself (calculated on the basis of hours which would have been worked had the employee not been on holiday on the days concerned).

Periods that do not count toward annual leave:


  • any periods when the employee is absent due to sickness, even if this is paid sick leave.
  • special periods of leave granted by the company, such as bereavement leave.

For the purposes of the legislation the leave year is considered to run from 1 April to 31 March. Different 12-month periods (i.e. January to December) are acceptable as long as the leave year is applied consistently.

From 1 April 1999, minimum statutory annual leave entitlements are calculated by one of the following methods:

(i) four working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours, unless it is a leave year in which he/she changes employment, or

(ii) one-third of a working week per calendar month in which the employee works at least 117 hours, or

(iii) 8% of the hours worked by an employee in a leave year, subject to a maximum of four working weeks (this is the method normally used for calculating part-time employee's entitlements).

Employees covered by two or more of the above calculations will be entitled to use whichever reference period results in the greater amount of annual leave. The working week is defined as the number of days that the employee concerned usually works in a week. For example, if an employee works three days a week then an entitlement to four weeks annual leave will amount in his/her case to 12 days' leave in total.

For More information on this act contact the General Secretary, Matt Carroll, on 01-6761989