All types of employees will accrue certain statutory leave entitlements. There are various pieces of legislation which govern each type of leave and often times, the terms that apply to each scenario can be quite complex to manage. Below is a list and summary of statutory leave entitlements available to employees in Ireland.

1. Annual Leave

Legislation: Section 19 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 (the “1997 Act”)

Paid/Unpaid: Employees must be paid during their annual leave.

All employees are entitled to annual leave, this includes full-time, part-time, temporary and casual workers. Most employees are entitled to a statutory minimum of 4 weeks annual leave per leave year. Depending on time worked, under the 1997 Act, employees' holiday entitlements should be calculated by one of the following methods:-

  1. 4 working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours, i.e. a full time employee (unless it is a leave year in which s/he changes employment)
  2. 1/3 of a working week per calendar month that the employee works at least 117 hours
  3. 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks).

Employers can decide to provide employees with more annual leave if they wish under the terms of their contract.

2. Public Holidays

Legislation: Section 21 of the 1997 Act

Paid/Unpaid: Employees are entitled to one of the following benefits (which is determined by your employer based on what suits the needs of the business best):

  1. A paid day off on that day;
  2. A paid day off within a month of that day;
  3. An additional day of annual leave; or
  4. An additional day’s pay.

Full time employees have an automatic entitlement to benefit from public holidays, whilst part-time workers will only have entitlement to the benefit once they have worked 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks of that public holiday.

3. Sick Leave

Legislation: The Sick Leave Bill 2021

Paid/Unpaid: Currently, employees have no legal right to be paid while they are on sick leave. However, statutory sick pay is due to come into effect in Ireland early next year under the Sick Leave Bill 2022 on a staggered basis. From 1 January 2022, employees will be entitled to paid sick leave for up to 3 sick days. This is planned to increase to 5 days in 2023, 7 days in 2024 and 10 days in 2025.

4. Maternity leave

Legislation: The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004

Paid/Unpaid: In general, an employer is not obliged to pay employees when they are on maternity leave. However, if the employee has paid enough social contributions (PRSI), they will be entitled to receive Maternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection for the initial 26 weeks.

Employees are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave, and they also have the right to take 16 additional weeks of unpaid leave.

5. Adoptive leave

Legislation: The Adoptive Leave Act 1995

Paid/Unpaid: In general, an employer is not obliged to pay employees when they are on adoptive leave. However, if the employee has enough social contributions (PRSI), they will be entitled to receive Adoptive Benefit from the Department of Social Protection for the initial 24 weeks. 

Employees are entitled to 24 weeks adoptive leave, and they also have the right to take 16 additional weeks of unpaid leave.

6. Paternity leave

Legislation: The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016,

Paid/Unpaid: In general, an employer is not obliged to pay employees during paternity leave, but the employee may be entitled to receive Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection, provided they have paid enough social contributions (PRSI).

Employees who are new parents are entitled to 2 weeks’ leave and this can be taken any time during the first 6 months after the birth or placement in the case of adoption.

7. Parental leave

Legislation: The Parental Leave Acts 1998-2019

Paid/Unpaid: Parental leave is unpaid.

An employee is entitled to take 26 weeks’ parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday. The employee must have been working for the employer for at least a year to get the full amount of parental leave. For part time employees, their entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis. For example, if the employee works 50% of a normal working week, they are entitled to 13 weeks parental leave.

8. Parents Leave

Legislation: The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act, 2019

Paid/Unpaid: Employers are not obliged to pay employee’s during parent’s leave. However, they may be entitled to receive a weekly Parent’s Benefit of €245, provided they have paid enough social contributions (PRSI).

Each parent is entitled to take 5 weeks parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. This can be taken all at once or separately. The leave must be taken before the child’s 2nd birthday (or 2 years from the date of adoption).

9. Force Majeure Leave

Legislation: The Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2019

Paid/Unpaid: Employees are entitled to be paid while on force majeure leave.

Employees are entitled to take force majeure leave for urgent family reasons, i.e., when the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable owing to an injury or illness of a close family member. The maximum amount of leave is 3 days in any 12-month period or 5 days in a 36-month period.

10. Jury Service

Legislation: The Juries Act, 1976

Paid/Unpaid: Employers must pay employees while they are on leave serving on a jury.

The Juries Act, 1976 states that if an employee is called for jury service, they must attend. As such, employers must give them time off to attend court.

11. Carer’s Leave

Legislation: The Carer’s Leave Act, 2001

Paid/Unpaid: Employers are not obliged to pay an employee while on carer’s leave, but the employee’s position must be kept open for them upon their return to work. If the employee has paid enough social contributions (PRSI), they may be entitled to receive Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance from the Department of Social Protection.

Employees are entitled to take carer’s leave for a minimum of 13 weeks and up to a maximum of 104 weeks to provide full-time care to a person who needs it. To be eligible to take carer’s leave, the employee must have been working with their employer for 12 uninterrupted months.

Whilst other types of leave exist in Ireland (e.g. bereavement leave, study leave etc.), they are not placed on a statutory footing. Accordingly, any such leave will be a contractual right governed by an employee’s contract or the employer’s leave policies.

Leman Solicitors regularly advises employers on how to comply with legal developments and updating company policies and employment contracts. For further information on how to ensure compliance with your statutory obligations, please contact Bláthnaid Evans (bevans@leman.ie) on 01 639 3000.