Public Holiday entitlement – Halloween’s nearly here!


We have 9 Public Holidays in Ireland and when it comes to work, we often are asked about an employee’s entitlement. Are they due to get the day off, if they are not roastered to work on the day, what happens or if they work part time, what entitlement do they have.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out clearly how Public Holidays are managed and here is a quick summary for your reference:

1. 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 5 weeks before the public holiday.

2. Employees who qualify for public holiday benefit will be entitled to one of the following:

  • 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

3. If you work Part Time and you have worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the 5 weeks before the public holiday and the public holiday falls on a day you normally work you are entitled to a day’s pay for the public holiday.

4. If you are required to work that day you are entitled to an additional day’s pay.

5. If you do not normally work on that particular day you should receive one-fifth of your weekly pay. Even if you may never be rostered to work on a public holiday you are entitled to one-fifth of your weekly pay as compensation for the public holiday.

6. If you do not have normal daily or weekly working hours, under SI 475/1997, an average of your day’s pay or the fifth of your weekly pay is calculated over the 13 weeks you worked before the public holiday.

In all of the above situations your employer may choose to give you paid time off instead of pay for the public holiday.

So now that we are coming up to another public holiday in a few weeks, here just a little bit of history to what the Halloween Holiday is all about. While in the Republic of Ireland we celebrate it as a Public Holiday on the last Monday in October. It became a bank holiday in 1977 and as it falls close to Halloween, it has become known as a Halloween holiday.

History of the Holiday

Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of the Halloween festival. The Irish tradition dates back to the eighteenth century.

Halloween takes its roots from the old Celtic festival Samhain Eve, when it was believed that the link between the worlds of living and dead was at its strongest. Some scholars believe that Samhain was the Celtic new year.

Many of the Celtic Halloween traditions live on in Ireland today and were brought to America by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century.

Traditionally an Irish Halloween dinner will include boiled potatoes, cabbage and raw onions. Cleaned coins are wrapped in baking paper and hidden in the potatoes for the children to find and keep.

The barnbrack cake is traditionally served for dessert. It is a fruitcake that has a rag, ring and coin hidden within. The rag represents a doubtful financial future, the ring represents impending romance and happiness, and the coin represents prosperity. It is believed that the individual that finds the hidden treasure will also find that respective fate.

Pumpkins and Jack O’Lantern

The legend of the Jack O’lantern also goes back to the eighteenth century.

The legend is that an Irish blacksmith called Jack was denied entry to Heaven after he has was found to have colluded with the Devil. He was condemned to wander the Earth and his only light was a burning coal inside a hollowed out turnip. The villagers believed that placing a Jack O’lantern in their window would keep the damned soul of the wandering blacksmith away.

When the Irish immigrates arrived in America and tried to carry on the tradition they found there was not enough turnips and so they resorted to using pumpkins instead.

Trick or treating

People would dress in ghost and goblin costumes to confuse the spirits that wandered the Earth on this night, so that they would not be taken by them.